Creativity is for Everyone!


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Make this the year your reach your goals and keep your resolutions!

Creative New Year - reach your goals keep your resolution
I hope you had a wonderful holiday with family and friends! I’m excited for 2020 – for a year filled with creativity! The fresh start of the new year always leaves me energized. For several years, armed with a new sketchbook I swore this would be the year that creativity would become a regular part of my life. But year after year, after a few weeks the sketchbook and my creative intentions would be forgotten. Until, at the start of 2014 I made My Creative Resolution – the resolution and the blog. I have kept My Creative Resolution for six years! It has changed me so much. I learned that the joy of creating has more to do with the feeling you get during the process than the final results. And that with time and practice you can improve in anything.

So what are your hopes for 2020? I’ve gathered a few resources to assist you with planning goals, organizing creative ideas, staying focused and keeping resolutions:

Here’s to reaching your goals in 2020!
Happy New Year!

What are your creative plans for 2020? Hoping for a creative year but don’t know where to start? Try my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life – Develop a regular practice of creating, explore mediums and subjects in search of your thing, and experience the joy that creativity brings. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -


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Creative Plans for 2020 – It’s My 6 Year Blog Anniversary!

Creative Plans for 2020 - It's My 6 Year Blog Anniversary!
I am definitely someone who has to keep their creative ideas reined in. I learned during the second year of My Creative Resolution, that trying new things is fun, but learning and progress with new mediums takes time and dedication. If you scatter your time and energy across many different things, you don’t significantly progress in any one area. Growth takes focus.

At the time I tried block printing and thought, “This is cool. This is harder than I thought.” and “It would take time to get better at this.” After a year of trying things in 2015, I decided to focus on watercolor.

As I think about next year. The first thing that happens is I get excited about the idea of “shiny new things.” Then I pause and remember the lesson I learned and really think, “What do I want to focus on in 2020?”

There are two sides to my creative life – me as a creative pursuing what interests me and me growing a creative business. It’s important for me to make the distinction otherwise my list for 2020 will be all business ideas.

Creative business ideas:

Creative ideas:

  • Daily morning work is an important part of my art practice. Keeps me calm and creative. I enjoy it! I paint whatever strikes me that morning. It’s a no pressure time.
  • Seascapes – I am still drawn to the ocean. I never tire of visiting, photographing, and painting the ocean.

My creative ideas seem almost boring because I’m just continuing with more of the same, but as much as a new idea would be “shiny and new” I can’t think of one that would top my interest in the above.

When I write the words that describe me and what I’m interested in it’s, “inspire creativity, teach, paint in watercolor, and the beach.” This just confirms I have the right goals in mind for 2020. I’m sticking to the path I’ve been on.

What are your creative plans for 2020? Hoping for a creative year but don’t know where to start? Try my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life – Develop a regular practice of creating, explore mediums and subjects in search of your thing, and experience the joy that creativity brings. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -


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Take control of where you are headed in the new year and reach your goals!

Take control of where you are headed in the new year and reach your goals!
Sometimes we coast through our days, time passes, and we find ourselves no closer to reaching our goals. This year be intentional, set a goal for the year, and focus on that one thing. Set yourself up for success by creating a plan.

Write it down! What is your goal for the year? Be specific!

What steps are necessary to achieve this goal? If needed, do research to help you answer this question.

Schedule time to work towards your goal. Even a small amount of time adds up. When will you work towards your goal?

Invest in your goal – buy running gear, art supplies, a camera, or whatever thing supports your goal. Making an investment will motivate you to stick with your plan. What item will spark excitement and help you reach your goal?

Check in with yourself regularly about your progress and what you are learning. I write daily in my notebook about my creative projects. This helps keep me focused and on track. When will you touch base with yourself on your progress?

Hold yourself accountable. Ideas include asking a friend to be your accountability partner, and posting about your goal and progress online. How will you hold yourself accountable?

Celebrate milestones. A goal can be a huge daunting thing. Breaking into down into manageable tasks makes it more approachable. Celebrating milestones in your journey to continue to propel yourself forward towards the bigger goal. “Celebrating” can be an actual activity, a purchase, or simply the act of recognizing the completion of a task. What milestones could you celebrate? How will you celebrate?

Challenge yourself. Over time the same thing can get boring. When you start feeling bored, challenge yourself with new things within your goal – a new type of exercise, a race, a class, a daily or weekly commitment like a drawing a day or making a new recipe each week. Keep things interesting!

Expect ups and downs but commit to sticking with your goal. It’s normal to be initially excited and motivated about your goal. But over time, the daily work towards a goal can be less exciting. Expect that you will lose enthusiasm at times. During these period keep the bigger goal in mind. Imagine how good it will feel to arrive at that place! Keep going, don’t give up! Forgive yourself when you have an “off” week and recommitment for the next week. Make a commitment to yourself!

I‘ve created a Goal Worksheet to help you create a successful plan! Download it in my Etsy shop here.

Need help gaining focus with your ideas? Try my Creative Ideas planning worksheet – Download it in my Etsy shop here.
Creative Ideas Planning Worksheet pdf for when you have too many creative project ideas

Want to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


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My Creative Year(s) in Review

Creative year in review | creative new year resolution
At the end of each year I try to reflect on my intentions for the year versus the reality. This exercise is important for me especially because I’m the type to reach a goal and then turn around and create new ones, without really recognizing my accomplishment. As I finish the sixth year of My Creative Resolution (the blog and the commitment to regular creativity), I decided to look back on my entire creative journey, by determining the words that defined each year:

  • 2014 – Finishing/following through, developing a creative practice
  • 2015 – Trying different things – watercolor was a constant
  • 2016 – Challenging myself and sticking with my creative journey through ups and downs
  • 2017 – Focusing to learn and improve my skills. Painting seascapes became a focus and remains one. I created my first “how to” post.
  • 2018 – Paint, teach, connect were my intentions for the year and they matched reality. I had my first in person teaching opportunity!
  • 2019 – Embrace uncomfortable opportunities and goals

I’m proud to say that I’ve become someone who embraces scary and uncomfortable opportunities and goals, which has led to experiencing amazing things. I now regularly teach a kid’s after school drawing and painting class. I initially terrified, but now I love it.

Writing a book that turned my creative journey into a process for others to follow to introduce creativity into their own lives, was intimidating. Having the idea was easy, but following through and finalizing it was hard! That’s why I’m so proud that this year I self published Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.

Since writing my first “how to” step by step painting post, I’ve aspired to create video lessons. There were so many obstacles – I don’t want to be on camera, how to create it, I don’t want to record my voice, etc. It took a few years to figure out the format and the how to, and to get comfortable with putting myself (and my voice) out there. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is finalize a project like this. Now I have the Birch Forest Watercolor Online Video Painting Lesson template to follow for the next video lesson. Next up is “Painting a Seascape.”

The interesting thing about my creative journey is how much I’ve changed. From starting out as someone who aspired to be creative but didn’t know the how or the what, to six years later wanting to inspire creativity in others. Want to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


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It all comes down to you

Achieving goals

We went to an indoor rock climbing place for my son’s birthday. I knew he wanted us all to climb and I was fine with that. I’d done it years ago, so I thought it would be no problem. I was all harnessed up, at the bottom of the first wall, when I realized this was going to require effort! If I wanted to get up there, I was going to have to pull myself up. You’re probably saying, “well of course.” I don’t know what I was thinking! For some reason I thought it was going to be easy.

I started climbing and even though I refused to look, I sensed that I was getting further and further from my family, and higher and higher. I’m definitely more anxious than I was years ago, when I last tried it. I becoming afraid of going too high and didn’t make it to the top of that wall, or the next one. I did make it to the top of the wall in this photo!

I couldn’t help but see the analogy between climbing and achieving goals. We might start out thinking that painting, or writing a book, or whatever, won’t be that hard, but when you really get into it, you realize it is. Even if the process (of painting or writing or whatever) is easy for you, the commitment and dedication to finish a project is hard. And when you put yourself out on a limb and go for a goal, even with your family supporting you, it can still be scary.

One of the main things that helps me achieve goals is focus. I try to think carefully about what I want to spend my time on, what goals are important to me. If I pick a project on a whim, I can lose interest or confidence in the project, and I end up jumping from idea to idea without accomplishing anything. But with a carefully selected goal in mind, I have an easier time staying on task. I may falter for a time but the importance of the project will bring me back around.

What helps you achieve your goals?

I share creative tips and inspiration in my weekly newsletter. Sign up now and get the following freebies:

  • Watercolor Quick Start Guide – everything you need to know to get started in watercolor
  • 50 ideas on what to draw or paint

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Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction


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Creative Freedom

Seascape paintings by Eileen McKenna my top 9 2018 #topnine
Over 10 years ago I took a drawing class that reintroduced art to my life. The class was a mix of new people and regulars who took the class every semester. Soon I became a “regular” too. Us regulars worked somewhat independently, but also loosely followed the class assignments. It was a great experience.

After a few years I began to want more. I didn’t want to limit myself to only creating when class was in session, or within class assignments, and I wanted to discover, “what would I create if I was 100% free to pursue anything?” This was the point where I started this blog. I was really excited about the possibilities. I thought a career in hand painting furniture was on the horizon – it wasn’t. I only refinished one table. But I was free to paint that table, paint signs, finished old canvas paintings, and rediscover my love for watercolor. A year later I tried block printing, surface design, etc. Some things stuck and some didn’t.

On the eve of 2019, I’m feeling this excitement. I have the freedom to pursue anything. My interests have definitely gotten more focused, but at the same time the possibilities are endless. I can’t wait!

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.


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Looking forward to a Creative 2019

Family tree watercolor painting
Since making my creative resolution on the eve of 2014 – I’ve been blogging and creating art on a regular basis for five years! I love being creative and miss it when I let life get in the way. I’m always happy when I make room for it again.

It’s exciting to look forward to 2019 and make plans and think about my goals. I know that a goal, project, or deadline really motivates me. I also know working within a theme is really interesting and produces some pleasantly surprising results. This year within the Christmas theme but without a list of prompts, I explored different things like my childhood Christmas memories.

My Creative Plans for 2019

  • Paint within a theme. 15-30 day challenges. Explore a theme for two weeks or more. Give myself time off in between.
  • Grow my Etsy shop. At the end of the year I began offering my illustrations as digital downloads on Etsy. Before I developed illustration skills, I was a graphic designer looking for art to incorporate into my designs. It’s fun now to be on the other side of things, offering clipart, invitation backgrounds, etc. to help others with their DIY design projects. It’s also fun to think about each holiday or occasion and figure out what digital products people may need, and then to see what the response is to that new product. I recently painted a customizable family tree which I’m very excited about!
  • Learn and explore. I want to continue painting acrylics, would like to try block printing again, and have signed up for a sewing class!

Personalized Family Tree watercolor painting personalized

I’ve been thinking of the book, “The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion” by Elle Luna, and trying to avoid creating a list of things that I feel I should do and instead create a list of things I feel passionate about doing.

Read my post “My Creative Year in Review 2018”

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


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My Creative Year in Review 2018

My Creative Year in Review
Before I get carried away with ideas for 2019, it’s important and helpful for me to look back on 2018, to see what I accomplished, what worked, and what didn’t. The guiding words I selected for 2018 were: paint, teach, share, and connect.

Paint
Creating is the point of everything. It’s what brings me happiness, it’s why I started the blog in the first place. Above all, even when I’m creating products or loading things in my shop, I always want to remember to make time for painting and I did this in 2018.

As is the norm for me, I have times when I’m very prolific and other times when I let life get in the way. I’ve learned that a project, goal, or deadline, really motivates me. In May I bought a stack of small canvases and declared I’d focus on painting seascapes in acrylics instead of my normal watercolor. Painting with acrylics reminded me what it felt like to be a beginner. I was also reminded that practice leads to progress. Currently I’m committed to painting watercolor illustrations every day of the holiday season – a huge motivator for me.

Teach
I did post a few tutorial blog posts this year – on painting seascapes and on creativity in general, but what was really exciting was I was asked to teach watercolor to kids for a week of summer camp. It was fun, terrifying, enlightening, and exhausting! I really loved the kids. We’ll see what in person opportunities come my way in 2019.

This year I began filming mini videos of my process which is fun and I enjoy sharing. I keep saying I need to create longer step by step videos. We’ll see what the new year brings.

Share
This year I offered my artwork in many new ways including selling originals online, selling at my first in person vendor event, and offering my illustrations as digital downloads on Etsy. I’m really excited, particularly about my Etsy shop. Before I developed illustration skills, I was a graphic designer looking for art to incorporate into my designs. It’s fun to be on the other side of things, offering clipart, invitation backgrounds, etc. to help others with their design projects. It’s also fun to think about each holiday or event and figure out what digital products will help people, and then to see what the response is to that new product.

Connect
I’m really enthusiastic about my newsletter. I share all the things inspiring me. I have the opportunity to connect with other artists who I feature, and I love hearing from readers who enjoy what I share. Sign up here!

Other fun things this year:

When I look back it’s been a great, full year of new projects, opportunities, and connections. I’m excited for 2019!


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Kick up your Creativity with Color!

Kick up your Creativity with Color! Steps to Creativity for everyone
Want to be creative but don’t know how/where to start? If you haven’t already, click here and start with these 3 steps! If you have started with the beginning 3 steps, then you’ve accomplished a lot!

  • Your eyes are open to inspiration. You take photos and make lists of things to sketch.
  • You’ve been sketching regularly in pencil. Hopefully noticing the difference between the softer B and the harder H pencils. You have a regular creative practice!
  • You don’t just draw something once – you practice drawing it several times. Take a moment to look through your sketches and see overall how much you’ve progressed!

Well done. When you are ready, move on to these steps – that are all about Color!

1. Colored Pencil or Watercolor? – The next logical step may seem to be colored pencils, but if you are itching to paint, and want something more fluid, I recommend watercolor. Here is where YOU decide what path your creative journey takes. This is about finding what YOU like. If you need recommendations on either see below.

2. Start simply with your sketchbook. Continue with your creative habit of sketching regularly – but now use color! You can use regular pencil first and then add color – or start directly with color. I recommend working in your sketchbook because it’s a no pressure, play zone, where you can practice and learn. Note: if you decide to use watercolor – please look at my sketchbook recommendation below, so your pages don’t buckle.

3. Beyond the sketch. After practicing in your sketchbook, it’s time for a drawing or painting that you spend more time on. After all your loose, quick sketches, you are ready. It can be a page in your sketchbook, or perhaps use a nicer paper – see recommendations below based on your choice of medium. Before you start, plan it out. Pick a reference photo, study it, and lightly plan it out in pencil.

When you are working on a drawing or painting for a longer period of time, stepping away and coming back to it with fresh eyes, helps a lot. I sometimes work with my reference photo and paper upside down – to check that things look right. Don’t expect immediate results. Don’t give up because it isn’t looking like you envision. I used to be a “quitter,” but I learned that it takes time, and the results often surprise me if I stick with it, and work through “mistakes.” In the end, any “weak” areas – are just things to work on for the next time. It’s a learning process. Good Luck!

My recommendations:

Colored PencilsPrismacolor Colored Pencils
Strathmore Bristol Vellum Pad – Smooth thicker, bright white paper – great for a colored pencil project.

Watercolor Tube Sets – I love Windsor & Newton paints and started with their affordable Cotman “student grade”
Canson Multimedia Sketchbook – I love this versatile, bright white, thicker sketchbook paper
Fluid Watercolor Paper – great for a watercolor painting. Tape down the sides to a larger piece of cardboard with painter’s tape to prevent buckling!

Colored Pastels are another option. I never really got the hang of them, but my daughter loves them. She uses the Prismacolor sticks.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.

This post contains affiliate links to products/brands I use and recommend. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog!


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Creative Plans for 2018

Words for 2018 #creative #goals
I’m an ambitious list maker. And if I achieve things on my list, I add more things. When I started writing down what I wanted to accomplish in 2018, the list was getting out of control. I don’t want to set myself up for failure – with a list too long to possibly achieve. I thought about Crystal Moody of A Year of Creative Habits. Crystal picks one word to be the focus of the year.

Okay so maybe I can’t pick just one word, but I like how simplifying things to a few words can guide your year, while still allowing for things to evolve.

For 2018 I’ve selected the words Paint, Teach, Share, and Connect.

Paint. It sounds so simple, but I like to remind myself that creating is the reason for blogging, posting, pinning, etc. Painting is the core of it all. I’m continuing the theme from last year of Painting the Ocean in watercolor.

Teach. I really enjoy writing about creativity and specifically enjoy writing posts that share details on painting. I’d like to continue with these types of posts, as well as start creating videos. It’s so easy to learn by seeing someone do something. I’m also toying around with the idea of doing an in person workshop. 😬

Share. This past year I made my work available in a few ways. I started selling prints of my ocean watercolors online at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Through Zazzle, my artwork is available on cards, mugs, and ornaments. I’ve added to my designs that are available as fabric, gift wrap, and wallpaper through Spoonflower. As much as I enjoy creating, artwork stacks up in a drawer. It’s exciting to put it out into the world and fulfilling when others enjoy it.

Connect. This year I connected with Mary of the Daily Sew. Mary created an awesome drawstring bag, and a free downloadable pattern, using my Swimming Laps fabric. I also connected in person with Erin Andrews, the Interior Designer behind Indigo House Interiors. Read her post “A Coastal Inspired Holiday.” I’m very excited to have someone local that I can meet for coffee and talk about creative projects, business, and blogging! I hope to continue connecting with other creatives in the new year.

These words for 2018 – Paint, Teach, Share, Connect – offer goals, but also flexibility. Here’s to a creative new year!

Read my 2017 year in review here.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!