Eileen McKenna Art & Design

Watercolor Art | Creative Inspiration to help you be creative on a regular basis


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Avoidance

Painting figures in watercolor
It’s ironic that the project that started with such excitement and enthusiasm, is the same project that had me avoiding my paints last week. Every time I walked by my painting table and saw the work in progress I thought, “ugh.” I was getting frustrated that I wasn’t being creative, when I realized this project was the issue.

Watercolor
It wasn’t going well and I wasn’t sure how to fix it. The sky wasn’t coming out the way I wanted and efforts to “fix” it made it worse. I’ve been playing with painting skin tones, and was struggling with adding shadows. What to do?

Practicing figures in watercolor
I made myself sit down and practice skin tones and shadows. I painted the same man from a reference photo over and over. The first versions were horrible, but I began making progress.

The next day, I put the project to the side and painted shells in my sketchbook. Something simple, no pressure, just to play. It felt good. I’m glad I recognized that this painting was holding me back. I like to push myself to practice new things, but learning new things takes time and can be frustrating. I try to finish any painting I start, but sometimes you need to take a break, and come back to it later, or not. For me the important thing is getting back to creating!

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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Announcements

Creative Exploration book - step by step six week process for introducing regular creativity into your life
I have two new projects that I’m really excited to share with you!
After blogging about creativity for over five years, I’m putting the finishing touches on a book! The book – Creative Exploration – is a step by step six week process for introducing regular creativity into your life – exploring mediums, finding inspiration, and welcoming the joy the comes from creating. It’s due out September 2019. Learn more here.

and

Creative Coaching - "Helping you uncover a clearer path to creativity."
For those of you struggling with your own creativity, I’m offering Creative Coaching! This 45 minute video call will be catered to you and your creative needs and may cover what obstacles you face, and suggestions on overcoming them, your creative goals, and how to focus and work towards them. Learn more here.


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Soaking up Inspiration

Soaking up inspiration for the next seascape painting
It’s hard to know what I enjoy more, a visit to the beach or time spent painting. Recently I did both in the same day. Obviously it was a good day.
Beach day by Eileen McKenna
Beach day by Eileen McKenna shadow in the foam
The beach visit was an early morning one with my husband and coffee. Love those.

The painting session – which took place at home later on – was with acrylics on canvas, instead of my usual watercolor. I’ve been itching to get back to acrylics. I worked on a canvas I had already started, and was able to finish it, which felt great.
Acrylic seascape painting by Eileen McKenna

I’m looking forward to another day like this one!

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

Sign up for the newsletter here.


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Creative Excitement

Creative excitement the start of a new watercolor painting | watercolor for beginners
This is the best feeling. It’s creative excitement. I’ve spent a little bit of time organizing my supplies, and now I’m sitting in front of a new creative project – a watercolor painting. I’ve done some prep work – I have my reference photo picked out, I’ve taped down my watercolor paper, I’ve measured and taped the horizon line, and I have a plan – I’m going to start with the figures.

There is so much hope and excitement at the beginning of a project. Sometimes a little nervousness too. I’m working larger than I normally do, and adding figures is fairly new too. I think it’s good to push ourselves, to expand our capabilities.

Later will come some struggle. It’s expected and if it was easy, it would be boring. I used to give up when a project got hard, but I’ve learned to push through – it’s extremely satisfying. I may not overcome the struggles perfectly but there’s always a lesson learned for next time.

New to watercolor? I have a pdf Quick Start Guide that will help get you started. Sign up for my newsletter and get the “What you need to know to get started with watercolor” pdf for FREE! Sign up here.
Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction

These fun and easy pdf tutorials, where you learn watercolor and create a beautiful painting at the same time are available for download in my Etsy shop.
Easy Starfish Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn Watercolor Techniques  Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn watercolor techniques! #winter #forest #watercolor #beginners How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | tutorial | step by step instructions | painting tips

 


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Adding Watercolor Figures

Watercolor sketch boy filling bucket by the oceanOcean lifeguards going for a dip Watercolor SketchGrandpa and little girl holding hands by the ocean watercolor painting
It’s World Watercolor Month and I’ve been working outside of my comfort zone by adding people to my watercolor sketches. I’ve been experimenting with first sketching in pencil, and also with going straight to paint – painting the shape of the body and then adding the clothes. It’s great practice for me, trying to capture the figures, and working on the highlights and shadows on different skin tones.
Watercolor sketch figures by the shore by Eileen McKennaWatercolor sketch figures walking along the shore by Eileen McKennaWatercolor sketch figure walking along the shore by Eileen McKenna

New to watercolor? I have a pdf Quick Start Guide that will help get you started. Sign up for my newsletter and get the ““What you need to know to get started with watercolor” pdf for FREE! Sign up here.
Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction

These fun and easy pdf tutorials, where you learn watercolor and create a beautiful painting at the same time are available for download in my Etsy shop.
Easy Starfish Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn Watercolor Techniques  Easy Forest Watercolor Painting for Beginners | Learn watercolor techniques! #winter #forest #watercolor #beginners How to paint the ocean in watercolor and gouache | tutorial | step by step instructions | painting tips

 


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Overcoming Creative Hurdles

Overcoming Creative Hurdles

Many things prevent us from being creative. Here are a few, with suggestions for overcoming them.

Time. We all lead busy lives, but if creativity is a priority you can find time for it. Wake up a few minutes early, watch less TV, or do it while you watch TV. Give up time spent on other things, or incorporate creativity WITH those things. I sometimes sketch while having my morning coffee and waiting to drive the kids to school.

Skill Level. There’s nothing worse than being in the middle of a project and feeling like you lack the skills to finish. I recommend pausing your project and using the available online resources. A quick YouTube video, followed by a practice session, can get you back on track.

Confidence. You may think it’s not worth it to spend your time on creativity because only the “talented” should spend time being creative. Should only yogis bother doing yoga, or olympic runners spend time running? There are benefits to creativity at every level!

Motivation. Wanting to be creative and actually doing it are not the same thing. Find ways to motivate yourself. Work on things that excite you. Participate in challenges. Create schedules and deadlines. Break down bigger projects into small tasks and assign a due date to each task.

Procrastination. I can spend hours planning in my notebook the creative projects I’m going to do, or next steps with current projects. The longer I procrastinate, the harder it is to break out of it and actually create. I take advantage of breaks in my day to change gears and stop procrastinating.

Distraction. There is so much distracting us. Set a daily reminder on your phone. “Were you creative today?” My reminder goes off at noon and reads, “Did you draw today?” It reminds me of what I want to do.

Focus. Have too many ideas and can’t focus on one? Try my Creative Ideas Worksheet. It will help you prioritize, focus, and finally make progress with your creative projects!

What hurdles get in the way of your creativity? I’d love to hear!

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
  • US Flag with fireworks clipart

Sign up for the newsletter here.


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Practice Creativity vs. “Creative Practice”

Practicing creativity not creative practice
“Creative Practice” is one of those terms I find intimidating, similar to calling oneself an artist. Technically I guess I have a creative practice. I sit down probably five days a week and draw and paint. Calling it “practicing creativity” is less intimidating. I’m simply sitting down, experimenting, and exploring. Anyone can do it!

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
  • US Flag with fireworks clipart

Sign up for the newsletter here.


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I’m behind but it’s okay #the100dayproject

work in progress Jones Beach State park map
I’m on day 67 of #the100dayproject, while most people are on day 75. Thankfully every email they send says, “Wherever you are is a great place to be. Truly. You’re on your own path and your own timeline.” This is great, because otherwise being “behind” might cause me to give up. I’m more than halfway there, I can’t give up!

Even if the 100 days doesn’t end the way I wanted or expected, the process and the self discovery is definitely worth it. I’ve always enjoyed working within a theme and working on illustrations for beach locations is right up my alley. But, what isn’t up my alley, is painting buildings – all those straight lines! The other aspect of my map making project that I struggle with is the computer time. I love painting in my sketchbook, but once I’m on the computer, placing the illustrations on my map background, then it feels like work.

I thought I’d have more completed maps by now. Instead, I have too many illustrations that I have a hard time fitting on a map. 😂

I have a lot of respect for those that create custom illustrated maps as their business. For now I’m still too intimidated to add custom maps to my Etsy shop. Truth be told, I’m probably more intimidated by the “commission” idea than the illustrated map idea. Maybe the next 33 days (or more) will boost my confidence.

Click here to visit my Etsy shop where I sell digital prints, clipart, invitations, painting tutorials, and even personalized family trees!
Illustrated Fire Island map | Day 25 #the100dayproject
Beginner Watercolor Painting Instructional PDF "What you need to know to get started with Watercolor" Beginner Printable Introduction creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration
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Finishing your creative projects is important

Finishing creative projects
It’s such a good feeling to finish a creative project and motivation for the next one! I used to be awful about following through on my creative ideas. I would start a project excited about my idea and as soon as things got hard or weren’t easily working out like I envisioned I’d give up.
The finished painting:
Jones Beach jetty painting by Eileen McKenna
Where I started from today:
Jones Beach jetty painting in progress by Eileen McKenna
When I started my blog – My Creative Resolution, the first thing I did was pull out unfinished projects and finished them. I didn’t plan it that way I just did it. In doing this I learned so much about pushing through the hard parts of a project and I learned how rewarding and motivating it is to finish. I learned what turned out to be a crucial skill in the beginning of my creative journey. I also learned that done is better than perfect and never finished. And any “mistakes” I make are just lessons for the next project. If you read this far I hope I inspired you to pull out a neglected project and give it another try! Tag me on Instagram @eileenmckenna if you do. 😀
Have so many ideas you don’t know where to start? Gain focus with 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
creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration
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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Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.

Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.
As creatives we usually have no shortage of ideas. This is definitely true for me. I never have artist’s block. What I experience is feeling overwhelmed by ideas and not being able to pick a focus and direction.

Gain focus with 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

Before my blog and my creative resolution, I had many unfinished projects lying around. Having the commitment of this blog helped me learn to finish projects. In doing this, I also learned how motivating a sense of accomplishment is! It didn’t really matter what the final result was. What mattered was that I had an idea and executed it to completion. Armed with the learning experience of that finished project, I could decide on the next one.

Now that I’m a bit obsessed with accomplishing things, feeling overwhelmed by a huge list of ideas is very unsettling. This is what I typically do to work through too many ideas.

1. Write down every idea. On one or two pages, write down each idea on a line, one after another. Just getting them out of my head is a bit of a relief.

2. Pause for a moment, drink a coffee, and then read through the list.

3. Prioritize the items on the list. A book I loved – Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – recommends labeling items as A, B, and C. A is the highest priority.

4. Number the A’s. Once the items are assigned A B or C, number the projects labeled A (priority). On a new page write the highest ranked A items, leaving several lines underneath each project. Write a few tasks necessary for this project under the project. This doesn’t have to include every task to complete the project, just the next few steps.

5. Write a To Do list. Because I typically have a few projects going on at once, I take the top tasks under the priority items and create a To Do list.

6. Pick one To Do list item and act on it and complete it.

7. Celebrate the completion of a task by checking it off the list.

8. Move on to the next item on the To Do list. Complete all the items on the list.

9. Create a new To Do list. Once the original to do list is completed, go back to the task lists under the priority projects and use some of the remaining tasks to create another To Do list.

10. Repeat creating To Do lists (and accomplishing the items on them) until the priority projects are completed.

11. Go back to the idea list, once the priority projects are completed. Read through and see if the A B C ratings you gave the remaining projects still apply. Adjust as needed and then go back and repeat steps 4 – 11. Some projects on your idea list will cease to interest you. Cross them off when that happens.

This process gives my mind clarity and then I can focus. I designed a Creative Ideas Worksheet that’s pretty and easy to use! Download it in my Etsy shop here.
Creative Ideas Planning Worksheet pdf for when you have too many creative project ideas

Learn more about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

Creative Exploration book -

creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration

Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.

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!