Eileen McKenna Art & Design

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


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Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor!

lets paint Paris in Watercolor an email series | Learn Watercolor
Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor!

Join me in February for The “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” Email Series – an inspirational program for February 2020 (4 weeks) aimed at inspiring regular watercolor painting through virtual immersion into the city of Paris – the food, the architecture (no straight lines required), the Masters and more! At the start of each week, you’ll receive an email outlining the theme for the week. Week 1 is food. Think colorful macarons! The email will include daily optional prompts with stories about each prompt, links to reference photos and videos AND a link to an instructional video. Learn/practice watercolor as you go!

Together We Will

Paint Daily – just 10 minutes a day is enough! Themes and prompts provided, as well as the stories behind them.
Learn/Practice Watercolor – I’ll share my tips and tricks on my favorite medium. Video of my process included each week!
Immerse ourselves into Paris – a virtual trip – the food, the architecture (no straight lines required), the Masters, and more!

Sign Up Now

to get the early bird rate of just $12.99*
for the February 2020 email series.

Learn More Here

Early bird rate expires 1/17/2020. Regular price $24.99.

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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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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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It’s hard to commit to a daily painting challenge

Daily Painting Challenge | Regular Creativity Creative Practice
It’s hard to commit to a daily painting challenge but every time I do, and stick with it, I’m always happy with the results. The first few times I did my Christmas countdown (daily watercolor illustrations counting down to Christmas) I followed prompts. Last year and this year, I’ve allowed myself the freedom to paint whatever fits into the Christmas/winter/holiday theme. I love the flexibility to explore.

The first few days of a daily challenge can feel a little awkward, or stiff. But after that you open up to the inspiration around you. Flipping through a skiing catalog I saw a Telluride ad that I thought would be so cool to paint. It was totally outside of the normal thing I would do. I enjoyed the process and was pleased with the results. The thing I get most excited about are the ideas. Last year I painted a girl with a record player in front of a tinsel covered tree – me as a kid, playing a favorite gift.

Daily painting or drawing is hard, especially during the busy holiday season. But the break from the busyness and the interesting creative process of coming up with new ideas is so worth it!

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 -


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Gifts to Inspire Creativity

Christmas gifts to inspire creativity | unique holiday gifts for everyone creative artist
If you have creativity in your life – regular creativity – you already know what a gift it is. It’s a relaxing time, almost like meditation, and it can ease the anxiety associated with busy lives. What better gift this holiday season, than the gift of creativity? Here are a variety of gifts that will inspire creativity in your friends and family.

The items show below are all available on Amazon, just click the image to view the Amazon listing details. Read my disclaimer is below.

Art Set – Create a gift set with my “Creative Exploration Book,” favorite sketchpad, sketching pencils, kneaded eraser, and colored pencils. The recipient will be all ready to explore their creativity!

Painting Set – Watercolor is my favorite medium. I started with this Van Gogh watercolor tube set. Combine paints, brushes, a palette, and paper for a great gift!

Screen Printing Kit – I’ve wanted to try screen printing forever. I should add this to my list!


Block Printing Kit – Block printing is so fun and satisfying. This Speedball kit even includes ink!


Baking Set – Combine a baking book with pans or accessories. I love to bake and Williams-Sonoma products are some of my favorites!

Cooking Set – We just made a Gordon Ramsey recipe and it was the best Shrimp Scampi we ever had! And it didn’t take forever to prepare. Combine a recipe book with Gordon Ramsay knives or other cooking accessories for the perfect gift.

Gardening – How about a kit to grow a succulent garden?


Crochet – Combine a “How to Crochet” book with needles and yarn for a unique gift.

Embroidery – An embroidery kit is a great way to introduce someone to embroidery. Everything they need is included! Except maybe scissors.

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission whenever you buy using these links, at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting my blog! Please note: I have NOT used all the items in this post. Please refer to Amazon listings and reviews for specific product details. 


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How to Find your Creative Confidence – Studio 78 podcast episode

I’ve had the great pleasure of being interviewed by Nache’ Snow on the Studio 78 podcast!

How to find your Creative Confidence episode 98 of the Studio 78 podcast
Visit Studio 78 Episode 98. HOW TO FIND YOUR CREATIVE CONFIDENCE to find out where to listen.

Nache’ is a designer and maker and I’ve listened to her podcast – which highlights creative women and their side hustles – for years! Talking with her was so much fun! In Nache’s words,

“Eileen never gave up on her dream of being creative. In this episode, she explains how creating an art blog helped her gained the confidence to get back into painting and inspire others. She also walks us through how and why she built-out courses after a tutorial went viral on Pinterest, her process for developing a creativity book, and why she continues to create simple tutorials for those getting started.”

I hope you’ll listen! Studio 78 Episode 98. HOW TO FIND YOUR CREATIVE CONFIDENCE

Photo by Dawn Herlihy Reilly.

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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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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Turning 50 and Setting Goals

Thanksgiving table activity I'm thankful for | kids adults
“I’m thankful for…” cards are available in my Etsy shop.

A few years ago my friend was turning 50 and she made a list of life improvements and goals she wanted to reach/accomplish during her 50th year. It was a great list – a positive list – incorporate daily exercise, take a trip without the kids to visit a friend, and other things focused on herself. What has really impressed me is that years later she maintains many of the positive changes.

So now that I’m about to turn 50 – I should have a list, shouldn’t I? Of course I have a list of projects I’m working on and a list of other “future” ideas – I make lists every day, but nothing stands out as a life goal, or a “midlife” goal.

  • I suppose writing a book would have been on my list if I hadn’t, back in September, self published my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life. A guide to introducing creativity into your life.
  • Being a guest on a podcast would also have been on my list, mostly because I listen to so many of them, but I had the great pleasure recently of being interviewed by Nache Snow of the Studio 78 podcast. A podcast about creative women entrepreneurs and how they started their side hustle or business endeavor. FYI the episode will air December 1st.
  • I do want one day to attend Craftcation, the business and makers conference is California, but I’m a few years away from that. Trips in the near future will be college tours and family trips.

So what are my life goals? What are my plans for 50? What have I always wanted to achieve? Possibly I’m stumped for answers because: I’m blessed with a loving (and funny) husband, three smart, healthy kids, a comfortable home (not too far from the beach), a patchwork creative career that is bringing me a lot of fulfillment, and my regular creative practice of painting, drawing, and writing about creativity – which brings me so much joy. Maybe I’m good. Maybe I’m ready for 50 already.

Pilgrim coloring page fun Thanksgiving activity for kids
Pilgrim coloring page is available in my Etsy shop.

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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I’m turning 50 and the kids are growing up

I paint the ocean in watercolor. Eileen McKenna

In 2020 I turn 50. It doesn’t bother me that much because I feel young, but it is strange. The biggest sign that I’m getting older is that we have one child away at college, another applying to colleges, and our “baby” started high school.

As I enter this new phase I was happy to find MidlifeRambler.com and connect with Katy the founder. Katy says,

“I started Midlife Rambler because I like reading so many of the great lifestyle blogs out there written by all the creative 30-somethings of the world but I wished I had something to read that was a little more focused on the interests and needs of women my age. 

Women my age often seem to be under-represented and it can be difficult to find places on the Internet that speak to us and value us. Women at midlife are entering a new phase of our lives: a phase where we (mostly) stop focusing on raising our children and starting planning our next act. What will that look like? What do we even want anyway?”

Personally, the things helping me with these transitions are having work that I’ve been able to expand on, and having a hobby that I love. I have had the pleasure of contributing an article on “Finding a Hobby you’ll love” to Midlife Rambler. Visit https://www.midliferambler.com/how-to-find-a-hobby-youll-love/ to read it.

Have advice on navigating the kids leaving the nest? I’d love to hear.

Photo by Dawn Herlihy Reilly.

Would you like 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.

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!