A Creative New Year

Sketchbook

I’m always relieved when the busyness of the holidays is over. After Thanksgiving “the holidays” – a small thing on my to do list – grows with each passing day until it’s the main thing I’m working on. I become consumed with shopping, taking inventory of deliveries, decorating, wrapping, planning, baking, more shopping…

And then it’s over. The week that follows is usually a fairly quiet week of not much more that reading, tv watching, and eating leftover candy. I happily devour the creative magazines that filled my stocking. Magazines like flow and Mollie Makes. I read about other creatives and plan and dream about the New Year.

It was during this time, seven years ago, that I committed to regular creativity and started this blog – My Creative Resolution. Seven years ago! My kids don’t remember a time when a section of the table wasn’t filled with art supplies. They assume I’ve always drawn and painted. 

Starting a blog added a level of accountability that prevented me from putting my creative goals aside. Before the blog, there were several Christmases where I received a new sketchbook, vowed to work in it every day, but ultimately forgot about it. Creativity has brought so much joy to my life, and many unexpected opportunities! It is impossible to plan everything. You have to start your own journey to find out what twists and turns await you!

Not sure where to start?

I’ve created a process for you to follow, that walks you through trying things, while developing a regular practice of creativity. Fifteen minutes a day can be sufficient!

We start with the basics – no fancy supplies needed – and slowly work up to trying other mediums. Your interests are taken into account. After all, your exploratory journey should be based on you!

Ready to get started?
Download the “Creative Exploration” ebook or order a paperback copy on Amazon today. Click here for more information.

Your creative journey awaits!

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice

Start now by clicking here!

 

Creativity in Midlife

I’m on a podcast! “Women in the Middle” with Suzy Rosenstein, Episode #179 “Finding My Passion to Teach Creativity in Midlife with Eileen McKenna”

Our conversation covers:

  • Why it’s important to pay attention to your deepest desires.
  • How to look for clues about what you’ve always been passionate about.
  • Why exploration itself needs to become a skill you can get better at.
  • How paying attention to your inner voice can help you get unstuck and find your own voice in midlife.
  • How being uncomfortable can be a normal part of the process of your own personal development.

Watercolor Zoom Lessons coming in 2021!

I have exciting plans for 2021 and I want you to be a part of them! Last New Year’s we had the privilege of visiting Paris. It was amazing. After the trip I revisited my photos and memories by painting them. Instead of doing it alone, I developed the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program so participants could virtually “visit” Paris and improve upon their watercolor skills. This year – I’m so excited – I’m expanding on the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program by also offering online zoom lessons.* We can meet and paint together! It is going to be so fun. Zoom lessons will start mid January. Please note – the zoom lessons will be an additional fee.  

You can start the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program at any time. If you are interested in the upcoming small group zoom lessons please email me and let me know. There is no commitment at this point – I just want to make sure you receive all the details!

*The zoom lessons will be an additional cost to the current “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program. The zoom lessons are not included in the cost of the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program.

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Ready to get started in watercolor? The “Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide” is for you!

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises & projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

Learn more here!

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor

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Hoping for a creative new 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 -

Christmas Paper Quilt Making Kit – a fun Christmas craft

Looking for a fun Christmas project? This Christmas Paper Quilt Making Kit is printable! After ordering, simply download the files, and cut the patterned paper into squares (trim marks are provided). Then get started designing your Christmas Quilt.

Many variations are possible! Your quilt design depends on where you place the patterned squares on the key.

To order and download the Quilt Kit visit: https://www.etsy.com/listing/917211903/christmas-craft-paper-quilt-making-kit

Inject calm into the holiday season with this 15 minute daily practice

Commit to creativity this December!

December can be a crazy month as we prepare for the holidays. I don’t even need to remind you that things are extra stressful this year. One of my favorite things to do in December is to create every single day.

Creativity is very important to me, but life always seems to want to pull me away from it. I should say I let life (and Netflix) pull me away. Because December is such a full month, I find it the most important time to recommit to creativity. I encourage you to the same. Just 15 minutes a day can be such a stress reliever!

For the last few years, I’ve created an illustration each day in December. This year I’m trying a new medium – block printing. I’ve gotten a head start – I organized my tools, watched a few YouTube videos, sketched a few ideas. I’ve even carved two small designs!

In the past my goal was to post a completed illustration each day. This year I simply want to work in the new medium for at least 15 minutes a day. I have to admit it’s hard to be a beginner! That first day carving my linoleum block felt so awkward. But I know from experience that a month of focusing on one thing can lead to real progress.

I hope you’ll join me in creating every day!

There are a lot of great kits to get you started with a new medium in this blog post.

Want weekly creative inspiration? -> Sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

 

Browse Ornaments & Cards in my Zazzle shop.

4 tips for professional looking invitations | Christmas holiday invites | Cookie Swap invitation

Follow through on creative ideas with this simple tool!


One of the biggest problems we have as creatives is too many ideas. Have you ever been working on a project and you get an idea and “squirrel!” – You set off in a new direction? If the same thing happens again while you‘re working on the “new” idea, you’ll never finish anything!

One of the most helpful tools I use to keep me focused is a notebook. My notebook and morning routine have enabled me to keep my New Year’s Resolution (My Creative Resolution) for almost 8 years! Every morning I write in my notebook and check in with my creative projects.

Aside from daily writing, a critical part is checking back on previous entries. Doing this reminds me of past ideas and projects. It allows me to re-focus back on things I may have forgotten about. When I’m revisiting past entries I also can decide which ideas not to pursue, because it’s hard to get things done if we spread ourselves too thin. Looking back allows me to feel satisfaction when I’ve finished a project.

Sometimes I have an idea that in the moment I’m very excited about, but as time passes I lose confidence in it. But when an idea keeps popping up – I know it’s time to follow through.

This is how I was able to finish the book based on My Creative Resolution – “Creative Exploration.” The idea for the book kept coming back to me. I would work on it for a while and then move on to other things. When the book idea came back around for the second or third year in a row, I figured it was time. I immediately hired my own proofreader. I knew having a due date and someone else would hold me accountable to finish a draft.

If you are having trouble following through on your ideas, I encourage you to get your own notebook. Start writing down your goals and ideas. Check in with your notebook (and projects) daily. It makes a world of difference! Want to be creative but don’t know where to start? Try “Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.”

Creative Ideas to make Thanksgiving more fun this year!

Creative Ideas to make Thanksgiving more fun this year!

Thanksgiving is going to be different this year. No more gathering with extended family. We’ll be home, just the five of us. Although we are limited, it is still important to celebrate and make it special. Two of my kids are coming home for college. Being together is always a reason to celebrate!

Creative Ideas to make Thanksgiving more fun this year:

Baked Goods Drop Off

Even though we can’t be with our extended family – it would be really nice to bake things and drop them off on Thanksgiving morning. Show them we are thinking of them. This “Downeast Maine Pumpkin Bread” recipe is my favorite. Pumpkin bread with a nice card would be so sweet! Baking and making cards would be great activities to get everyone in the spirit prior to Thanksgiving Day.

Watch the Parade

The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is always on in our house on Thanksgiving. Even though it won’t be a “parade” but prerecorded segments – I’ll gladly tune in as we prepare our Thanksgiving meal.

Set the Table

Even though our gatherings will be smaller, go all out – china, crystal. Whatever nice stuff you have – use it! Collect acorns and fall leaves to add to your table and make it more festive. Get the kids involved in creating handmade decorations! 

Don’t Skimp on the Sides

You might be tempted to go simpler with your menu – don’t! Make all the favorites. Get the kids involved! 

Gratitude Cards

We always go around the table on Thanksgiving and tell everyone what we are grateful for. 2020 has certainly reminded us what is important. Despite the circumstances we have a lot to be grateful for. These gratitude cards are available in my Etsy shop.

Table Activities

It’s nice to linger at the table on Thanksgiving, but sometimes that’s harder with little kids. Crayons and paper did the trick when our kids were small and we went out to eat. Here are a few Thanksgiving coloring pages available on Etsy to extend your table time.
Pilgrim coloring page fun Thanksgiving activity for kids

The Thanksgiving Walk

In my husband’s family it used to be a tradition to take a walk between the Thanksgiving meal and dessert. This year it would be especially nice, as we could walk with family that live nearby, while still keeping socially distanced.

Thanksgiving Slideshow/Video

After a walk and dessert, it would be awesome to take a “stroll down memory lane” and watch a slideshow or look through photos of previous Thanksgivings. The years go fast and the kids get so big!

Thanksgiving Art Project

How about an art project? This printable step by step tutorial for painting a turkey in watercolor is fun for all ages! Or create a realistic leaf with watercolor. Or create a fall paper quilt and see how different each family member’s quilt turns out! All projects are available in my Etsy shop.

Want to make it a full on paint night? Paint a Turkey on canvas with acrylics. Watch my process on YouTube:
 

Thanksgiving Family Movie

After eating a big meal, it’s nice to rest on the couch and watch a movie together. Just like the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade ushers in the Christmas season with Santa, Thanksgiving night puts me in the mood for a Holiday classic like “It’s a Wonderful Life” or “Elf.” Or maybe we’ll watch a family classic like Indiana Jones or … hmmm. Time for us to each make a list of ideas!

Happy Thanksgiving!
~Eileen

Creative Ideas to make Thanksgiving more fun this year!

 

 

 

 

Woodland Creatures Birch Forest Watercolor Painting Project

This watercolor painting project is a new spin on a my original birch forest painting tutorial. The woodland creatures – an owl, a fox and a bunny – make this new beginner project fun for all ages!

It’s easier than it looks! The final painting may look complex but the instructions – with photos – walk you through the entire project step by step. It’s a great project for home schooling, for a group, or even painting on your own.

Watercolor techniques used:

  • Masking areas with tape
  • Wet on wet painting
  • Splattering
  • Dry on dry painting
  • Painting layers

Supplies you’ll need:

  • Watercolor paper. I use 9” x 12” Arches 140 lb. cold pressed paper. 
  • Painter’s tape
  • Watercolor paint. Colors: orange, yellow, cobalt blue, black
  • Paint brushes – 3 round (1 thick, 1 medium, 1 thin) and 1 flat.
  • Container of water
  • Paper Towel
  • Palette for mixing paint with water. You can use a plastic lid or the top of a plastic egg carton.

The printable pdf instructions are available in my Etsy shop here.

Let me know if you try it – I’d love to see!

*****

Ready to get started in watercolor? The “Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide” is for you!

  • Learn the fundamentals.
  • Practice with exercises & projects.
  • Discover a love of watercolor!

Learn more here!

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor

Fun Beginner Winter Art Project Learn Watercolor Kid Art

Paint a Turkey

How to paint a turkey

As I cleared the Halloween stuff off the mantle and setup up the Thanksgiving decorations I realized my selection was lacking. What to do? Grab a small canvas and paint a turkey of course!

Watch my process in the Youtube video below. Please like and subscribe!

Looking to follow along? You can find a list of my paint colors below.

Watch the video here.

View more fun Fall projects here!

Paint colors I used:

  • Tan – mixed from yellow and brown
  • Brown
  • Dark brown – mixed from brown and black
  • Black
  • Deep Red/Maroon – Alizarin Crimson or mix red with a little blue
  • Pink – mixed from white and deep red
  • Light blue – mixed from white, blue, and a little pink
  • White
  • Green – mixed from Phthalo Green and white