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Practice makes Progress

Acrylic seascape by Eileen McKenna | painting waves
Above my most recent acrylic seascape.

When I was younger and had less confidence in my artistic abilities I was hung up on talent. Nowadays I think of talent as just a starting point. It is almost irrelevant because if you work at drawing or painting, or whatever medium suits you, you will get better. I saw this in myself and in others (both online and in person). As I continue to paint my seascapes in acrylic paint (vs. my usual watercolor) I see how I have progressed. When I notice areas in a painting that need work, I try to improved them, or I think of ways to enhance these areas in the next painting. 

My first acrylic seascapes:
Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic
Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.

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Want to be Creative? Start here.

Want to be creative? Start here! creative inspiration | how to be creative
Want to be creative but don’t know how/where to start? Try these 3 steps!

  1. Open your eyes to inspiration – “stop and smell the roses.” Take off your blinders and notice things – The flowers on your walk, the fruit in the fridge, everyday objects. Ever look at how interesting the shape of scissors is? Take photos. Make a list of things to sketch.
  2. Start simply with paper and pencil. Sketch the things that catch your eye. Sketch everyday or every other day, even if it is for just 5 minutes. Form a creative habit.
  3. Practice makes progress. Sketch your subject not once but several times, studying the object as you draw. With each sketch you’ll learn more, and notice more. And as your sketch gets better – you’ll be motivated to continue your new creative practice.

A piece of printer paper and a pencil will suffice, but if you want to invest in your creativity purchase a sketchbook, a set of pencils, and an eraser. See my recommendations below:

Sketchbooks – don’t buy anything that you’ll feel is too nice, too “precious” – that you’ll be worried about ruining. You should feel free to practice and play in your sketchbook. I started with a Strathmore Sketch Pad. If you like book form try this Strathmore in 9″ x 12″, or 5.5″ x 8.5″.

Pencils – drawing pencil sets come with B pencils and H pencils. B pencils are softer, H are harder. A 6B is softer than a 2B. H pencils are great for fine lines, while Bs are great for shading. I use Derwent pencils.

Eraserkneaded erasers are the best. They remove the pencil from the paper (without leaving a pink smudge). I use this eraser.

Spend time in this creative phase – weeks, months, it’s up to you. When you are ready to “kick” it up a notch read this.

 

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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Creativity and Procrastination

Creativity and Procrastination
I’ve been frustrated this summer about not finishing my creative projects. I have a bunch of ideas I want to pursue but can’t seem to get anywhere. I knew that one problem was the fact that I had so many things that I was dabbling in. You can’t move very far forward if you keep changing paths. Also, I couldn’t blame time, I had the time, but I lacked the motivation to get to work.

On a recommendation, I downloaded the book “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” and it immediately resonated with me.
Eat the frog - procrastination
Not only does the book address the things holding me back, but the author presents clear strategies to overcome this. Just reading a few pages motivated me!

Number one: I needed to define my primary goal, which is to continue revamping my online art shop. Once I identified this as the primary goal, and other projects as less important, I was motivated to attack the list of to do items (I already had). And once I accomplished one thing on the list, I was motivated to attack several other items – just as the quote above states.

Ironically this feeling, of being pulled in several directions and not finishing anything, isn’t new for me. In fact, when I started this blog (My Creative Resolution) it was my #1 problem. Having the blog, held me accountable – I felt I had to finish a project (or at least move forward) so I had something to post. And I was motivated to spend the first month or so pulling out old projects and finishing them. It was very cathartic, very satisfying, and very motivating.

I feel that way now, I’ve accomplished a lot with my online shop and am just waiting for new prints to come in. While I wait my mind is clearer to move onto the next priority – finishing my latest acrylic seascape painting. Prioritizing has helped me focus tremendously.

Click her for more info on “Eat that Frog!”

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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Filming Your Art Process

Filming Your Art Process #phone #stand
I’m really excited about the gift I recently received. It’s a stand to hold my phone above my work area so I can make a video of my painting process. The stand is called an Akron Kitchen Desk Table Stand.

Previously I would try to hold my phone or iPad in front of me so I could record a short snippet of my process. People seemed to like these videos and also like the posts where I showed the stages of a painting. Recording an entire painting from start to finish seemed like it would be interesting and helpful to share. And in timelapse you could see the entire process of a painting in a few minutes!

Click here to see one of my first videos with the new stand on Instagram. It’s where I add the foam of the ocean. What a difference from the starting point to the end!
Painting sea foam with white gouache #watercolor #ocean

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!

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!


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A New Year’s Resolution – Heading into Year 5!

A New Year’s Resolution - Heading into Year 5!
It’s hard for me to believe that 4 years ago – at the start of 2014 – I made a New Year’s Resolution to be creative. Before that I was creative off and on, often while taking a class, but never consistently. I wanted to be creative on a regular basis and find what interested me. I was open to any type of creativity, exploring was going to be part of the fun. I thought I might get into furniture refinishing.

Starting this blog, that I called “my creative resolution,” was to hold myself accountable – even if no one was reading. Although there have been ups and downs, and at times I even thought of stopping – this blog and regular creativity have brought tremendous joy to my life. I pushed myself to complete things, and achieve goals that I never would have without it. I’ve always found that the periods right after thinking about stopping, were hugely productive and creative.

That first year, I started with acrylics, but quickly went back to watercolors, realizing how much I love painting in watercolor. I love that you can’t fully control the results and have to go with the flow. Even though I’ve tried other mediums, watercolor is definitely my medium.

I started 2017 with the project of “painting the beach.” The beach has always been a special place to me – I grew up in a beach town, played there, worked there, and now live just 15 minutes away. As I started to have success with capturing the water, I felt I had found my thing. For most of the year I concentrated on painting the ocean and will continue this in 2018. You can see many of my ocean watercolors and purchase prints at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!

As I begin the 5th year of my creative resolution – I’m excited and hopeful. I know that when you put in the time and work amazing things are possible! Happy New Year!

Want to see my tips on keeping a resolution? Read 9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s resolution.
9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's resolution #resolution #new #years

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!


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The Feelings of a Beginner

The feelings of a beginner #creativity #painting I realized this weekend how discouraging it can be to be a beginner. I worked on two very different projects for me. One was a paper diorama. The other was painting two canvases with acrylics.

In both cases I was an unorganized mess. Materials all over. I had the wrong tools. I was literally uncomfortable. And in both cases, things weren’t turning out so great. Self doubt leaked in and I thought, “This is a waste of time.”

I realized this morning that all these feelings were related to being new to something. Thankfully, I had the perspective of the two very different projects. Otherwise I would have thought, “I’m not good at that.” When I looked over at my watercolor setup this morning, I saw all the things these past years have given me – routines, methods, techniques, the right tools, etc. These things make it easier to sit down and create comfortably and not let self doubt in (as much).

If I continue with acrylics or dioramas or any other new thing, over time things will get better and easier. If you are a beginner – don’t give up! Allow time to work out the kinks. Then you’ll have a comfortable “space” to freely create.

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! The perfect gift for beach lovers.


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Finally a quiet house :)

image

The kids are back at school and the house is quiet. It’s the perfect time to get back to painting. Once I set up, I accomplished a lot in a short amount of time.

I took a unfinished painting – a wash of colors – and added a lighthouse. And I started a painting of a little girl at the beach. Looking forward to much more painting time this fall! 😀


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Time to Paint

gerberadaisiesp
It feels really good to have time to paint and draw after vacation (and the time before it – shopping, prepping, and packing). I spent time Sunday starting several paintings. For me, it’s the starting that’s hard, once I have a painting “in the works” it’s easy to pull it out and work on it (unless I let too much time pass).
bike

The three paintings were very different. You’d never guess I started them all at the same time, but they did have something in common. Before I started painting I turned to my Camera Roll on my phone for inspiration. All three were inspired by recent photos I took, or in one case, a photo I spotted on Instagram (that I took a screen capture of).
rooster

The orange gerbera daisies (my favorite flowers) were outside of the supermarket. The rooster roams around outside of my son’s friend’s neighbor’s house. Who knew you could find a rooster this close to NYC? The vintage bicycle with the lilacs was posted on Instagram by Kathleen @fadedcharmliving.
gerbera roosterpic fadedcharm

I’m trying to paint more. I had gotten away from it a bit. Not that long ago, I painted in this square size so frequently I put all the painting together and took a photo. My goal is to create another grouping of square paintings. I have a ways to go!
8inchpaintings


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“Can I sell this?” can squash creativity

tiels)
I used to start creating something, not even finish, and jump to “Can I sell this?” I think I was in this mindset because at the time my creative outlet was my custom invitation/announcement business. This type of thinking was stifling my creativity, and was getting annoying. It prevented me from following through on ideas.

I started drawing and painting and left the invitation business behind. Classes really helped get me going, but after a while I wanted to see what I would work on on my own. What would inspire me without class assignments? But I had trouble motivating myself, so I started this blog. There in my original notes for this blog was “spend 3 months creating then open an online shop.”

I had given myself permission to create whatever I felt like, and to worry about selling later, even if it was just for 3 months. Once I started working at it, projects led to other project ideas. Trying one technique led to the desire to learn and try other techniques. I fell in love with creating. The voice asking, “can I sell this?” got quieter and quieter.

But, I saw other artist selling on different sites, in different ways, and wondered, “what is the best way?” So after ten months, I wrote a post asking for input on “where to sell.” One comment closed the door on selling for me:

Robert McArthur wrote,
“Hi,
I know this doesn’t answer your question, but I do have a string set of thoughts on this that I would like to share with you. Unless you have a pressing financial need to sell your work, I feel it is best to not consider selling your work. Instead focus on your art. Do you need to sell? If so ignore this. Otherwise, the need to make your work marketable will, if even subconsciously, cause you to change what you do, thus preventing you from freely developing naturally.”

My reply was,
“I appreciate your comment! I have been thinking the same thing. As I think about selling, I’ve been playing around with creating things that are more marketable. Just as you say, it’s affecting what I create. I really enjoy playing and creating whatever comes to me. I love how the final piece can be so unexpected (to me). If I continue in this way, I risk taking some of the joy out of creating. And the pieces I really love I wouldn’t consider selling! Thank you for writing what I was thinking.”

Robert McArthur had put into words that “thing” that had previously ruined my creativity. I was having so much fun creating I didn’t want to ruin it. And spending my time filling orders didn’t sound fun either.

Currently my state of mind is that my business is print and web design. But, I draw and paint because I love it. It brings me joy. I create patterns because I think it is fun to turn illustrations into patterns, and I love seeing those patterns printed. (My patterns are available for sale, but that wasn’t the motivation in creating them.)

It is very freeing not thinking about selling or what other people are doing. Although those paintings are piling up. Never say never. 😉

 


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Today is a special day

grilledcheese
Today is my birthday! My husband said this morning, “I’ve never meet anyone who loves their birthday as much as you.” It’s true. Even though I don’t necessarily want to get older, I feel like my birthday is a special day. Maybe growing up the youngest of four, I loved when the focus was all on me! Other special April birthdays include my mom – who always makes me feel special on my birthday (and every other day of the year). She is the best. Love you Mom!

You may be wondering, “Why the grilled cheese?” Today is also National Grilled Cheese Day. My friend Charlie at doodlewash, in honor of his April birthday, has invited everyone to “doodlewash” a national or international day. Charlie is a prolific artist and blogger. Not only does Charlie share his art and an interesting story every day, he also shares other artists with us. I always love reading Charlie’s posts. They usually remind me of some detail from my own childhood. And I love learning about the other artists around the world that he features on his blog. I even had the pleasure of being featured on doodlewash!

Enjoy this special day!