Setting yourself up for Creative Success

I’m excited for Inktober, excited to get back to daily creativity. I’ve adjusted to my new work schedule and am ready to fit drawing and painting in. This is how I’m setting myself up for a successful October and how you can too!

Inktober check off calendar – Eileen McKenna

Organize your supplies. I’ve selected the tools I’ll be using for daily ink drawings – a sketchbook that isn’t great with watercolor but the smooth white pages are perfect for ink. I have enough pages left for all of October plus a few warmup pages. I even dated all the pages to make sure. And I have my favorite ink pen ready – a Uniball signo.

Find something or someone to hold you accountable. I printed a small calendar for daily checking off. I plan on posting my daily work on Instagram. When we feel we have to check in with someone or something (like social media) it helps keep us on track.

Schedule creative time. Pick the time of day you plan on creating. For me it’s early morning before work. It’s a nice relaxing way to start the day. If something gets in the way, I can always catchup later in the day.

“Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life"
Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life”

Make a plan. The more detailed your plan the better. I recommend in my book Creative Exploration that you start simple – pencil and paper. Each week after that you can try out different mediums. I’m participating in Inktober so I’ll be using an ink pen. When the mood strikes I’ll add watercolor. The benefit of some kind of plan is to prevent you from either not sitting down to create because you don’t know what to do or from sitting down and not having any direction. In Creative Exploration I recommend keeping a running list of subject ideas to refer to when you need it.

Find a creative space. Having a designated creative space makes a big difference. Years ago I took over our dining table and leave my supplies out. It makes sitting down to create so easy. No setup needed. Sometimes when I want to get back in the zone, I spend time organizing my supplies and space. By the time I’m done, I’m so ready to get to work!

Be kind to yourself. No one is perfect. Missing a day here or there isn’t the end of the world. Forgive yourself and pick up your pen or paints the next day. Don’t let one day turn into a week.

weekly creativity:

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Immersive Van Gogh

This week I went to the Van Gogh Immersive in NYC. The Immersive is a series of rooms where the walls are screens. Van Gogh’s work has been made into a moving animation. On the screens his paintings and elements from his paintings move and pulse and transform from one to another to music. The movements sometimes makes it feel as if you are riding in an elevator. You are surrounded by the images on all four sides and in one room the images are also projected on the floor!

The projection plays on a half hour loop. We walked in to a bizarre screen of illustrated flies buzzing around. I immediately thought, “Well this is trippy.” We watched the projection two times, from different rooms. My favorite scenes were the sunflowers, the irises and a brick wall, that was made up of a rainbow of colors. 

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Ready to get started in watercolor?

Try my “Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide” where I walk you through the fundamentals of watercolor with exercises and projects. Learn by doing. Discover a love of watercolor today –> Learn more here!

Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide

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!

How to Draw a Leprechaun

A Fun St. Patrick’s Day Art Project

What is St. Patrick’s Day without a few leprechauns hanging around – right? The “How to Draw a Leprechaun” tutorial is fun for all ages!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Pencil
  • Paper
  • Eraser – I like kneaded erasers – no pink smudges!
  • Color – use colored pencils, markers, watercolor paints, whatever you like to add color to your leprechaun!
  • Pen or Thin Marker – my choice is a Uniball Signo Black Gel Pen. It goes on so smooth!
how to draw a leprechaun printable tutorial

Download the Step by Step Tutorial!

The printable tutorial is available in my Etsy shop at

The pdf tutorial is 3 pages and is easy to follow.

Watch the Video

I want to see your leprechaun!

Tag me on Instagram @eileenmckenna

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St. Patrick’s Day Painting Project for Beginners

Ireland is said to have “40 Shades of Green” and in this beginner watercolor project we’ll use as many shades as possible! Beginner friendly! Step by step tutorial with photos walks you through creating this Irish landscape.

In this tutorial you’ll learn:

  • Masking with tape
  • Painting fades
  • Painting layers
  • Painting dry on dry
  • Using gouache – more opaque than watercolor
Fields of Green Ireland Painting Tutorial

St. Patrick’s Day Paper Craft

Download this printable paper quilt kit and have fun making your own St. Patrick’s Day Quilt. The four patterned papers include sheep, leprechauns, symbols of Ireland – harp, shamrocks, and the Irish flag. Fun for all ages!

Download the St. Patrick’s Day Paper Quilt Kit in my Etsy shop here.

For more fun St. Patrick’s Day ideas read Teaching Children about Ireland.

This page 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!

A Creative New Year


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.

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. Be Competitive…with Yourself

Don’t Compare Yourself to Others. Be Competitive...with Yourself

When I was a kid I compared myself to other people. Was I faster, smarter, a better artist than so and so? Part of this had to do with the insecurities of being young. I thought my “abilities” were set in stone. I never thought about how I could improve in an area. As a swimmer, it never occurred to me that I could train differently, harder, or improve my stroke to get better. And we didn’t have access to endless resources on the internet to help with improvement.

Comparing myself had negative effects on me. If someone was better it devalued what I could do. It made me feel like I wasn’t good enough. In my book, Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life, I share the story of getting to high school and seeing amazing pencil portraits by a girl named Peggy. Seeing Peggy’s drawings made me feel bad about myself. It never occurred to me that I could learn new techniques and practice to develop my skills. Looking back – yes Peggy’s portraits were impressive, but all they really did was shine a light on the fact that I lacked shading skills, and experience with portraits. Instead I thought the “comparison” showed I lacked talent and wasn’t “good enough” for art school.

As an adult I’m much more focused on what I’m doing. When I paint, I’m challenging myself. I work at it because I enjoy it, but also because I want to improve. I now know that practice plays a huge part in developing skills. If I’m struggling with a technique I’ll spend time experimenting and sometimes look online for tips. I don’t necessarily equate knowing a technique with being “better” as I would have as a kid. I just think of the person (I learn from online) as more experienced in that area. Or I think of them as someone further along in their creative journey.

I think of each painting as a learning opportunity. What went well? What aspect do I need to work on? Identifying areas to improve upon is the first step to getting better. Even paintings that are unsuccessful are helpful in that they reveal areas to work on. And everyone has their own way of painting (drawing, creating, etc.), their own unique style, which is another reason not to comparing yourself to others. Keep the competition with yourself.

Start your creative journey with:
Creative Exploration 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.

easy watercolor online lesson for beginners fun project Easy Watercolor Seascape online video lesson for beginners


Is the key to watercolor – layers or patience or both?

Recently I was talking to a friend who paints in acrylics. When I said I painted in watercolor she said, “You must be very patient.” I was so surprised by her comment, because actually I’m not patient at all!

As I teach and share more and more of my watercolor process I continually come back to layers. Watercolor painting is all about building up the layers. Paint the first layer wet and loose. Let it dry. Work drier and with thinner brushes with each added layer. As you add the layers, it’s like focusing a lens on a subject. Your painting gets more and more “in focus” as you add layers/finer details.

I’ve been teaching a kids painting class, primarily acrylics. Occasionally we paint in watercolor. What I notice with the kids is they paint one layer and declare the painting done. They are reluctant to wait for it to dry and then add to it.

Maybe I’m more patient than I give myself credit for. I look at each painting like a challenge. The first layer is a blob – the ugly stage. Can I work at it and turn it into something?

Ready to explore creativity? Read 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 -

Gifts to Inspire Creativity

If you have creativity in your life – regular creativity – you know what a gift it is. It’s relaxing – almost like meditating. 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.

Click any image below to view the Amazon listing details. Please read my disclaimer 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. Combine my “Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide.” with paints, brushes, a palette, and paper for a great gift!
Beginner Watercolor Exploration Guide pdf download | how to guide beginner watercolor

Clay Kit

This kit is the perfect gift to get someone started in Polymer Clay. I know because it’s the kit I bought when I wanted to give sculpting a try. It comes with a huge variety of colors as well as tools. Sculpting with polymer clay is easy and fun and your creations bake right in the oven!

Block Printing Kit

Block printing is so fun and satisfying. Create one design and print several copies of it! Pair the Speedball block printing kit with Strathmore cards. The Speedball kit even includes ink and Strathmore makes such nice papers!

Screen Printing Kit

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

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

Learn from one of the best! We just made a Gordon Ramsey recipe and it was the best Shrimp Scampi we’ve 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.


How about a kit to grow a succulent garden?


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


An embroidery kit is a great way to introduce someone to embroidery. Everything is included – except maybe scissors. 🙂

Christmas gifts to inspire creativity | unique holiday gifts for everyone creative artist
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. 

How to Find a Hobby

There are transitions in our lives where we suddenly have more time for ourselves – the youngest starts kindergarten, the kids go off to college, or move out on their own, retirement. With many of these transitions there is a mix emotions, yearning for the time before, coupled with excitement for the possibilities of next phase.

People may advise – do something for you, get a hobby. But the question is often, but what? Here are steps to exploring and finding hobbies that you will enjoy.

1. Compile a list of everything that appeals you. Write a list of every hobby, activity, goal, project, that has peaked your interest over the years. Think both broadly and specific. For example, hiking (broad), refinishing the living room coffee table (specific).

2. Prioritize the items on your list. Use A, B, C, D to assign your level of interest. If there are several items with an A priority, number the As to prioritize them. Rewrite the As in order. You now have a list of what hobbies and projects to try. For more details on the prioritizing process click here.

3. Schedule the time. If you don’t make time for it, it won’t happen. Schedule time to research, learn, and engage in the hobby or project. I recommend at the least five short sessions, and one longer session each week. I try to paint for 15 minutes in the mornings, and once a week I schedule a longer painting session. Put it on your calendar!

4. Focus on one hobby or activity a week. Write a weekly to do list based on the hobby/activity you chose. For example, for hiking your list might include: researching hiking trails in your area, assessing your wardrobe for hiking gear, reaching out to friends to join you on a hike, looking online for hiking tips and info, planning a hike for the week, and ultimately going on a hike.

Tips: Start small. Don’t start out with a 5 hour hike or a large canvas. Try a shorter beginner trail or a small drawing on paper – something less intimidating. Don’t invest a lot. When possible use what you have at the start. If you determine you love a hobby and are going to continue with it, then spend money as needed.

5. Reflect on the week and the activity. Did you enjoy it? Do you want to continue with it? If so do it. If not, go to the next item on your list.

6. Repeat until you find something you want to continue with. Trying new things is fun, but at a certain point you may want to focus. Focusing allows you to improve in a specific area.

Through this process you may even uncover several hobbies you enjoy. You may also find something you like, focus on it for a few weeks or months, and then decide to move on to something else. At that point you can always refer back to your list – or create a new one – to find the next thing to try.

Interested in exploring your creativity? Creativity is for everyone! Talent is just a starting point.

Learn more about 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!

How to Find a Hobby You'll Enjoy | Retirement ideas