my creative resolution

Watercolor, Illustration, Surface Design


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20 consecutive days of drawing and painting

Feathers in my sketchbook. 20 days of drawing consecutively.

My mom called to say, “You haven’t painted today.” Thanks for the reminder mom.

Yesterday I didn’t feel like it but I grabbed my sketchbook anyway. I didn’t want to break my streak. I grabbed a magazine and inspired by the feathers on the cover, started drawing. One night this week I even got out of bed when I realized I’d forgotten to draw! I know how quickly one skipped day can become two or three or more.

Drawing from magazines - Real Simple

Even when I’m reluctant to start drawing or painting once I get started  the switch flips and I’m into it.

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The newsletter goes out every other week and is all the things that are inspiring me – artists and makers, places, crafts and art mediums, tutorials, podcasts, interesting articles, and more. My hope is to inspire you!


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Don’t Stifle Your Own Creativity

Watercolor robin in my sketchbook
Yesterday morning the first thing that caught my eye was a robin on my patio. I was inspired to paint him, but hesitated for a moment. I’ve been painting the beach and beach related things since January. A robin doesn’t fit into my theme. Then I had a break through thought – I’m letting my theme and focus stifle my creativity.

For weeks I’ve been trying to get back into painting. I knew that – for me – working daily in my sketchbook helps bring out other creativity. What I love about my sketchbook is the lack of pressure – draw anything, mess up, add watercolor – it’s all good! But, I had been putting pressure on myself by limiting myself to beach things. Pressure to stay within the theme, pressure to post daily on Instagram.

I’ve recognized my mistake and am changing my attitude. I painted the robin. And tomorrow who knows?

Hey, have you signed up for my email newsletter yet? The next issue comes out soon! It’s called My Creative Collection and is all about the things that inspire me and hopefully will inspire you! You can sign up here. For more information on the newsletter read this post.


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Daily Creative Habits – Take 2

Daily creative habits, sketchbook work, Day 1
Day 1 again. With vacation and other busyness behind me, I’m trying to get back into the creative mode! Back to turning creativity into a habit (again). I played around on my iPad this morning. Later I pulled out my sketchbook.

Drawing on the iPad in Adobe Sketch

I wrote a new checklist to keep me on track.

Creative Checklist:

I know from experience that the daily work, propels me to keep up with the other stuff. How do you stay on track?

Did you see my new “Swimming Laps” pattern?
Swimming Laps fabric print. Swim team, swimmers https://www.spoonflower.com/fabric/6301733-swiming-laps-by-eileenmckenna

I am a huge fan of the Canson sketchbook, because of the bright white, thick pages that don’t buckle when I use watercolor.
Favorite sketchbook

This posts contains affiliate links to products 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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Back to Daily Creative Habits

Back to daily creative habits. Shells in the sketchbook.

For the past couple of weeks I’ve done minimal drawing and painting. Periods like this seem to be a pattern for me. I think about doing creative work all the time, but I put everything before it – even binge watching shows on Netflix. It’s not creative block. I have tons of ideas. I just can’t seem to make myself pick up the sketchbook or sit down with my paints. And as the days go by it gets harder, and harder.

Experience has shown me that these periods can be avoided if I maintain the habit of drawing daily in my sketchbook. So today as I finally grabbed my sketchbook – I made the commitment to draw in it everyday. Other than making the time, I don’t put pressure on myself to make the results great. I know if I do the work, and play around, good things will come. I already feel happier after drawing these shells that I collected recently.

I first learned about the power of habits when I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Back then I had also fallen out of the habit of being creative. I learned from the book that it was harder for me to be creative because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer something I did without thinking.

Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin's book "Better than Before"

Rubin perfectly states it here,
“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

Read Better than Before.

This post contains affiliate links to products 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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The first newsletter issue is out!

My Creative Collection issue 1The first issue of my newsletter “My Creative Collection” went out today. Sign up here to get your copy! Above is a little peek at the intro. As you can see I have inspiring plans this month – that I’ll be sharing in a future issue.

😀 Eileen


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Starting Can be the Hardest Part

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I can write all about the benefits of creating every day, but there are some days where I’m busy, or sick, or just don’t feel like it.

So what to do then? If I really don’t have a second, or I am sick like last week, I put in extra time the next day. Usually I’ll squeeze in some time in the morning to “count” for the day before. When I just don’t feel like it, I try to push through and tell myself…

…just do a little. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. I don’t have to follow the same process like the previous days. Maybe instead of painting, I’ll just do a pencil sketch, or an ink sketch, or just add details to a painting I haven’t finish.

Anything is progress. Starting can be the hardest part and once I tackle that – my mindset often changes and I make a lot more progress than I thought I would.

Today was one of those days. When I finally had spare time to paint, I didn’t want to, but the last two days were busy and I hadn’t done much, so I forced myself to get to work. I looked through my reference photos and decided to sketch the lifeguard chair. I figured sketching it would be progress. I liked my sketch and decided to add watercolor. My attitude totally changed and I was so glad I pushed myself to start.


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Creative Habits

scissors

Early last year, I was struggling to get back into a creative routine. I spent a lot of time thinking I should draw or paint, but for some reason I couldn’t motivate myself to pull out my art supplies and get going. I knew starting was the hardest part, but still I couldn’t do it. By chance I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Within a few pages, I had the answer to my problem. I had fallen out of the habit of being creative. It was harder for me to do it, because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer a habit – something I did without thinking.

Rubin perfectly states it here,

“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

This was an “aha” moment for me. I immediately took action, following Rubin’s advice to try to make creativity a habit again. I highly recommend you read this book!

This post contains affiliate links.


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The power of creative prompts

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Happy New Year! I took the last few days “off” from my daily drawing and painting, but I’m gearing up to spend every day in January painting the beach.

I did spend a day or two getting a head start on this project. But there were more days where I thought about getting started but – without actually approaching the paints and paper – I didn’t know where to begin and quickly lost all motivation. Last month Marion who joined me in the Christmas countdown wrote – about following my prompts -that she liked not having to think about what to draw.

This really stuck with me and as I looked over the last two months, first following World Watercolor Group’s food prompts and then my own Christmas prompts, I realized how right Marion was. It makes it so much easier to not have to think about what to paint. Instead I would immediately jump to how I would interpret that prompt. Often I’d check the prompt the night before and have a plan when I started in the morning.

This week I struggled with motivating myself because even though I knew I wanted to paint the beach, I wasn’t sure how to get started. The “beach” is too broad. To overcome this stumbling block I wrote myself a prompt list for every day in January.

Focusing on painting the beach is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. For some reason I haven’t been able to do it beyond a painting here or there. When I saw how much I accomplished in November and December by following one theme each month I knew committing myself this month was part of the solution. That and telling YOU. Just like 3 years ago when I started this blog and told you I’m going to be creative on a regular basis. You hold me accountable and help me reach my goals. So thank you. 😊

What are your creative plans for the new year?


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I’ll admit it…There aren’t any daily creative habits going on here :(

sketchwithsneaks
I admire those that have committed to a daily creative practice and keep to it. People like Crystal Moody and Charlie O’Shields and so many others. But I can’t do it. I’ve done it for short spurts – 14 days for Valentine’s Day or 17 days for St. Patrick’s Day. I’ve done numerous consecutive days in my sketchbook but inevitably I break the chain.

I’d like to say, “I don’t have the time,” but that isn’t entirely true. I do have other things going on that take a lot of my time – my family, which includes my 3 kids, and my design and marketing business. But I also find time to binge watch Netflix shows, so time isn’t the whole problem.

I get very focus on whatever project I’m working on. It may be painting, or my sketchbook, or it may be a new website I’m developing, or getting the kids ready for the start of the school year. I’ll have blinders on and that project will be what I do when I have a minute to spare. Sure I’m still multi-tasking all the other stuff, but it can be hard to mentally squeeze something else in. Lately my creative practice feels scattered, like it hasn’t been the focus in a while.

It’s not that I’m not a disciplined person. I run 3 days a week. Eat fairly healthy. I am very disciplined about my work. I work from home for myself. So I guess I need to be.

I know from Gretchen Rubin’s book “Better than Before” that it’s easier when something is a habit. We do it without thinking. There is no internal willpower struggle to do it. I put on my running clothes and sneakers when it’s time to run. I may not be happy about it all the time, but I get out there and do it.

I was briefly in the habit of sketching with my coffee while I waited for the kids to get dressed for school. I’d sit down with my coffee, grab the sketchbook without thinking, and start doodling any everyday object I could find. It was great, and it would get me thinking of things I’d like to paint. This 5 minute habit encouraged more creativity. But inevitably one day I wouldn’t feel like it and the doodling would become only occasionally.

Being creative makes me happy, but right now I feel like I’m only doing the bare minimum. I know a daily habit is very effective for many people. I also know it’s not my personality. Some days I want to dive into creativity and other days I want to, or have to, dive into something else. For me it doesn’t have to be daily, but I need some kind of structure and routine to make sure the creativity happens.

I read in Rubin’s book about bundling habits. Adding something to an already established habit. That’s what I’m going to try now. On the days I go running, I’m going to create. As I get ready for my run, I’m going to set up my supplies. I’ll get the process started and when I come back from my run, I’ll “dig in” and get creative.

How do you make sure your creativity happens?

 


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Lessons Learned on my Creative Journey

flowers
In the beginning, I paused every few months and wrote about what I’d learned so far about creating art, and about myself. Just 1 post shy of 300 posts I decided to reflect again. Here is what I’ve learned on my creative journey:

  1. There are ups and downs in a creative practice. Stick with it through the down times, an up time is coming, and you never know how high you’ll climb.
  2. Practice does make (almost) perfect.
  3. Accountability motivates you to get stuff done.
  4. You can retrain yourself to embrace better work habits.
  5. There is character and style to the “imperfect.”
  6. Share what you create, don’t create to share.
  7. Those beautiful Instagram posts only tell a sliver of a story. Don’t fall into comparing yourself.
  8. Interviews with other creatives tell much more of the story, and can be very real, and very inspiring. I love listening to podcasts.
  9. It takes time and work to develop your style.
  10. Capture the moments when you feel inspired – snap a photo or jot down a note, for later.
  11. Don’t wait for inspiration to strike or a plan to form, sit down and start creating, and things will start to unfold.

My other “lessons learned” posts:

What have you learned on your journey?