Creativity is for Everyone!


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How to Pick a Creative Project

I’ve been thinking I need a creative project to help motivate me during self quarantine, especially since things don’t seem to be opening up any time soon. If this is going to continue – for 2 weeks, a month, more? – it would be nice to have something to do, practice a skill, and work towards a goal or final product.

How to Pick a Creative Project

It’s a challenge to pick a project. I definitely have ideas, but it’s like standing at a fork in the road and not knowing which direction to take. Here’s how to pick a creative project:

Step 1. Write down all the ideas that have been floating around your head.

Step 2. Evaluate the ideas. Which items are things you really want to work on? Which project would yield results you’d be especially excited about? Which project could you see yourself being excited about every day?

Here’s my list so far:

  • Drawing Lesson – Continue developing my online drawing lesson.
  • iPad drawing – practice
  • Color Wheel Book – Continue working on – illustrate
  • Clay – Learn polymer clay and create sea creatures (as an example for in person art camp project).
  • Watercolor – work on a specific subject or in specific colors
  • Video – Create another video promo.
  • Sew masks
  • Other idea

My list is often filled with things I think I should do or would like the final results of, but not things I feel like working on EVERY DAY.

Having trouble picking one idea? Sometimes we don’t know until we try. Spend a day sampling the project ideas you are most interested in. Spend 15-20 minutes on each project. Which one sparks the most interest and excitement?

Step 3. Pick a project. Make a decision and stick with it.

Step 4. Plan your creative time. Pick the time (and place) that you will work on this project. It’s easier to remember and make it happen if it’s every day at the same time. Things don’t happen if you don’t plan for them to happen.

Step 5. Follow through! Every project has peaks and valleys. Push through the hard days, do the work and the results will follow. Even 15 minutes a day adds up and is progress!

Want to be creative but don’t know where to start? Start your creative journey with my book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life.

Learn more by clicking here.

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice
Start your creative journey today!

 

Plan your creative time  | regular creative practice | how to be creative | creative exploration

Plan your Creative Time | Creative Exploration – How to be creative | How to start an art practice


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Finding creative inspiration during self quarantine

Finding creative inspiration during self quarantine

These days I can’t blame lack of time for a lack of painting. Being stuck at home, I’ve got nothing but time. What I am struggling with is what to paint. Sometimes it seems easier to go on my iPad than to figure out an idea.

Coincidentally my son asked me the other day, “Do you always know what you’re going to paint?” As I indicated, the answer is no, and it can be a real roadblock. When you are out and about, experiencing life, you are soaking up inspiration. Nowadays, not so much.

Here are some ways to find creative inspiration during self quarantine:

Go outside (in whatever way is safe for your situation). Walk around your neighborhood, or your yard, or sit by a window. The birds, trees, flowers, clouds, all provide inspiration. Absorb it, and take photos.

Look through your phone. What inspiration did you capture on your phone that you never drew or painted? Now you have time. I’ve made albums on my phone to separate inspiration photos.

Look online. If you have a subject in mind of course there are tons of photos online to choose from. There are also sites dedicated to providing reference photos for art. This post links to several sites with reference photos for drawing figures.

Technique. Perhaps there is a technique you admire others doing. Try it! Find reference photo appropriate to that technique and practice. I admire paintings with sun dappled water, so I found a photo and tried it.

Catalogs. I keep catalogs to use as reference. Athletic attire ones have great figures to practice from, and sometimes great scenery. Recently I painted a skier and mountains from an ad in a magazine. I also painted a woman doing a headstand. I love the Burpee plant and seed catalog, such beautiful flowers and vegetables to paint!

Look around your home. Walk slowly around your home and see if there are any interesting subjects or arrangements to paint. Try to look at your space with fresh eyes. Or paint or draw an ordinary scene like the couch with a lamp, but add interesting wallpaper to it. Reimagine your space.

Set up a still life. Create an interesting composition with things in your home. The refrigerator is a great source of interesting looking things. Cut some fruit in half.

Portraits. In self quarantine with loved ones? Make them the subject of your next project.

Color. Try a project where it’s less about what you are painting and more about the color palette you are using. You could even recreate a painting you’ve done before but with a different color palette. In my “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program we explore painting using Monet’s winter palette. It is such an interesting exercise!

I’d love to hear how you’re staying inspired!

“Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” is a 4 week online program aimed at inspiring regular watercolor painting and learning through virtual immersion into the city of Paris! Learn more here.
Quarantine inspiration painting Monet’s winter palette in watercolor
Painting with Monet’s winter palette in the
“Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” 4 week online program. Learn more here.
Watercolor painting flowers self quarantine inspiration
Painting Marie Antoinette’s embroidered flowers in the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” 4 week online program. The program is aimed at inspiring regular watercolor painting and learning through virtual immersion into the city of Paris! Learn more here.


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Soaking up Inspiration

Soaking up inspiration for the next seascape painting
It’s hard to know what I enjoy more, a visit to the beach or time spent painting. Recently I did both in the same day. Obviously it was a good day.
Beach day by Eileen McKenna
Beach day by Eileen McKenna shadow in the foam
The beach visit was an early morning one with my husband and coffee. Love those.

The painting session – which took place at home later on – was with acrylics on canvas, instead of my usual watercolor. I’ve been itching to get back to acrylics. I worked on a canvas I had already started, and was able to finish it, which felt great.
Acrylic seascape painting by Eileen McKenna

I’m looking forward to another day like this one!

I share creative tips and inspiration in my weekly newsletter. Sign up now and get the following freebies:

  • Watercolor Quick Start Guide – everything you need to know to get started in watercolor
  • 50 ideas on what to draw or paint

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Inspiration for painting flowers in watercolor

Creative morning setup
I don’t always have an idea or inspiration when I sit down to paint. Once I’m there at the table it’s rare I spend more than a minute or two coming up with an idea. I usually start with doodles in my sketchbook and then move on to paintings that are in progress. I’m in a good routine of sitting down most mornings right after the kids go to school before anything else starts. I’m so excited for spring and for flowers, so I’ve been painting from the Burpee catalog. I always listen to a podcast while I work. One of my new favorites is Etsy Conversations. What’s your creative routine?
Painting flowers in watercolor - ready for spring!

Have you visited my Etsy shop yet? There’s printables for each holiday, invitations, and even digital gifts!
Digital Downloads clipart prints invitations cards gifts | printable

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” where I feature artists and makers, and link to inspiring art, design, and craft, inspiring places, interesting books, movies, and more. It’s a collection of all the things inspiring me delivered to your inbox every two weeks. Click here to sign up.


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Inspiration at the Bird Feeder

Inspiration at the bird feeder by Eileen McKenna
This week I only had to glance out my window for inspiration. There are always birds at the feeder and unfortunately squirrels too. I’ve been in a good routine since the start of the year. Monday through Friday I sit and paint after I get back from bringing my son to school. I try not to get involved in anything else because then I may not get around to painting. Even if it’s a day I go out to work, I sit and paint for 15 minutes – if possible.

My goal for the new year was to work within themes, which I’ve done here and there. This week I definitely had a theme going on. Previous weeks I’ve worked on Valentine’s Day illustrations and more recently St. Patrick’s day illustrations. I’m really excited about the items I’ve been adding to my Etsy shop. Have you visited my Etsy shop yet?
Printable Ireland St. Patrick's Day Coloring Pages make a Coloring Book Kids Class Activity Digital Download is a great way to teach kids about Ireland. Color and fold to create a book! Perfect for St. Patrick's Day.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” where I feature artists and makers, and link to inspiring art, design, and craft, inspiring places, interesting books, movies, and more. It’s a collection of all the things inspiring me delivered to your inbox every two weeks. Click here to sign up.


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Dogwoods my next print pattern design?

Dogwood flowers in my sketchbook Just like I knew it would, working every day in my sketchbook has really opened me up creatively. That and working beyond the beach theme. It’s been 12 consecutive days!

This week the dogwoods right outside our windows have been calling to me! I’m thinking about using my dogwood illustrations to create a repeating pattern. I’ve been designing a pattern a month this year. See my other designs here.


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A trip to New Orleans

New Orleans sketchbook watercolor

There’s nothing like a vacation to recharge your batteries. We took a trip to New Orleans. I have always wanted to go but didn’t know what to expect.

Highlights included:

  • Delicious beniots
  • An adventurous swamp tour searching for alligators and enjoying the beauty of the swamp. Love that Spanish moss!
  • Delicious dinners of catfish, gumbo, lobster dumplings, biscuits and more. With sweet cocktails.
  • An Easter parade where they threw beads to all the onlookers. A taste of Marie Gras!
  • Street performers of all kinds – even writers for hire!
  • A walk along the Mississippi, where we saw a paddle boat
  • Visit to the WWII museum
  • A walking tour of the cemetery and garden district
  • A trolley ride
  • The French quarter – Beautiful wrought iron balconies, flowers, gas lamps, exposed brick
  • Brunch at the House of Blues

It was a great trip with the extended family!

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All About Portraits

The fourth issue of my newsletter comes out tomorrow and it’s all about portraits. Sign up here so you don’t miss it!

I started “My Creative Collection” to share all the things that inspire me, in hopes of inspiring you! It contains artists and makers, places, crafts and art mediums, tutorials, podcasts, interesting articles, and more. You can view past newsletter issues here.

Thanks for signing up!
😀 Eileen

My Creative Collection


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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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InkTober recap

Participating in InkTober was a great motivator. I got into the habit of working daily which was great. I didn’t follow the prompts but worked on what inspired me. I held off on adding Watercolor to my ink sketches, but towards the end I gave in. And purely by chance I got to meet the creator of InkTober Jake Parker!

I felt so good about doing all 31 days that this month I’m following the World Watercolor Group’s prompts. I’m glad to be back using Watercolor. Of course I’m still adding in some ink too!

Here are my favorites:

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