My Creative Resolution – Watercolor, Illustration, Print Pattern Design


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Committed to painting. No excuses!

Committed to painting | Artist's setup
I could have written about how I couldn’t paint this morning during my “extra” hour because they were demo-ing my bathroom. But, I realized in the time it would take to lament about not being able to paint, I could sit down and paint tonight. So I did. I started two new paintings, which will help motivate me to paint tomorrow. I’ve been loving painting every day – I don’t want to lose that! The bathroom will be a month long project. I need to make it work. 🙂

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Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!

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First posts and first creative goals

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Inspired by other bloggers I’m revisiting my earliest posts.

My first post 12/30/13: Happy New Year!

“This year I’m taking my New Year’s resolution to a new level. I’m holding myself accountable, by making a commitment to blog about my progress. In the past I’ve been great in the ideas department, not as good in the follow through! But this time, I hope to draw, paint and create my way through 2014! Join me on the journey so you can witness the successes (and failures) and maybe we’ll both learn a thing or two on the way!”

My second post and a goal: Filling the Sketchbook
Sketchbook

“I plan on filling this sketch book. Although it is a bit daunting! I like saving all my old sketchbooks and looking through them. I even keep drawings that I am embarrassed by. They show me how far I’ve come. I look at old sketches with a fresh perspective and know what is “off.” Sometimes I look at a sketch and proudly think, “I did that?” As I thumb through, I am reminded of projects I was interested in. I can add some of those  to my list for the coming year.”

Present day…
Working in that sketchbook became an important part of my weekly creative practice, and it was a turning point when I started painting in it. I remembered how much I love watercolor! Unfortunately the paper in this sketchbook wasn’t made for adding paint. So when I found the Canson Mix Media sketchbook – that I still use today – I was thrilled. Love the thick bright white pages! In three years I’ve filled at least 8 sketchbooks! Goal reached, and then some!

Did you read:
Does Your Astrological Sign Affect Your Creativity?

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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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This is what a good morning looks like.

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I’m back on track with my creative resolution. I decided on the habits that will keep me creative and successful, and I’m keeping to them, until they truly become habits and I do them without even thinking. I’m working in my sketchbook every morning. Once a week I’m starting the day by painting. It’s such a good feeling to start the day this way. My mind is less cluttered when this is the first thing I work on. It changes my outlook for the entire day.

I had no idea what I was going to work on, as I set up, and taped down my paper. My son’s lacrosse magazine happen to be lying around, and I thought it would be interesting to work with a dry brush – to just capture the shapes and movement. That one little spark of an idea and I was off. I was in the groove. It’s been a while since I’ve felt this way. For the last month or so, when I did paint I was somewhat uninspired.

I really liked how it came out. It felt different for me.

lacrosse


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Creative Habits and Gretchen Rubin’s book

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I’ve been floundering in my creative resolution. I think about drawing and painting a lot more than I actually do it. Most times when I think about it, I can’t seem to take action. When I do sketch or paint, I’m not very inspired, and I don’t feel that hook. I’m not being pulled into the process. The next time around it’s still hard to get started.

I know it’s normal to go through peaks and valleys, but I was starting to wonder what was up. 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 no longer was just 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.”

I still have most of the book to read, and I’m eager to do so. But in the meantime – How to get back to my creative habit? When I look back on the beginning of my creative resolution in 2014, I see I quickly developed tools to help me keep my resolution. Things like “dedicating time to painting,” “five minute sketches,” and eventually “my creative weekly checklist.” These tools worked in the past, so I’m adopting them again now.

My NEW Creative Weekly Checklist:

  1. Draw in my sketchbook every morning (while waiting for kids to get ready). Use an everyday object as inspiration, to make the decision of what to draw easier and quicker.
  2. Post twice a week on my blog. The blog is how I hold myself accountable.
  3. Start the day with a painting – every Wednesday. Flip the priority of the day by starting it with creativity, instead of work. When I do this, even when I work later, my mindset for the day is different. I find myself going back to the paints throughout the day.

And something else I want to keep foremost in my mind – Share what I create, don’t create to share.

How do you keep your creative habits?