Eileen McKenna Art & Design

Watercolor Art | Creative Inspiration to help you be creative on a regular basis


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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.

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

 


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Are you “creative” or “not creative”?

Are you creative or not creative?
Recently I went to a high school reunion. I went to an all girls high school – which is quite a bonding experience! The “reunion” was a party a bunch of us threw to celebrate our fiftieth birthdays. It was a lot of fun and great to see and spend time with this great group of “girls.”

A few friends commented that they love watching me paint on Instagram. One said that she didn’t remember me being creative in high school. While I loved art class in high school, I certainly didn’t spend my off hours creating. What I think is interesting is that when it comes to creativity most people have an us or them mentality. They assign themselves to one camp or the other – creative or not creative.

They assume you must have an innate talent to paint and probably have always done it. What I believe is that ANYONE can do it. You might deem yourself “terrible” at the start, but with time and effort it is almost impossible to NOT get better. But, it’s hard to convince some people of this. It’s almost like converting them to a new religion. They firmly believe they belong in the “not creative” camp and aren’t willing or don’t think it’s possible to venture out.

What camp are you in? Have you ventured out of your original camp? Or are you ready to?

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 -


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Creative Plans for 2020 – It’s My 6 Year Blog Anniversary!

Creative Plans for 2020 - It's My 6 Year Blog Anniversary!
I am definitely someone who has to keep their creative ideas reined in. I learned during the second year of My Creative Resolution, that trying new things is fun, but learning and progress with new mediums takes time and dedication. If you scatter your time and energy across many different things, you don’t significantly progress in any one area. Growth takes focus.

At the time I tried block printing and thought, “This is cool. This is harder than I thought.” and “It would take time to get better at this.” After a year of trying things in 2015, I decided to focus on watercolor.

As I think about next year. The first thing that happens is I get excited about the idea of “shiny new things.” Then I pause and remember the lesson I learned and really think, “What do I want to focus on in 2020?”

There are two sides to my creative life – me as a creative pursuing what interests me and me growing a creative business. It’s important for me to make the distinction otherwise my list for 2020 will be all business ideas.

Creative business ideas:

Creative ideas:

  • Daily morning work is an important part of my art practice. Keeps me calm and creative. I enjoy it! I paint whatever strikes me that morning. It’s a no pressure time.
  • Seascapes – I am still drawn to the ocean. I never tire of visiting, photographing, and painting the ocean.

My creative ideas seem almost boring because I’m just continuing with more of the same, but as much as a new idea would be “shiny and new” I can’t think of one that would top my interest in the above.

When I write the words that describe me and what I’m interested in it’s, “inspire creativity, teach, paint in watercolor, and the beach.” This just confirms I have the right goals in mind for 2020. I’m sticking to the path I’ve been on.

What are your creative plans for 2020? Hoping for a creative year but don’t know where to start? Try 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 -


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Gifts to Inspire Creativity

Christmas gifts to inspire creativity | unique holiday gifts for everyone creative artist
If you have creativity in your life – regular creativity – you already know what a gift it is. It’s a relaxing time, almost like meditation, and it can ease the anxiety associated with busy lives. 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.

The items show below are all available on Amazon, just click the image to view the Amazon listing details. Read my disclaimer is 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. I started with this Van Gogh watercolor tube set. Combine paints, brushes, a palette, and paper for a great gift!

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


Block Printing Kit – Block printing is so fun and satisfying. This Speedball kit even includes ink!


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 – We just made a Gordon Ramsey recipe and it was the best Shrimp Scampi we ever 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.

Gardening – How about a kit to grow a succulent garden?


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

Embroidery – An embroidery kit is a great way to introduce someone to embroidery. Everything they need is included! Except maybe scissors.

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. 


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Draw Paint Craft 15 Minutes a Day

The path to regular creativity is to simply draw, paint, craft, or whatever interests you, for 15 minutes almost every day. If you schedule the time, and plan for it – even if you are busy – you should be able to manage 15 minutes of creative time most days.

These brief creative periods reinforce your creative priorities, and allow you to get in the creative mindset – which will lead to more creativity, and longer creative session when time allows.

Carving out 15 minutes of creative time says, “This is important to me.” And it is calming and meditative. As you work creative ideas and plans may form – write down your ideas!

Regular creativity opens you up to inspiration, even during other parts of your day.

Want to explore creativity? My new ebook takes you step by step through the process for introducing regular creativity into your life, finding inspiration, and exploring mediums.

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!

Draw Paint Craft 15 Minutes a Day the path to regular creativity


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How to Find your Thing – Art Medium, Subject, Style

How to Find your Thing - Art Medium, Subject, Style | Creative Exploration | creative process discovery
A while back I read an article about an artist who used mannequin parts in her work. I was so inspired by the story! (Not to start creating with mannequin parts.) I was so intrigued that this artist had arrived at a place where this was her thing. How did she get there?

At the time, I had been dabbling in a few continuing ed art classes, but was ready for more. What would I work on if I was totally free to work on anything? If I was free from teachers and classmates, and even the confines of a classroom, what would I create?

It was with this curiosity and excitement that I made My Creative Resolution – the commitment and the blog – and began my creative journey. I was filled with so many ideas and possibilities. I began to create regularly and explore.

In the beginning I wished my work was more cohesive. I was all over the place. Now I know, that’s how you start – by trying everything that interests you – subjects and mediums alike.

Some things are passing fancies, others become common themes that connect your work. The more we persist with a medium, the more time we put in, the more our unique style and skills emerge.

Here is how to find your thing – medium, subject, style:

  • Commit your time to pursuing it.
  • Put in the work regularly.
  • Follow what interests you and try different things.
  • Focus on the mediums and subjects that appeal to you.
  • Continually put in the work.

Ready to find your thing? My new ebook takes you step by step through the process for introducing regular creativity into your life, finding inspiration, and exploring mediums.

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!


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Your Creative History and a Free Worksheet from “Creative Exploration”

“What experiences in your life have shaped your attitude towards creativity and your own abilities?

What has held you back?

What is your biggest creative fear?

Many of us have had experiences where comments from others have affected our confidence and our feelings of worthiness regarding creativity. I was considered pretty creative in my younger years. I loved art class in elementary school. When Mrs. Kareska pushed the cart filled with art supplies into our room I would be bursting with excitement. I recall a project where we were given tissue paper to use to create Christmas cards. The tissue paper was to mimic stained glass. Immediately I had the idea of a wreath with berries on a door. I remember the thrill of realizing my vision.

In high school art class I became aware that other people were more “talented” than I was. One girl, Peggy, drew the most amazing pencil portraits. The shading was incredible. Thinking back on it now, I know that I couldn’t have created those with the skills I had at that time. But it has dawned on me that if I had practiced and learned shading and other techniques, I could have created my own version of portraits that would have made me proud. At the time, I just assumed Peggy could do amazing portraits and I couldn’t.”

Think about your Creative History –> Download a free worksheet about Creative History by clicking here. It’s a sneak peek inside the Creative Exploration ebook.

Learn more about Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here.

how to be creative | creative exploration | regular creative practice | creative worksheet your creative history

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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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


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NOW is the time for YOUR Creative Exploration to begin!

Creative Exploration book -

Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life is a 62 page pdf ebook with:

  • Over 30 Creative Tips
  • Step by Step Process for Introducing Regular Creativity for Six Weeks and beyond!
  • Worksheets for taking stock of your creative goals, history, past hurdles
  • Worksheet for organizing and prioritizing all of your creative ideas.
  • Detailed process for introducing you to different mediums – with flexibility for your interests.

Would you like to:

  • Be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings?
  • Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing?

Creative Exploration is for you! Order now by clicking here.

Creative Freebies - weekly creative planner color wheel printable stickers Creative Exploration ebook
Order Creative Exploration now through September 24th and receive the printable Bonus Kit for FREE!
  • Printable Creative Weekly Planner worksheet
  • Printable Color Wheel and Color Wheel worksheet
  • Printable Creative Exploration “Stickers”

Do you spend more time scrolling and pinning or liking, than doing your own creative projects? Do you dabble in creativity but can’t seem to develop a regular routine? Would you like to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Would you like to start on your own creative journey and explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing?

Creativity is for EVERYONE. Talent is just a starting point.

I once read about an artist and wondered who told her she should pursue creativity, who gave her permission? Thankfully I realized she gave herself permission, and it was time for me to give myself permission. I had goals that involved exploring mediums, developing skills, and finding inspiration, but what I didn’t expect was the feeling that creativity gives me. For a long time regular creativity eluded me, but I finally made a commitment that has brought so much joy into my life, for five years and counting.

I want that for you! I want to share my process for developing a regular creative practice and start you on your creative journey.

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!

regular creative practice | how to be creative | creative exploration


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It all comes down to you

Achieving goals

We went to an indoor rock climbing place for my son’s birthday. I knew he wanted us all to climb and I was fine with that. I’d done it years ago, so I thought it would be no problem. I was all harnessed up, at the bottom of the first wall, when I realized this was going to require effort! If I wanted to get up there, I was going to have to pull myself up. You’re probably saying, “well of course.” I don’t know what I was thinking! For some reason I thought it was going to be easy.

I started climbing and even though I refused to look, I sensed that I was getting further and further from my family, and higher and higher. I’m definitely more anxious than I was years ago, when I last tried it. I becoming afraid of going too high and didn’t make it to the top of that wall, or the next one. I did make it to the top of the wall in this photo!

I couldn’t help but see the analogy between climbing and achieving goals. We might start out thinking that painting, or writing a book, or whatever, won’t be that hard, but when you really get into it, you realize it is. Even if the process (of painting or writing or whatever) is easy for you, the commitment and dedication to finish a project is hard. And when you put yourself out on a limb and go for a goal, even with your family supporting you, it can still be scary.

One of the main things that helps me achieve goals is focus. I try to think carefully about what I want to spend my time on, what goals are important to me. If I pick a project on a whim, I can lose interest or confidence in the project, and I end up jumping from idea to idea without accomplishing anything. But with a carefully selected goal in mind, I have an easier time staying on task. I may falter for a time but the importance of the project will bring me back around.

What helps you achieve your goals?

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