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Finishing your creative projects is important

Finishing creative projects
It’s such a good feeling to finish a creative project and motivation for the next one! I used to be awful about following through on my creative ideas. I would start a project excited about my idea and as soon as things got hard or weren’t easily working out like I envisioned I’d give up.
The finished painting:
Jones Beach jetty painting by Eileen McKenna
Where I started from today:
Jones Beach jetty painting in progress by Eileen McKenna
When I started my blog – My Creative Resolution, the first thing I did was pull out unfinished projects and finished them. I didn’t plan it that way I just did it. In doing this I learned so much about pushing through the hard parts of a project and I learned how rewarding and motivating it is to finish. I learned what turned out to be a crucial skill in the beginning of my creative journey. I also learned that done is better than perfect and never finished. And any “mistakes” I make are just lessons for the next project. If you read this far I hope I inspired you to pull out a neglected project and give it another try! Tag me on Instagram @eileenmckenna if you do. 😀
Have so many ideas you don’t know where to start? Gain focus with my Creative Ideas planning worksheet – Download it in my Etsy shop here.
Creative Ideas Planning Worksheet pdf for when you have too many creative project ideas
creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration
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Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.

Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.
As creatives we usually have no shortage of ideas. This is definitely true for me. I never have artist’s block. What I experience is feeling overwhelmed by ideas and not being able to pick a focus and direction.

Gain focus with my Creative Ideas planning worksheet – Download it in my Etsy shop here.
Creative Ideas Planning Worksheet pdf for when you have too many creative project ideas

Before my blog and my creative resolution, I had many unfinished projects lying around. Having the commitment of this blog helped me learn to finish projects. In doing this, I also learned how motivating a sense of accomplishment is! It didn’t really matter what the final result was. What mattered was that I had an idea and executed it to completion. Armed with the learning experience of that finished project, I could decide on the next one.

Now that I’m a bit obsessed with accomplishing things, feeling overwhelmed by a huge list of ideas is very unsettling. This is what I typically do to work through too many ideas.

1. Write down every idea. On one or two pages, write down each idea on a line, one after another. Just getting them out of my head is a bit of a relief.

2. Pause for a moment, drink a coffee, and then read through the list.

3. Prioritize the items on the list. A book I loved – Eat that Frog! 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time – recommends labeling items as A, B, and C. A is the highest priority.

4. Number the A’s. Once the items are assigned A B or C, number the projects labeled A (priority). On a new page write the highest ranked A items, leaving several lines underneath each project. Write a few tasks necessary for this project under the project. This doesn’t have to include every task to complete the project, just the next few steps.

5. Write a To Do list. Because I typically have a few projects going on at once, I take the top tasks under the priority items and create a To Do list.

6. Pick one To Do list item and act on it and complete it.

7. Celebrate the completion of a task by checking it off the list.

8. Move on to the next item on the To Do list. Complete all the items on the list.

9. Create a new To Do list. Once the original to do list is completed, go back to the task lists under the priority projects and use some of the remaining tasks to create another To Do list.

10. Repeat creating To Do lists (and accomplishing the items on them) until the priority projects are completed.

11. Go back to the idea list, once the priority projects are completed. Read through and see if the A B C ratings you gave the remaining projects still apply. Adjust as needed and then go back and repeat steps 4 – 11. Some projects on your idea list will cease to interest you. Cross them off when that happens.

This process gives my mind clarity and then I can focus. I designed a Creative Ideas Worksheet that’s pretty and easy to use! Download it in my Etsy shop here.
Creative Ideas Planning Worksheet pdf for when you have too many creative project ideas

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!

creative newsletter featuring artists crafts tutorials books shows and more | creative inspiration

Too Many Creative Ideas? Here’s How to Gain Focus.


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Birthday Books

books for creatives | art book creative book watercolor painting book
I picked out these creative books for my birthday and they are proving to be great sources of inspiration!

Danielle Krysa’s book “A Big Important Art Book: Now with Women!” I love how the book is divided into art themes and features living artists (so Danielle could ask them lots of questions), as well as deceased artists, and projects for the reader too. Favorite quote from the introduction, “I was quite sure there were more than three women who had ever made art.” Danielle is the author of the wildly popular blog The Jealous Curator, creator of one of my favorite podcasts, Art for your Ear, and author of several other books including a favorite of mine Your Inner Critic Is a Big Jerk: And Other Truths About Being Creative.

Austin Kleon’s Keep Going: 10 Ways to Stay Creative in Good Times and Bad. I found myself nodding along with Austin’s creative advice, like carve out a creative space and/or time. Yup I have that. But there are other tips that made me think, “Wow I never thought about that.” I just finished it and am planning on reading it again. We all need the push to “Keep Going.” I also loved Austin’s other books: Show Your Work: 10 Ways to Share your Creativity and get Discovered and Steal Like an Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative.

Shari Blaukopf’s “Working with Color: Techniques for Using Media on the Go.” I usually shy away from watercolor instructional books because they seem to say the same thing and are focused on the beginner. Shari’s book is more like a collection of her watercolor secrets. And I’ve wondered what her secrets were, since beginning to follow her blog “The Sketchbook” and admiring her work, back when I started blogging. Her ability to paint the colors and shades of snow has always amazed me. Her book has already motivated me to paint on the road – read about my travels and map making here.

Click to order on Amazon:

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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Map Making – the100dayproject – the first week

Map making #the100dayproject
I am so glad I decided to commit to #the100dayproject and decided on the theme of illustrated maps. My decision was a bit spur of the moment, but I’m having so much fun. Since I usually paint for at least 15 minutes every morning, it hasn’t been hard to work on the elements for my map. I decided on Fire Island which is a nearby summer vacation island.

Fire Island illustrated map elements Fire Island illustrated map elements Ferry Fire Island illustrated map elements Fire Island illustrated map elements Surfboards

I’ve been to certain parts of the island, including the iconic Fire Island Lighthouse, so I started what I knew. Today I was doing research and learning about other areas of the island and what might represent these areas. It’s a challenge to represent an area, even one you know well. I’d like to do a map of my hometown, but will it be a map of landmarks meaningful to me, or one that is more universal? It’s a hard call. One that I put off by choosing a different location!

I painted the island itself separately and will add the type and map elements in Photoshop. This way I can resize them and move them around as needed. I had to take some liberties with the proportions of the island, because it is very long and thin. To fit it on the page it would have been a single thin line. Instead, I tried to create a perspective shot of the island, focused on the western edge where the lighthouse is.

I’m planning on finishing up this week. Can’t wait to share it.  I’ll be moving on to a new and exciting location for the next map!

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Anniversary Map – the100dayproject

St. Ignatius Church Long Beach New YorkWedding reception illustrated mapPizza fishing illustrationsNew York City Apartment building | anniversary map unique creative giftLifeguard chair illustration

Last month I created a map of our important landmarks – our first apt., the church where we got married, the reception, favorite beaches, pizza, where the kids were born. I’ve always aspired to create illustrated maps so for #the100dayproject I am going to work on creating map illustrations. I’m so hesitant to say I’m doing it bc 100 days seems like a long time but I also know that 100 days is the perfect amount of time to hone a skill. I hope you’ll tune in to watch my progress and maybe you’ll be ordering up your own anniversary map towards the end! 🤣

My Creative Collection a creative newsletter
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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Unique Gift Ideas for Mom and Grandma

Unique creative gifts for mom and grandma for Mother's Day | personalized gifts for mom and grandmother
It can be so hard to shop for Mom and Grandma. You want to give them something special, but they don’t want anything. Here are some creative ideas to make it easier.

Personalized bracelet. I ordered this bracelet for my mom from Belinda Carmichael on Etsy. It has all of our initials on it. She loves it.
Personalized bracelet for grandma mom | Creative gifts for mother’s day

Ring with birthstones. When I was kid we gave my mom a ring with each of our birthstones – Similar to this one. Now, there are a lot of creative birthstone jewelry options available. Check out the assortment on Etsy here.

Family tree. I personalize this family tree with all your family members, and provide you with a digital file, which you can print at home or send to a printer. Order one in my Etsy shop.
Customizable Family Tree Digital Download Printable | Unique Grandparent Mother's Day gift

Personalize all kinds of stuff with photos or artwork! Sites like Zazzle allow you to upload photos or art and put it on hats, mugs, pillows cards, etc. For a birthday trip we made hats with a picture of my mom on it. They were great! Recently, I took one of my mom’s favorites – an illustration of a girl hugging her mom’s legs – and made it into a card for her. Visit Zazzle.com.
Special Mother's Day card of a little girl hugging her mom's legs | unique Mother's Day card

Frame your own artwork or your kid’s artwork. For Christmas I framed an illustration of the house I grew up in at Christmas time and gave it to my mom.
Custom house illustration painting unique gift idea for mom and grandma

Similar frame on Amazon:
Click image to order.

Photos of children or grandchildren. Plan a photo shoot with all the children or grandchildren. For us, it is rare we can assemble everyone, remember to take a photo, and get a decent one. Instead I had everyone send me individual head shots, which I put together in a frame.

Frames on Amazon:
Click image to order.

Basket of her favorite things. My mom loves tea, so a few times I have picked out items in this theme.
Shamrock tea cup basket with Irish family flate

Similar items on Amazon:
Click image to order.

Personalized ring dish. When I take off my jewelry at night I place it in a pretty little dish a friend gave me. A personalized dish would be such as sweet gift. I love this Cherry Blossom “Mom” dish. 

Monogram bag with her “name.” One year I gave my mom a L.L. Bean bag with “Nannie” on it to hold all her grandmother essentials – tissues, books, snacks, etc. Isn’t she the best?!

Have you given your mom or grandmother creative gifts? I’d love to hear! Comment below.

This posts 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!

My Creative Collection a creative newsletter
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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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Creative Goals and the First Quarter of 2019

Creative goals
I decided it was a good time to see how on track I was with my creative goals for 2019. Ironically I couldn’t remember what my specific goals were. I had to look back to a post I wrote in December. Here’s what I wrote:

My Creative Plans for 2019

  • Paint within a theme. 15-30 day challenges. Explore a theme for two weeks or more. Give myself time off in between.
  • Grow my Etsy shop. At the end of 2018 I began offering my illustrations as digital downloads on Etsy.
  • Learn and explore. I want to continue painting acrylics, would like to try block printing again, and have signed up for a sewing class!

My Creative Reality January – March 2019

I am not really painting in themes for 2 weeks to a month. But what I am doing is painting five mornings a week and working on what I feel like, which are often seasonal illustrations. I am very happy with how this is working out. The work I’m currently doing in the mornings is leading to products for my Etsy shop, as well as using all the accumulated illustrations I’ve painted over the last five years.

Growing my Etsy shop is still my number one project. I am really enjoying painting (of course) but also using those illustrations to design different types of digital products. I feel I won’t be truly able to gauge the success of my shop until I have 100 products in it (not including out of season products).

I haven’t really painted in acrylics BUT am committed to making that happen soon. I did take a sewing class and made a pillow, but haven’t motivated to try to make something else. I really want to use my own fabrics!

Teaching wasn’t a 2019 goal (It was a 2018 goal), but I embraced an opportunity that presented itself and began teaching first and second graders at an after school art studio. I loved it! I’ll get the chance again over the summer. One thing I try to do is be open to opportunities, even if they are out of my comfort zone.

I’m glad I took stock on how I’m doing so far. I’m happy with my progress. And even before doing this, I decided that I would try to pursue the other types of creativity on the weekends. Here are my revised goals.

My Creative Plans for 2019 – Revised

  • Paint regularly. 5 mornings a week
  • Grow my Etsy shop.  100+ products
  • Paint with acrylics on canvas. Seascapes including a 2 canvas piece.
  • Teach – online and in person. Note to self – finish the ice cream cone project. I have two other project tutorial PDFs in my Etsy shop.
  • Submit work to a gallery show (I have a specific one in mind)
  • Collaborate with a sewing blogger – is that you? Contact me!

As I write these revised goals I’m realizing that the more specific the goals, the easier it is to go for them. How’s your creative year going so far?

You may be interested in reading “Writing a checklist to help you achieve your Creative Goals”

My Creative Collection a creative newsletter
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 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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Need Creative Inspiration?

Every two weeks I share in my newsletter all the things inspiring me – artists/makers, different mediums, tutorials, places, books, TV, and more. My hope is to inspire you!

Sign up for the newsletter here.

Read the latest issues here.

The latest issue featured collage envelopes by Lydia of Inkdrop43212. Read more here.
My Creative Collection by Eileen McKenna - a newsletter filled with creative inspiration
My Creative Collection by Eileen McKenna - a newsletter filled with creative inspiration
My Creative Collection by Eileen McKenna - a newsletter filled with creative inspiration

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The First Few Creative Days of 2019

Coastal inspired art | watercolor seascape by Eileen McKenna
2019 is off to a good start! I’m making drawing and painting a priority and try to work in the mornings, even if it’s just for a little bit. It’s fun to sit down with no real thought as to where it will lead and let things unfold.

With painting holiday themed things throughout December, it’s been a while since I painted a seascape. Looking through my stack of unfinished projects, I found the start of a seascape and suddenly felt inspired to finish it. (Our annual New Year’s Day walk at the beach may have also inspired this. The waves were crazy!) Painting the foam was so much fun!

There are two time-lapse videos on Instagram if you want to see how I went from here:
Step one painting the ocean in watercolor

to here:  The secret is a lot of white gouache!
Painting the ocean in watercolor final

As I was looking through my supplies this week, my kneaded eraser was nowhere to be found, I had only one sheet of watercolor paper left, and my favorite sketchbook was running low! I didn’t paint today but I did head to Blick to stock up on these essentials. I usually paint using 9” x 12” or 12” x 12” watercolor paper, but felt inspired to also grab a larger pad of 12″ x 16″.

It’s funny – a few years ago my favorite size was 6” x 6” – so small! It was an accident that I went to the 12” x 12”. I ordered the wrong size, decided to give it a try, and have never looked back!


Prismacolor Kneaded Rubber ErasersCanson XL Mix Media PadsFluid Easy-Block Watercolor Paper Blocks

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the secret to painting watercolor seascapes | how to paint waves