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Kick up your Creativity with Color!

Kick up your Creativity with Color! Steps to Creativity for everyone
Want to be creative but don’t know how/where to start? If you haven’t already, click here and start with these 3 steps! If you have started with the beginning 3 steps, then you’ve accomplished a lot!

  • Your eyes are open to inspiration. You take photos and make lists of things to sketch.
  • You’ve been sketching regularly in pencil. Hopefully noticing the difference between the softer B and the harder H pencils. You have a regular creative practice!
  • You don’t just draw something once – you practice drawing it several times. Take a moment to look through your sketches and see overall how much you’ve progressed!

Well done. When you are ready, move on to these steps – that are all about Color!

1. Colored Pencil or Watercolor? – The next logical step may seem to be colored pencils, but if you are itching to paint, and want something more fluid, I recommend watercolor. Here is where YOU decide what path your creative journey takes. This is about finding what YOU like. If you need recommendations on either see below.

2. Start simply with your sketchbook. Continue with your creative habit of sketching regularly – but now use color! You can use regular pencil first and then add color – or start directly with color. I recommend working in your sketchbook because it’s a no pressure, play zone, where you can practice and learn. Note: if you decide to use watercolor – please look at my sketchbook recommendation below, so your pages don’t buckle.

3. Beyond the sketch. After practicing in your sketchbook, it’s time for a drawing or painting that you spend more time on. After all your loose, quick sketches, you are ready. It can be a page in your sketchbook, or perhaps use a nicer paper – see recommendations below based on your choice of medium. Before you start, plan it out. Pick a reference photo, study it, and lightly plan it out in pencil.

When you are working on a drawing or painting for a longer period of time, stepping away and coming back to it with fresh eyes, helps a lot. I sometimes work with my reference photo and paper upside down – to check that things look right. Don’t expect immediate results. Don’t give up because it isn’t looking like you envision. I used to be a “quitter,” but I learned that it takes time, and the results often surprise me if I stick with it, and work through “mistakes.” In the end, any “weak” areas – are just things to work on for the next time. It’s a learning process. Good Luck!

My recommendations:

Colored PencilsPrismacolor Colored Pencils
Strathmore Bristol Vellum Pad – Smooth thicker, bright white paper – great for a colored pencil project.

Watercolor Tube Sets – I love Windsor & Newton paints and started with their affordable Cotman “student grade”
Canson Multimedia Sketchbook – I love this versatile, bright white, thicker sketchbook paper
Fluid Watercolor Paper – great for a watercolor painting. Tape down the sides to a larger piece of cardboard with painter’s tape to prevent buckling!

Colored Pastels are another option. I never really got the hang of them, but my daughter loves them. She uses the Prismacolor sticks.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.

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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Practice makes Progress

Acrylic seascape by Eileen McKenna | painting waves
Above my most recent acrylic seascape.

When I was younger and had less confidence in my artistic abilities I was hung up on talent. Nowadays I think of talent as just a starting point. It is almost irrelevant because if you work at drawing or painting, or whatever medium suits you, you will get better. I saw this in myself and in others (both online and in person). As I continue to paint my seascapes in acrylic paint (vs. my usual watercolor) I see how I have progressed. When I notice areas in a painting that need work, I try to improved them, or I think of ways to enhance these areas in the next painting. 

My first acrylic seascapes:
Transitioning from watercolor to acrylic
Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.


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Want to be Creative? Start here.

Want to be creative? Start here! creative inspiration | how to be creative
Want to be creative but don’t know how/where to start? Try these 3 steps!

  1. Open your eyes to inspiration – “stop and smell the roses.” Take off your blinders and notice things – The flowers on your walk, the fruit in the fridge, everyday objects. Ever look at how interesting the shape of scissors is? Take photos. Make a list of things to sketch.
  2. Start simply with paper and pencil. Sketch the things that catch your eye. Sketch everyday or every other day, even if it is for just 5 minutes. Form a creative habit.
  3. Practice makes progress. Sketch your subject not once but several times, studying the object as you draw. With each sketch you’ll learn more, and notice more. And as your sketch gets better – you’ll be motivated to continue your new creative practice.

A piece of printer paper and a pencil will suffice, but if you want to invest in your creativity purchase a sketchbook, a set of pencils, and an eraser. See my recommendations below:

Sketchbooks – don’t buy anything that you’ll feel is too nice, too “precious” – that you’ll be worried about ruining. You should feel free to practice and play in your sketchbook. I started with a Strathmore Sketch Pad. If you like book form try this Strathmore in 9″ x 12″, or 5.5″ x 8.5″.

Pencils – drawing pencil sets come with B pencils and H pencils. B pencils are softer, H are harder. A 6B is softer than a 2B. H pencils are great for fine lines, while Bs are great for shading. I use Derwent pencils.

Eraserkneaded erasers are the best. They remove the pencil from the paper (without leaving a pink smudge). I use this eraser.

Spend time in this creative phase – weeks, months, it’s up to you. When you are ready to “kick” it up a notch read this.

 

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Click here to view my collection of watercolor and acrylic seascapes.

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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Creativity and Procrastination

Creativity and Procrastination
I’ve been frustrated this summer about not finishing my creative projects. I have a bunch of ideas I want to pursue but can’t seem to get anywhere. I knew that one problem was the fact that I had so many things that I was dabbling in. You can’t move very far forward if you keep changing paths. Also, I couldn’t blame time, I had the time, but I lacked the motivation to get to work.

On a recommendation, I downloaded the book “Eat That Frog!: 21 Great Ways to Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done in Less Time” and it immediately resonated with me.
Eat the frog - procrastination
Not only does the book address the things holding me back, but the author presents clear strategies to overcome this. Just reading a few pages motivated me!

Number one: I needed to define my primary goal, which is to continue revamping my online art shop. Once I identified this as the primary goal, and other projects as less important, I was motivated to attack the list of to do items (I already had). And once I accomplished one thing on the list, I was motivated to attack several other items – just as the quote above states.

Ironically this feeling, of being pulled in several directions and not finishing anything, isn’t new for me. In fact, when I started this blog (My Creative Resolution) it was my #1 problem. Having the blog, held me accountable – I felt I had to finish a project (or at least move forward) so I had something to post. And I was motivated to spend the first month or so pulling out old projects and finishing them. It was very cathartic, very satisfying, and very motivating.

I feel that way now, I’ve accomplished a lot with my online shop and am just waiting for new prints to come in. While I wait my mind is clearer to move onto the next priority – finishing my latest acrylic seascape painting. Prioritizing has helped me focus tremendously.

Click her for more info on “Eat that Frog!”

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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Twyla Tharp, “The Creative Habit,” and coming up with new ideas

Twyla Tharp, “The Creative Habit,” and coming up with new ideas #creativity
I had the pleasure this week of hearing Twyla Tharp, dancer and choreographer, and author of the famous book, “The Creative Habit” speak at Hofstra University. Her book, which I already read, is on many “best books on creativity” lists. I was thrilled to have the opportunity to hear her speak. She was no nonsense and honest, especially in her advice to the young dancers in the audience.

She began the talk, after introducing herself, by going through the book briefly and summarizing each chapter. Then she asked for questions from the audience, and while some were specific to dance, some were great questions that led to interesting answers – like “How do you know the difference between brainstorming and over thinking things?”

Twyla talked about the time she left NYC and went to a farm, where she and other dancers “worked.” No thought of celebrity or success, or social media (which didn’t exist at the time), but just focusing on dance. I appreciated this reminder that creativity is about putting in the work.

She said, “It takes work to have new ideas.” They don’t just hit you out of nowhere. You have to get going first. You have to be in the habit of “going.” She talked about the “rituals of preparation” and how important they are – whatever they are for you – to get you going. Once you have an idea, you move on from the ritual.

As a painter this all makes sense to me. The importance of sitting down every day to paint. Starting with anything to warm up and get going. I sometimes find the sitting down part is the hardest. Life is always trying to get in the way, even guilt that I should be doing something else. But this thought replaces the guilt, “I am a painter. I paint.”

Learn more about “The Creative Habit” by Twyla Tharp here.

This posts 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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Follow your Creative “Must”

Creative epiphany while reading "Crossroads of should and must"
There are things you have to do and things you should do. Sometimes I follow what I want to do. It’s never a mistake for my happiness to start the day by painting. It doesn’t have to be for very long, but it feels good and sets a great tone for the day. I have flexibility in my schedule and after I get the “have to’s” out of the way:

  • kids off to school
  • time sensitive work completed

I sometimes follow what I feel like doing:

  • painting
  • sketching
  • designing a print pattern
  • writing about creativity

These creative avenues bring me joy. If I don’t do them I literally get cranky. We have to give priority to these “wants” because there will always be “should’s” that come before them. In her book “The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion,” Author Elle Luna sums it up perfectly. A “must” is
“something that we feel compelled to do regardless of fame or fortune; the work is the reward.”

Learn more about “The Crossroads of Should and Must: Find and Follow Your Passion” here.

What are your creative musts? What are you called to do?

 

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!

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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Creative hopefulness and working through the ugly stage of watercolor

Creative hopefulness - the beginning of a watercolor paintingI’m was excited to sit and paint yesterday morning. It felt like a clean slate as I’d be starting a new set of paintings. I have plenty of new beach photos to choose from because last week I took a spontaneous detour to the beach where I took tons of photos and videos.

The first layers of a watercolor painting
It’s been a few weeks since I started a set of new watercolors and I was feeling very inspired – very hopeful. Sometimes because the first layers of a watercolor – for me – are the ugly stage, I lose that excitement. But I’ve learned to stick with paintings, work through the ugly stage. I’m committed to not giving up and seeing what I can do with them.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek! The perfect gift for beach lovers.


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The Feelings of a Beginner

The feelings of a beginner #creativity #painting I realized this weekend how discouraging it can be to be a beginner. I worked on two very different projects for me. One was a paper diorama. The other was painting two canvases with acrylics.

In both cases I was an unorganized mess. Materials all over. I had the wrong tools. I was literally uncomfortable. And in both cases, things weren’t turning out so great. Self doubt leaked in and I thought, “This is a waste of time.”

I realized this morning that all these feelings were related to being new to something. Thankfully, I had the perspective of the two very different projects. Otherwise I would have thought, “I’m not good at that.” When I looked over at my watercolor setup this morning, I saw all the things these past years have given me – routines, methods, techniques, the right tools, etc. These things make it easier to sit down and create comfortably and not let self doubt in (as much).

If I continue with acrylics or dioramas or any other new thing, over time things will get better and easier. If you are a beginner – don’t give up! Allow time to work out the kinks. Then you’ll have a comfortable “space” to freely create.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more here.

Have you visited my online shop? Prints of my seascapes are available on watercolor paper or canvas, in many sizes including the new “mini” canvas 11″ x 14″ at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek! The perfect gift for beach lovers.


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Painting – a schedule and a plan

Seascapes - first later | watercolor | painting | watercolor layers | ocean beach painting
All three of my kids leave for school early this year. I decided my new goal is to spend the extra hour in the morning painting. As soon as I set the goal I immediately questioned it. An hour? That’s a long time. Usually I work on paintings in short spurts, allow the watercolor to dry and come back to it later. How could I paint for an entire hour?

A plan began to form in my mind. For my early morning sketchbook work, I often use a pen. What if my hour of painting included sketching with paint? The no pressure exploratory work I enjoy in my sketchbook?

Now I’m excited about my painting hour. For one thing I have a scheduled time, which will help ensure it happens, and secondly I have a plan.

My morning painting plan:

  • Work from 7:30-8:30am
  • Listen to an artist podcast interview
  • Begin with sketchbook painting. Select two colors to paint with. Explore the shades of each and mixing of the two.
  • Move on to a painting or two.

Areas to explore during my painting sessions:

  • Color – get to know better the colors in my palette
  • Sketching with paint
  • Figure painting
  • Portraits
  • Ocean Painting

It wasn’t enough to declare this summer that I was going to focus on my creativity. I’ve learned I need to schedule the time and make a plan to make sure my goals are met.

Want a dose of creative inspiration? Sign up for my newsletter “My Creative Collection” by clicking here. Learn more about the newsletter here.

Prints of my watercolor beach paintings are now for sale at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!
The Blue Collection by Eileen McKenna | watercolor beach ocean landscapes available as limited edition giclee art prints


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Time, a Clear Head, and Creative Productivity

Creative productivity
I sometimes complain that I don’t have enough time. Summer break has started and the kids are at swim practice for only two hours each morning. That is a huge difference from the six hours they were at school. But I’m still feeling very productive in my work and creative projects. How is that possible?

I have more to do. When I have one straggling little project, I’m not motivated. For some reason when I have multiple projects going on it lights a fire under me. Just this morning I noticed that with each item I checked off my list, I was motivated to tackle the next item.

I’m not being pulled in a million directions. If things are busy in a few areas I can focus on them. Entertain the kids, do my work, take care of the household tasks/errands, work on my creative projects. A few weeks ago there were tons of end of year school things to prepare for and attend, etc. That made getting to the other stuff hard. Life is feeling simpler these days.

It’s the quality of the time not the quantity. I’ve had plenty of free afternoons where the most I accomplished is binge watching shows on netflix. If I have a clear mind I can be creative. Mornings are my best time. And being creative leads to more creativity.

Strike when the iron is hot. If I have any idea for a blog post or thoughts for the next issue of my newsletter, I try to embrace that and write it then. I’m most productive when I’m called to work on something than when I have to do something.

I’m more productive when time is limited. Give me an open week and I’ll struggle with when to do what. Give me a small window of time, like 2 hours when the kids are at swim, and I’ll hit the ground running.

I’m a list maker in all aspects of my life. When it comes to my creative projects, I have a general list I look at often, to make sure I’m working on all the areas I want to work on.

My Creative List

  • Fabric Prints – at least one new design a month
  • Enamel Pins – summer pin coming soon
  • Painting
  • Daily Sketchbook Work
  • Writing blog posts – at least 2x a week
  • Create newsletter – My Creative Collection – every other week

Marketing List

  • Continue exploring having art giclee prints made
  • Create a shopping cart to sell prints, etc.
  • Post on Instagram several times a week
  • Pin on Pinterest daily
  • Include affiliate links when it works with content

How do you stay productive?