Setting yourself up for Creative Success

I’m excited for Inktober, excited to get back to daily creativity. I’ve adjusted to my new work schedule and am ready to fit drawing and painting in. This is how I’m setting myself up for a successful October and how you can too!

Inktober check off calendar – Eileen McKenna

Organize your supplies. I’ve selected the tools I’ll be using for daily ink drawings – a sketchbook that isn’t great with watercolor but the smooth white pages are perfect for ink. I have enough pages left for all of October plus a few warmup pages. I even dated all the pages to make sure. And I have my favorite ink pen ready – a Uniball signo.

Find something or someone to hold you accountable. I printed a small calendar for daily checking off. I plan on posting my daily work on Instagram. When we feel we have to check in with someone or something (like social media) it helps keep us on track.

Schedule creative time. Pick the time of day you plan on creating. For me it’s early morning before work. It’s a nice relaxing way to start the day. If something gets in the way, I can always catchup later in the day.

“Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life"
Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life”

Make a plan. The more detailed your plan the better. I recommend in my book Creative Exploration that you start simple – pencil and paper. Each week after that you can try out different mediums. I’m participating in Inktober so I’ll be using an ink pen. When the mood strikes I’ll add watercolor. The benefit of some kind of plan is to prevent you from either not sitting down to create because you don’t know what to do or from sitting down and not having any direction. In Creative Exploration I recommend keeping a running list of subject ideas to refer to when you need it.

Find a creative space. Having a designated creative space makes a big difference. Years ago I took over our dining table and leave my supplies out. It makes sitting down to create so easy. No setup needed. Sometimes when I want to get back in the zone, I spend time organizing my supplies and space. By the time I’m done, I’m so ready to get to work!

Be kind to yourself. No one is perfect. Missing a day here or there isn’t the end of the world. Forgive yourself and pick up your pen or paints the next day. Don’t let one day turn into a week.

weekly creativity:

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Savoring Summer

Painting summer. Watercolor sketchbook.

I originally planned to write about looking towards fall, but after scrolling through my photos I was inspired to paint a seascape and sunset. Thankfully, even though we are away, I had my supplies with me and some time to sit and paint. I haven’t painted enough lately and it felt SO GOOD.

In NY the weather has been spectacular. Without the oppressive heat and humidity we’ve had some beautiful “top notch” beach days. And what’s more inspiring than standing in the surf watching the waves roll in?

Soon enough the blue, green and brown color palette will be replaced with red, orange and yellow. For now I’m holding on to summer a bit longer.

Summer inspiration – standing in the ocean watching the waves roll in.

Seascape Painting Lessons in pdf or video format

Watercolor seascape PDF tutorial
Watercolor seascape video lesson

September Routines and Creative Goals

My friend asked me the other day how it was going with creating every day in August. I looked at her blankly until she explained that I had written in my newsletter that I was going to create every day in August. Red faced I admitted that not only had I failed in that goal, I had also forgotten about it.

September Routines and Creative Goals

what I’ve learned while pursuing a “creative life”

  • Goals motivate us
  • Keep your goals realistic
  • Be kind to yourself when you don’t meet your goals

When we falter in our regular creative practices, we need to brush ourselves off, adjust our focus and expectations, and try again. September is the perfect time for this!

I’ve always loved September- it has the fresh start feeling of the new year. Life gets back to more of a routine, especially if you have kids. I always use September as a chance to reassess my goals, projects and routines.

This year I’m starting a brand new job so everything will change in terms of my schedule. Up until now my schedule has been very flexible. I mostly work from home and teach at a kids art studio several afternoons a week. With my new schedule I will really have to prioritize to get stuff done.

One painting or illustration a week

I’ve decided that painting every single day isn’t going to be realistic for me. My September goal is to create one painting or illustration a week. When possible I will sit and paint. I truly believe even 10-15 minutes of painting makes such a difference!

As usual, I’ll paint what is inspiring me. Maybe I’ll paint within a theme each week. I’m sure the upcoming fall season will play a role. At some point I’ll dive into all the photos I took this summer. These projects will take a few days to complete, so while I won’t be painting every day, I’ll be painting a few days a week.

Any illustration work will not count towards my weekly painting project. I have to have some rules for myself.

Sharing with you

I also want to keep up with my blog and newsletter. I’ve been sharing my creative journey on this blog for almost eight years! I love thinking and writing about creativity and painting and collecting interesting links. If you aren’t signed up for my newsletter – sign up here:

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When I first made “My Creative Resolution” – the blog was what held me accountable each week. I had to create and post finished pieces – otherwise I would be revealing myself as someone who lost motivation and didn’t finish things. That was in fact what I was, but the blog helped me change that.

If you are looking to introduce regular creativity into your life check out my book Creative Exploration. I turned my journey into a process for others to follow. Creativity has brought so much joy and opportunity into my life!

Learn more here!

August Creative Exploration

Watercolor sunset sketch by Eileen McKenna

I’ve been missing painting regularly, so I’m dedicating August to Creative Exploration! Won’t you join me? There are no rules, just some suggestions to inject new life into your creative practice.

August Creative Exploration Ideas:

  • New creative schedule. Create daily (or regularly). Even 15 minutes a day is great! 
  • New place. Paint in a new place or paint a new place. I’ll be in some new places so I’m excited about this one!
  • New medium. Try a new medium. I’ve been wanting to incorporate collage into my watercolor journal pages. (Note to self – pack a glue stick!)
  • New ideas. All of the above helps open you up to new ideas! Keep track of them (and prioritize them) with my ideas worksheet – available on Etsy.

Let me know if you are joining me!

Explore your creativity at https://eileenmckenna.com/shop/

Set yourself up for a creative 2021

The new year is thankfully here. Like many people, I’m trying to figure out how to be the best I can, in the new year. What systems help me and what bad habits hurt me when it comes to staying creative and working towards my goals?

Aiming for a daily illustration. This one is inspired by Flow Magazine’s book “Inspiring Women”

Daily dreaming and planning in my notebook. This helps me stay focused on what I want to work on. I dream, I plan, I look back and see what projects I may have forgotten about. I’ve been doing this almost every day since I started my blog 7 years ago, maybe longer.

Painting early in the day vs. attacking my to-do list. I’m more likely to paint if it’s one of the first things I do. If I start with work or other to-do list items I’m doomed for the day. I find it so hard to get back to a free creative mind after the other stuff.

A project. Whenever I have an ongoing project or theme that I’m working on, it is so much easier to motivate myself to sit and create. There is something driving me.

The weather. A bright sunny day and time spent outdoors help inspire me to create.

Regular creatively. Even if it’s just 10/15 minutes a day, regular creativity inspires more creativity. Although I made the resolution 7 years ago and started this blog to reinforces it, I still regularly have to recommit to creativity. It’s constant work – but so much reward!

 

Eileen McKenna watercolor artist

I’m Eileen, a watercolor artist. 13 years ago I didn’t draw or paint! A lack of confidence held me back for years. I now believe talent is just a starting point. Creativity is for everyone! It has brought so much joy and opportunity to my life. What are you waiting for? I’ve developed a process for you to follow! Get my book “Creative Exploration” and explore mediums and subjects to find your thing! Develop your own creative practice! Learn more here.

Creative exploration

A Creative New Year

Sketchbook

I’m always relieved when the busyness of the holidays is over. After Thanksgiving “the holidays” – a small thing on my to do list – grows with each passing day until it’s the main thing I’m working on. I become consumed with shopping, taking inventory of deliveries, decorating, wrapping, planning, baking, more shopping…

And then it’s over. The week that follows is usually a fairly quiet week of not much more that reading, tv watching, and eating leftover candy. I happily devour the creative magazines that filled my stocking. Magazines like flow and Mollie Makes. I read about other creatives and plan and dream about the New Year.

It was during this time, seven years ago, that I committed to regular creativity and started this blog – My Creative Resolution. Seven years ago! My kids don’t remember a time when a section of the table wasn’t filled with art supplies. They assume I’ve always drawn and painted. 

Starting a blog added a level of accountability that prevented me from putting my creative goals aside. Before the blog, there were several Christmases where I received a new sketchbook, vowed to work in it every day, but ultimately forgot about it. Creativity has brought so much joy to my life, and many unexpected opportunities! It is impossible to plan everything. You have to start your own journey to find out what twists and turns await you!

Not sure where to start?

I’ve created a process for you to follow, that walks you through trying things, while developing a regular practice of creativity. Fifteen minutes a day can be sufficient!

We start with the basics – no fancy supplies needed – and slowly work up to trying other mediums. Your interests are taken into account. After all, your exploratory journey should be based on you!

Ready to get started?
Download the “Creative Exploration” ebook or order a paperback copy on Amazon today. Click here for more information.

Your creative journey awaits!

Creative Exploration | How to be creative How to start an art practice

Start now by clicking here!

 

Creativity in Midlife

I’m on a podcast! “Women in the Middle” with Suzy Rosenstein, Episode #179 “Finding My Passion to Teach Creativity in Midlife with Eileen McKenna”

Our conversation covers:

  • Why it’s important to pay attention to your deepest desires.
  • How to look for clues about what you’ve always been passionate about.
  • Why exploration itself needs to become a skill you can get better at.
  • How paying attention to your inner voice can help you get unstuck and find your own voice in midlife.
  • How being uncomfortable can be a normal part of the process of your own personal development.

Inject calm into the holiday season with this 15 minute daily practice

Commit to creativity this December!

December can be a crazy month as we prepare for the holidays. I don’t even need to remind you that things are extra stressful this year. One of my favorite things to do in December is to create every single day.

Creativity is very important to me, but life always seems to want to pull me away from it. I should say I let life (and Netflix) pull me away. Because December is such a full month, I find it the most important time to recommit to creativity. I encourage you to the same. Just 15 minutes a day can be such a stress reliever!

For the last few years, I’ve created an illustration each day in December. This year I’m trying a new medium – block printing. I’ve gotten a head start – I organized my tools, watched a few YouTube videos, sketched a few ideas. I’ve even carved two small designs!

In the past my goal was to post a completed illustration each day. This year I simply want to work in the new medium for at least 15 minutes a day. I have to admit it’s hard to be a beginner! That first day carving my linoleum block felt so awkward. But I know from experience that a month of focusing on one thing can lead to real progress.

I hope you’ll join me in creating every day!

There are a lot of great kits to get you started with a new medium in this blog post.

Want weekly creative inspiration? -> Sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

 

Browse Ornaments & Cards in my Zazzle shop.

4 tips for professional looking invitations | Christmas holiday invites | Cookie Swap invitation

Exploring new creative things

I was sewing the other day. Trying to make a few new masks. Sewing is a new thing for me. I’ve tried it here and there over the years but waited so long in between that it always felt like starting over. Now that I’ve been doing it more regularly, I’m getting the hang of it. There isn’t as much of a struggle.

As I sewed I wondered what new things – art, craft, baking, etc. – I would carry on with after quarantine is over? Based on what I see online, lots of people are trying their hand at new things – baking bread, painting, etc. or getting back to things they used to enjoy – puzzles, game night, taking walks, etc. What will we take with us into the new normal of life?

The silver lining in self quarantine is that some of us have had this time to explore things we normally don’t have time to explore. A friend of my sister’s messaged me and said she hadn’t painted in decades, but wanted to try again and asked what paint and tutorials I recommended. Often it is hard to know where to start.

How do you know what medium to begin with? How do you find an art medium that speaks to you? I went through this myself when I started My Creative Resolution. Throughout the process of exploration painting in watercolor was what rose to the top. For you it may be something totally different. But how do you find your thing?

I’ve developed a process for you to follow, that walks you through trying things, while developing a regular practice of creativity. Fifteen minutes a day can be sufficient! We start with the basics, no fancy supplies needed, and slowly work up to trying other mediums. There is room for your interests here. After all, your exploratory journey should be based on you!

Ready to get started? Download the “Creative Exploration” ebook or order a paperback copy on Amazon today. Click here for more information. Your creative journey awaits!