Creativity is for Everyone!


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Finding creative inspiration during self quarantine

Finding creative inspiration during self quarantine

These days I can’t blame lack of time for a lack of painting. Being stuck at home, I’ve got nothing but time. What I am struggling with is what to paint. Sometimes it seems easier to go on my iPad than to figure out an idea.

Coincidentally my son asked me the other day, “Do you always know what you’re going to paint?” As I indicated, the answer is no, and it can be a real roadblock. When you are out and about, experiencing life, you are soaking up inspiration. Nowadays, not so much.

Here are some ways to find creative inspiration during self quarantine:

Go outside (in whatever way is safe for your situation). Walk around your neighborhood, or your yard, or sit by a window. The birds, trees, flowers, clouds, all provide inspiration. Absorb it, and take photos.

Look through your phone. What inspiration did you capture on your phone that you never drew or painted? Now you have time. I’ve made albums on my phone to separate inspiration photos.

Look online. If you have a subject in mind of course there are tons of photos online to choose from. There are also sites dedicated to providing reference photos for art. This post links to several sites with reference photos for drawing figures.

Technique. Perhaps there is a technique you admire others doing. Try it! Find reference photo appropriate to that technique and practice. I admire paintings with sun dappled water, so I found a photo and tried it.

Catalogs. I keep catalogs to use as reference. Athletic attire ones have great figures to practice from, and sometimes great scenery. Recently I painted a skier and mountains from an ad in a magazine. I also painted a woman doing a headstand. I love the Burpee plant and seed catalog, such beautiful flowers and vegetables to paint!

Look around your home. Walk slowly around your home and see if there are any interesting subjects or arrangements to paint. Try to look at your space with fresh eyes. Or paint or draw an ordinary scene like the couch with a lamp, but add interesting wallpaper to it. Reimagine your space.

Set up a still life. Create an interesting composition with things in your home. The refrigerator is a great source of interesting looking things. Cut some fruit in half.

Portraits. In self quarantine with loved ones? Make them the subject of your next project.

Color. Try a project where it’s less about what you are painting and more about the color palette you are using. You could even recreate a painting you’ve done before but with a different color palette. In my “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” program we explore painting using Monet’s winter palette. It is such an interesting exercise!

I’d love to hear how you’re staying inspired!

“Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” is a 4 week online program aimed at inspiring regular watercolor painting and learning through virtual immersion into the city of Paris! Learn more here.
Quarantine inspiration painting Monet’s winter palette in watercolor
Painting with Monet’s winter palette in the
“Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” 4 week online program. Learn more here.
Watercolor painting flowers self quarantine inspiration
Painting Marie Antoinette’s embroidered flowers in the “Let’s Paint Paris in Watercolor” 4 week online program. The program is aimed at inspiring regular watercolor painting and learning through virtual immersion into the city of Paris! Learn more here.


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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

Sign up for the newsletter here.


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The first newsletter issue is out!

My Creative Collection issue 1The first issue of my newsletter “My Creative Collection” went out today. Sign up here to get your copy! Above is a little peek at the intro. As you can see I have inspiring plans this month – that I’ll be sharing in a future issue.

😀 Eileen


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Starting Can be the Hardest Part

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I can write all about the benefits of creating every day, but there are some days where I’m busy, or sick, or just don’t feel like it.

So what to do then? If I really don’t have a second, or I am sick like last week, I put in extra time the next day. Usually I’ll squeeze in some time in the morning to “count” for the day before. When I just don’t feel like it, I try to push through and tell myself…

…just do a little. It doesn’t have to be a masterpiece. I don’t have to follow the same process like the previous days. Maybe instead of painting, I’ll just do a pencil sketch, or an ink sketch, or just add details to a painting I haven’t finish.

Anything is progress. Starting can be the hardest part and once I tackle that – my mindset often changes and I make a lot more progress than I thought I would.

Today was one of those days. When I finally had spare time to paint, I didn’t want to, but the last two days were busy and I hadn’t done much, so I forced myself to get to work. I looked through my reference photos and decided to sketch the lifeguard chair. I figured sketching it would be progress. I liked my sketch and decided to add watercolor. My attitude totally changed and I was so glad I pushed myself to start.


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2016 – My creative year in review

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As this year wraps up, what I’m most proud of is not a particular painting or illustration but that after some ups and downs, I’m finishing the year strong. I completed daily challenges in October (InkTober), November (World Watercolor Group’s food prompts), and December (my own Christmas countdown).

Oh and I’m also proud of my Nutcracker pin!

My plans for 2017

  • Beach book – more details on this later this week 😉
  • Another enamel pin – a leprechaun is in the works
  • A pattern a month. I designed a pattern a month in 2015 and it was a great motivator. I learned so much and want to continue to grow in the area of surface design. First up is to turn some of my Christmas countdown illustrations into new patterns.

What are your creative plans for 2017?


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I Recall Central Park in Fall

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Flipping through a magazine looking for something to draw, I came across a couple strolling with their dog. I drew them, added a tree, and had to pull out my watercolors and add some leaves.

That illustration reminded me of walking with my husband through Central Park in New York City. Having just watched “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” the lyrics “I recall Central Park in Fall” were in my head while I searched for an image of a couple in Central Park. I found a Getty Images photo to use as reference. It’s the lamppost that makes it Central Park.

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I’m always amazed how one idea or spark of inspiration can lead you down a path. Actually this was the topic of one of my early posts: The paths our art projects take us on:

“It’s funny, how a project can start us on a path. A path similar to the branches of a tree. The path may be fairly straight – projects similar to one another. Or the path may be twisty – each project taking a unique turn. The path can be long – each project sparking the idea for the next one. Or the path may be short – as we experiment with something that doesn’t work out or fails to inspire us any longer.
We follow a path until it ends. Until we have reached the end of that train of thought. At that point, we forge a new path, based on something different that inspires us. But each path we take, is related to the others, just like the branches of a tree.”


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A new painting on an old watercolor wash

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This morning I came across a couple of one color washes I painted a couple of years ago. The watercolor washes were backgrounds for a product photo shoot for a client’s Etsy page. I decided I would reuse the washes.
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I thought it would be interesting to use one as the background of a painting. I selected the yellow one and pulled up a photo on my phone that I had taken several weeks ago. At the time, I was out for a run and I was passing an old house surrounded by hedges. I thought it would be a good reference photo if I decided to do any haunted house paintings this year.
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I started by drawing in pen and ink on the yellow. Then I painted the hedges and the trees, and then some of the other areas. Lastly the details on the house. I decided not to turn the house into a haunted house because as it turns out, the house had a secret of it’s own. Not even a week after I took the photo, my husband said to me, “Did you hear about the house in town with the pigeons? They found 350 pigeons living inside the house. The house didn’t even have running water.” I knew right away it was the house I had taken the photo of.

I decided to paint the house the way I saw it. No extra spooky details. Just an old house hidden by overgrown hedges.


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The change of seasons and inspiration

imageIt’s a funny time of year. School has started so summer feels over. When I look around the house for something to draw, I see the shells we’ve collected. Every year I say I’ll continue creating in the beach theme after summer ends, but it loses its appeal. I get inspired by the changing leaves, and then the winter sky against bare trees, followed by the beautiful flowers of spring. I guess I’m a seasonal girl. 😀


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A Pop of Color

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I love a pop of color. I have a turquoise table in my family room, a bright green handbag. I’m certainly not a pioneer in this. Walking around the mall recently, I noticed color everywhere! It is Spring after all.

The other day, my friend Lisa took me to Charming Charlie, a store I’d never been too. Lisa had a feeling I’d love it. The store is organized by color. I walked in and said, “Oh, it’s beautiful!” I wished I’d taken pictures to show you. This link will give you a small taste of what the store looks like.

On their website, you can shop by color. Not in the – click on a shirt, now sort by color – way. But in the – show me everything you have in turquoise (shirts, necklaces, bags, etc.) – way. This page on their site looks like a painters palette!

Who would have thought that shopping could be so creatively inspiring?! I couldn’t wait to get home and pull out the watercolors.


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Time to Paint

gerberadaisiesp
It feels really good to have time to paint and draw after vacation (and the time before it – shopping, prepping, and packing). I spent time Sunday starting several paintings. For me, it’s the starting that’s hard, once I have a painting “in the works” it’s easy to pull it out and work on it (unless I let too much time pass).
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The three paintings were very different. You’d never guess I started them all at the same time, but they did have something in common. Before I started painting I turned to my Camera Roll on my phone for inspiration. All three were inspired by recent photos I took, or in one case, a photo I spotted on Instagram (that I took a screen capture of).
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The orange gerbera daisies (my favorite flowers) were outside of the supermarket. The rooster roams around outside of my son’s friend’s neighbor’s house. Who knew you could find a rooster this close to NYC? The vintage bicycle with the lilacs was posted on Instagram by Kathleen @fadedcharmliving.
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I’m trying to paint more. I had gotten away from it a bit. Not that long ago, I painted in this square size so frequently I put all the painting together and took a photo. My goal is to create another grouping of square paintings. I have a ways to go!
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