A New Year’s Resolution – Heading into Year 5!

A New Year’s Resolution - Heading into Year 5!
It’s hard for me to believe that 4 years ago – at the start of 2014 – I made a New Year’s Resolution to be creative. Before that I was creative off and on, often while taking a class, but never consistently. I wanted to be creative on a regular basis and find what interested me. I was open to any type of creativity, exploring was going to be part of the fun. I thought I might get into furniture refinishing.

Starting this blog, that I called “my creative resolution,” was to hold myself accountable – even if no one was reading. Although there have been ups and downs, and at times I even thought of stopping – this blog and regular creativity have brought tremendous joy to my life. I pushed myself to complete things, and achieve goals that I never would have without it. I’ve always found that the periods right after thinking about stopping, were hugely productive and creative.

That first year, I started with acrylics, but quickly went back to watercolors, realizing how much I love painting in watercolor. I love that you can’t fully control the results and have to go with the flow. Even though I’ve tried other mediums, watercolor is definitely my medium.

I started 2017 with the project of “painting the beach.” The beach has always been a special place to me – I grew up in a beach town, played there, worked there, and now live just 15 minutes away. As I started to have success with capturing the water, I felt I had found my thing. For most of the year I concentrated on painting the ocean and will continue this in 2018. You can see many of my ocean watercolors and purchase prints at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Take a peek!

As I begin the 5th year of my creative resolution – I’m excited and hopeful. I know that when you put in the time and work amazing things are possible! Happy New Year!

Want to see my tips on keeping a resolution? Read 9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s resolution.
9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's resolution #resolution #new #years

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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!

New Year, New Banner

I thought it would be appropriate to design a banner that better represented what I do. So, why not a sketch of my painting setup? I’ve kept my bear in there, on the can holding the brushes. If you are wondering what’s with the bear – read my about page.

The New Year, has given me a recharge. I’m more committed to being creative than I was at the start (of 2014). I’m excited to pursue all the different things I’m interested in (painting, illustration, surface design, animation). I’m trying to doodle in my sketchbook every day. I ask myself for only 5 minutes. Even on the busiest days, I can spare that right? It’s relaxing, and it allows me time to come up with ideas. I usually do it early in the morning, while I wait for the kids to get ready. It puts me in a creative mindset for the day. And because of that, I usually end up creating later in the day.

Hope your New Year is off to a creative start too!


Starting the year off right with a painting.

It felt so good, to set up yesterday – take my paints out, tape down the paper, fill the water – just go through the process. I’ve missed it. I’ve painted only sporadically during the holiday season. Setting up is kind of a calming.

I had no idea what I wanted to paint, I just knew I wanted to get back into it. Penguins popped into my head, and orange sunset skies. I looked online for some reference photos and found a great one tagged #penguinlove. I wish I could find the photographer of the inspiration photo. It’s so awesome, I can’t really take credit for the painting. I usually try to take my own reference photos, but there aren’t any penguins here in NY!

How’s your year starting out? Have you starting on your resolution? 🙂

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year's resolution #resolution #new #years
My 2014 resolution was to be more creative. I came across a note I wrote six months in, “just pull out the paints.” Now, four years later, I realize keeping a resolution isn’t that simple. I know my success has been much more specific than that. There are ups and downs to any resolution. There are times when you are into it, and times when you aren’t. Sometimes it’s hard to just “pull out the paints” (or eat a salad, or put on your running shoes, or stay away from sugar, etc.). Here are some of the strategies I’ve used to help me keep my creative resolution.

9 Tips to Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolution:

  1. Make a “positive” resolution. Your resolution should be about what you are going to do, not what you are not going to do. For example – Eat healthy vs. Stop eating junk.
  2. Research your resolution. Read books, magazines, blogs, or watch videos about your topic. Learning about your topic will motivate you, and help you on your journey.
  3. Tell people about your resolution. The more you tell others what you have resolved to do, the more you’ll feel committed to doing it, and it may help you connect with people with similar goals.
  4. Keep track of your progress. Keep a journal, or a blog about your journey, and include all your struggles and victories. Reread it from time to time to remind yourself how far you’ve come. The blogging community can be very supportive!
  5. Be realistic. Start small. If your resolution is running, you can’t expect to run 3 miles the first day out. And if you do, you’ll probably not want to run the next day! Start small, and build on it.
  6. Spend money. You’ll be more motivated and committed if you spend money. It’s the spending guilt! Buy new healthy snacks, new running sneakers, art supplies, or whatever items support your resolution.
  7. Schedule time. You can’t change your eating, or exercise, or paint, or meditate, if you don’t have time. Make your resolution a priority by scheduling time for it.
  8. Be specific. Although my resolution was to be more creative, on a weekly basis I write a list of specific goals and to do items within that resolution.
  9. Challenge yourself. Over time the same thing gets boring. After you achieve the first level of success, challenge yourself with new goals within your resolution – a new type of exercise, sign up for a race, register for a class, commit to making a new healthy recipe each week, or try another art form. Keep things interesting!

According to statisticbrain.com 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions. Only 9.2% felt they were successful in achieving their resolution. I hope my tips help you keep your resolution this year. 🙂

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 -

What the numbers really mean…to me.

212 posts published!

100+ pieces completed in the last 6 months!

300+ followers!

797 comments – your comments, encouraging me and motivating me!

578 days keeping my creative resolution

unmeasurable – the joy I feel living a creative life

I’ve been blogging for a year and a half and during that time creating art has became an integral part of my life. It brings me so much joy. I especially love how one idea leads to another and another and another. I love that the projects I work on are entirely self motivated. Prior to my creative resolution I was in an art class/group for several years. Even though we were given total freedom, I was ready to break free and see what I would create on my own. I feel such a sense of accomplishment looking over my work and seeing how many projects I have finished and that my style has emerged.

I remember when I first started posting and I couldn’t get a single person to like a post or comment! Now I am so lucky to have a community of friends who cheer me on. It means so much to me! It keeps me motivated. Thank you! 🙂

My Creative Resolution – a year in review.

As the first anniversary of My Creative Resolution approaches, I decided to look back and see what I worked on this year – what mediums I choose. It was surprising to me that during the first two months I painted with acrylics. I think it was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I even pulled out old unfinished canvases and finished them!

After two months, I was getting a little bored with my sketchbook and I pulled out my watercolors. Well, that changed everything! I started focusing more and more on watercolor. I had a history and some knowledge with watercolor. I added to that by watching videos and absorbing ideas and techniques from other artists online. I was having fun with it and was more and more liking my results. For too long I was working on crappy paper, but eventually I bought the right stuff!

Eight months in and I decided to paint cards for the swim coaches. To make the cards whimsical I added ink to the cards. When I draw in pencil, I tend to have a scratchy (lots of lines) style. In the past whenever I tried pen and ink I thought I had to draw one perfect deliberate line. (This stressed me out.) This time I scratched away (with the ink pen) and was happy with the results!

After that, I started adding ink to a lot of my watercolors. My favorite, surprising result, was when I took two outtakes and attacked them with a pen. I liked them better than the original painting!

For a long time I wanted to know what my style was – especially when I was trying to illustrate a children’s book. I scoured the internet for the answer – how do you develop/choose a style? Now I know that the answer is simple – time. Take the time to practice and try different things and your style will come out. The longer you work at it, the more it will evolve.

Even though I’ve almost reached the one year mark in My Creative Resolution, I have no intention of stopping! I am so happy with the results – the result of pushing myself to keep at it. I can’t wait to see where this journey will continue to take me, where I’ll be in six months or in another year. My original creative resolution was to draw, paint and create. I left open the possibility that I might be sanding and refinishing furniture, making signs, drawing or painting. BTW there are STILL a few pieces waiting in the garage to be refinished! Maybe in 2015?