Eileen McKenna Art & Design

Watercolor Art | Creative Inspiration to help you be creative on a regular basis


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Creative Plans for 2020 – It’s My 6 Year Blog Anniversary!

Creative Plans for 2020 - It's My 6 Year Blog Anniversary!
I am definitely someone who has to keep their creative ideas reined in. I learned during the second year of My Creative Resolution, that trying new things is fun, but learning and progress with new mediums takes time and dedication. If you scatter your time and energy across many different things, you don’t significantly progress in any one area. Growth takes focus.

At the time I tried block printing and thought, “This is cool. This is harder than I thought.” and “It would take time to get better at this.” After a year of trying things in 2015, I decided to focus on watercolor.

As I think about next year. The first thing that happens is I get excited about the idea of “shiny new things.” Then I pause and remember the lesson I learned and really think, “What do I want to focus on in 2020?”

There are two sides to my creative life – me as a creative pursuing what interests me and me growing a creative business. It’s important for me to make the distinction otherwise my list for 2020 will be all business ideas.

Creative business ideas:

Creative ideas:

  • Daily morning work is an important part of my art practice. Keeps me calm and creative. I enjoy it! I paint whatever strikes me that morning. It’s a no pressure time.
  • Seascapes – I am still drawn to the ocean. I never tire of visiting, photographing, and painting the ocean.

My creative ideas seem almost boring because I’m just continuing with more of the same, but as much as a new idea would be “shiny and new” I can’t think of one that would top my interest in the above.

When I write the words that describe me and what I’m interested in it’s, “inspire creativity, teach, paint in watercolor, and the beach.” This just confirms I have the right goals in mind for 2020. I’m sticking to the path I’ve been on.

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 -


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Take control of where you are headed in the new year and reach your goals!

Take control of where you are headed in the new year and reach your goals!
Sometimes we coast through our days, time passes, and we find ourselves no closer to reaching our goals. This year be intentional, set a goal for the year, and focus on that one thing. Set yourself up for success by creating a plan.

Write it down! What is your goal for the year? Be specific!

What steps are necessary to achieve this goal? If needed, do research to help you answer this question.

Schedule time to work towards your goal. Even a small amount of time adds up. When will you work towards your goal?

Invest in your goal – buy running gear, art supplies, a camera, or whatever thing supports your goal. Making an investment will motivate you to stick with your plan. What item will spark excitement and help you reach your goal?

Check in with yourself regularly about your progress and what you are learning. I write daily in my notebook about my creative projects. This helps keep me focused and on track. When will you touch base with yourself on your progress?

Hold yourself accountable. Ideas include asking a friend to be your accountability partner, and posting about your goal and progress online. How will you hold yourself accountable?

Celebrate milestones. A goal can be a huge daunting thing. Breaking into down into manageable tasks makes it more approachable. Celebrating milestones in your journey to continue to propel yourself forward towards the bigger goal. “Celebrating” can be an actual activity, a purchase, or simply the act of recognizing the completion of a task. What milestones could you celebrate? How will you celebrate?

Challenge yourself. Over time the same thing can get boring. When you start feeling bored, challenge yourself with new things within your goal – a new type of exercise, a race, a class, a daily or weekly commitment like a drawing a day or making a new recipe each week. Keep things interesting!

Expect ups and downs but commit to sticking with your goal. It’s normal to be initially excited and motivated about your goal. But over time, the daily work towards a goal can be less exciting. Expect that you will lose enthusiasm at times. During these period keep the bigger goal in mind. Imagine how good it will feel to arrive at that place! Keep going, don’t give up! Forgive yourself when you have an “off” week and recommitment for the next week. Make a commitment to yourself!

I‘ve created a Goal Worksheet to help you create a successful plan! Download it in my Etsy shop here.

Need help gaining focus with your ideas? Try 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

Want to be creative on a regular basis and experience the joy that creativity brings? Explore mediums and subjects, in search of your thing? Learn about my new book Creative Exploration: A Six Week Process for Introducing Regular Creativity into your Life by clicking here. Creativity is for EVERYONE! Talent is just a starting point.

Creative Exploration book -

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 Plans for 2018

Words for 2018 #creative #goals
I’m an ambitious list maker. And if I achieve things on my list, I add more things. When I started writing down what I wanted to accomplish in 2018, the list was getting out of control. I don’t want to set myself up for failure – with a list too long to possibly achieve. I thought about Crystal Moody of A Year of Creative Habits. Crystal picks one word to be the focus of the year.

Okay so maybe I can’t pick just one word, but I like how simplifying things to a few words can guide your year, while still allowing for things to evolve.

For 2018 I’ve selected the words Paint, Teach, Share, and Connect.

Paint. It sounds so simple, but I like to remind myself that creating is the reason for blogging, posting, pinning, etc. Painting is the core of it all. I’m continuing the theme from last year of Painting the Ocean in watercolor.

Teach. I really enjoy writing about creativity and specifically enjoy writing posts that share details on painting. I’d like to continue with these types of posts, as well as start creating videos. It’s so easy to learn by seeing someone do something. I’m also toying around with the idea of doing an in person workshop. 😬

Share. This past year I made my work available in a few ways. I started selling prints of my ocean watercolors online at shop.eileenmckenna.com. Through Zazzle, my artwork is available on cards, mugs, and ornaments. I’ve added to my designs that are available as fabric, gift wrap, and wallpaper through Spoonflower. As much as I enjoy creating, artwork stacks up in a drawer. It’s exciting to put it out into the world and fulfilling when others enjoy it.

Connect. This year I connected with Mary of the Daily Sew. Mary created an awesome drawstring bag, and a free downloadable pattern, using my Swimming Laps fabric. I also connected in person with Erin Andrews, the Interior Designer behind Indigo House Interiors. Read her post “A Coastal Inspired Holiday.” I’m very excited to have someone local that I can meet for coffee and talk about creative projects, business, and blogging! I hope to continue connecting with other creatives in the new year.

These words for 2018 – Paint, Teach, Share, Connect – offer goals, but also flexibility. Here’s to a creative new year!

Read my 2017 year in review here.

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!


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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

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!


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First posts and first creative goals

Sketchbook

Inspired by other bloggers I’m revisiting my earliest posts.

My first post 12/30/13: Happy New Year!

“This year I’m taking my New Year’s resolution to a new level. I’m holding myself accountable, by making a commitment to blog about my progress. In the past I’ve been great in the ideas department, not as good in the follow through! But this time, I hope to draw, paint and create my way through 2014! Join me on the journey so you can witness the successes (and failures) and maybe we’ll both learn a thing or two on the way!”

My second post and a goal: Filling the Sketchbook
Sketchbook

“I plan on filling this sketch book. Although it is a bit daunting! I like saving all my old sketchbooks and looking through them. I even keep drawings that I am embarrassed by. They show me how far I’ve come. I look at old sketches with a fresh perspective and know what is “off.” Sometimes I look at a sketch and proudly think, “I did that?” As I thumb through, I am reminded of projects I was interested in. I can add some of those  to my list for the coming year.”

Present day…
Working in that sketchbook became an important part of my weekly creative practice, and it was a turning point when I started painting in it. I remembered how much I love watercolor! Unfortunately the paper in this sketchbook wasn’t made for adding paint. So when I found the Canson Mix Media sketchbook – that I still use today – I was thrilled. Love the thick bright white pages! In three years I’ve filled at least 8 sketchbooks! Goal reached, and then some!

Did you read:
Does Your Astrological Sign Affect Your Creativity?

This post contains affiliate links to products 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 Habits

scissors

Early last year, I was struggling to get back into a creative routine. I spent a lot of time thinking I should draw or paint, but for some reason I couldn’t motivate myself to pull out my art supplies and get going. I knew starting was the hardest part, but still I couldn’t do it. By chance I started reading Gretchen Rubin’s book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits – to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life.” Within a few pages, I had the answer to my problem. I had fallen out of the habit of being creative. It was harder for me to do it, because I had to make the conscious decision to do it. It was an internal willpower battle every time and was no longer a habit – something I did without thinking.

Rubin perfectly states it here,

“When we change our habits, we change our lives. We can use decision making to choose the habits we want to form, we can use willpower to get the habit started; then – and this is the best part – we can allow the extraordinary power of habit to take over. We take our hands off the wheel of decision, our foot off the gas of willpower, and rely on the cruise control of habits.”

This was an “aha” moment for me. I immediately took action, following Rubin’s advice to try to make creativity a habit again. I highly recommend you read this book!

This post contains affiliate links.


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The power of creative prompts

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Happy New Year! I took the last few days “off” from my daily drawing and painting, but I’m gearing up to spend every day in January painting the beach.

I did spend a day or two getting a head start on this project. But there were more days where I thought about getting started but – without actually approaching the paints and paper – I didn’t know where to begin and quickly lost all motivation. Last month Marion who joined me in the Christmas countdown wrote – about following my prompts -that she liked not having to think about what to draw.

This really stuck with me and as I looked over the last two months, first following World Watercolor Group’s food prompts and then my own Christmas prompts, I realized how right Marion was. It makes it so much easier to not have to think about what to paint. Instead I would immediately jump to how I would interpret that prompt. Often I’d check the prompt the night before and have a plan when I started in the morning.

This week I struggled with motivating myself because even though I knew I wanted to paint the beach, I wasn’t sure how to get started. The “beach” is too broad. To overcome this stumbling block I wrote myself a prompt list for every day in January.

Focusing on painting the beach is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time. For some reason I haven’t been able to do it beyond a painting here or there. When I saw how much I accomplished in November and December by following one theme each month I knew committing myself this month was part of the solution. That and telling YOU. Just like 3 years ago when I started this blog and told you I’m going to be creative on a regular basis. You hold me accountable and help me reach my goals. So thank you. 😊

What are your creative plans for the new year?


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2016 – My creative year in review

img_0878

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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New Year, New Banner

2016banner
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!

 


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Starting the year off right with a painting.

penguins
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!
penguin

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