I never made the time to pursue a hobby — a regular activity done for enjoyment during leisure time. Between working and social commitments and taking care of my home there didn’t seem to be much time left for knitting, crafting, sewing, or any other hands-on activity.
But about 10 years ago a friend suggested that instead of keeping a written travel journal on a trip to Paris and Italy, I keep a sketchbook and watercolor journal. That appealed to me and I contacted Katie Burke, a local watercolorist, who agreed to give me a few private lessons before the trip. I had not an inkling where that would lead, but turns out my friend’s simple suggestion set me off on quite a different journey.
Once I returned home, I connected with a group of watercolorists through the Kentucky Watercolor Society and found that I enjoyed taking classes and creating art with other people. Then came workshops in simple bookbinding, art journaling, collage, and even making tarot cards.
Having started with a single sketchbook, a pencil, and a small travel set of watercolor paints, attending the various classes and workshops has been a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that I have a body of work that I have created and can display. Crafting and painting has not only introduced me to others on their own artist’s path, but puts me in the zone where I lose track of time, and stokes my creativity.
The curse, as you might guess, is that I have many, many art supplies: tubes of paints, both watercolors and acrylics; palettes; brushes; piles of decorative papers; adhesives; collage elements and ephemera; and book binding materials. On and on. And then, of course, there is the money spent and storage solutions to sort all of those supplies.
All, in my opinion, worth it.
Along the way, I discovered YouTube. There are quite a few watercolorists, paper crafters, collage artists, and art journalists who are so generous in providing tutorials and suggestions and solutions for free.
All this to say that in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown I have had plenty of time to organize, play with, and experiment with my multitude of creative materials. I have fashioned greeting cards, journals, and other paper crafts based on tutorials I have watched online. I have filled handmade watercolor journals with washes and swatches and doodles and generally had a terrific time in my studio.
If you haven’t discovered your Creative Bliss — whether that be painting or pottery, crocheting or collage, stamping or stenciling — now might be a good time to get those artistic juices flowing. Art On!
Here are a few of the YouTube artists that I subscribe to:
• Shayda Campbell — clear instructions for painting simple watercolor flowers, leaves, and wreaths
• Creations CeeCee — fun watercolor and doodle projects
• Treasure Books — handmade journals and ephemera
• Jordan Clark — art journaling and other creative projects
Another source is Skillshare, an online learning community that offers classes and workshops on a variety of interests from design to photography to painting and all sorts of artistic pursuits. Some of the classes are offered for free or there is an annual subscription of $99 for access to others. Not a bad deal.
P.S. Here are 4 different suggestions on how to keep a journal.
BY LUCY M. PRITCHETT
PHOTO BY MELISSA DONALD