Primary School Time

One of the most helpful bits of info I’ve read regarding art came from Anyone Can Learn Watercolor Journaling by Jolyn Parker.  Now, I hate to be a nay-sayer, but I downloaded the book — it’s available through Kindle Unlimited — read it, and quickly gave up on learning watercolor journaling. But, hey, Ms. Parker, don’t feel too bad. Bobby Fischer wasn’t able to teach me chess, either. Maybe I’m just a bad learner. Or maybe I just don’t have a natural apptitute for chess or watercolor journaling. That doesn’t mean the books I’ve read haven’t been helpful, and as I mentioned at the start, one quote from Jolyn Parker has stuck in my head since I first read it in March 2016.

As adults we try to draw something and get frustrated because it looks like a six-year-old drew it, but that’s when we stopped practicing, so our skills never progressed.

There’s some truth to that, to be sure. In my case, however, even as I child I didn’t attempt drawing or painting. I colored a bit, but that was the extent of my artistic endeavors. Yes, I was that bad at it. So I never practiced drawing. Thus, when I began learning to draw at age 65, I had nothing to fall back on. I knew better than to have high expectations. I actually had no expectations whatsoever.

As for watercolor journaling — or art journaling, in general — I still struggle. It’s not so much about my drawing abilities now. I’ve learned a lot in the last 5-1/2 years, so that’s not what holds me back. It’s more about purpose than art, more about the why than the how, and all those questions have made it challenging for me to do art journaling.

If I have a tutorial to follow, that’s one thing. I can do the painting, the cutting, the pasting. With someone guiding me step by step, I can complete journal projects successfully. But going solo and trying to add pages on my own… well, that’s a very different story.

What I’ve learned is that it helps me to have a child-like attitude, to approach my art journal as if I were a six-year-old wanting to play with paints and have fun. I’ve found a lot of good “kid’s art instruction” sites with simple projects… simple enough for a six-year-old, and simple enough for a seventy-one year old great-grandmother, too.

My morning “fun project” took me right back to primary school — with a project that came from the Dalry Primary School in Edinburgh.

Here’s my version of “Winter Trees” along with a facing page I made by cutting out a wolf silhouette and pasting it down. Later I might look for an appropriate quote about winter, wolves, or howling at the moon.

I used white, teal, and black acrylics for painting and drew the tree with a felt-tip marker. I then grabbed my new silver Kuretake Clean Color Dot marker to create silver snowflakes. Oh, I love those new markers.

Doing these very simple journal pages made me feel good this morning. Sometimes I need to put myself back in primary school, so to speak, and create child-like art. Oh, I did a quick search and came up with the perfect quote for the page:

I have been known on occasion to howl at the moon.

Yes, it’s true. Sometimes I do howl at the moon, and sometimes I make simple, child-like art. No need to apologize for either, and for me that’s a really important lesson where art is concerned. I do my best, and we should never apologize for being who we are. Or for howling at the moon.




  1. Live your candid writing. I will take that on board too.
    I was a high school art teacher and find joy in colour and creativity. I find that the art that sells of mine is more contemporary. Sure I might be academically trained but I revel in bringing joy with art. Itching to read the book. Watercolour is so hard to conquer gave up years ago.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. Wow…good on you. I gave up on oils at art school. A bit of a messy left hander I ended up with more on my clothes than on the canvas.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Oh, I am really messy. I’m a lefty who got switched to right, and I’m always spilling things! I use water-soluble oils, and that helps a lot with clean-up. 🙂

        Liked by 2 people

      3. I lived with my grandfather — early 1950s — and he had read the theories of Cesar Lombroso postulating that left-handedness was a sign of a criminal mind. I was “sinister” — referring to the Latin word — and was not allowed to use my left hand for anything. He meant well, I know.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. Ooops commented outside the post. Didnt realise you got that tough gig.
        I always wondered when I was in primary school why the teacher would rap me over the knuckles every time she went past my desk.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. It was a “scientific” belief in the early 1900’s. My grandfather was a very well-read man who had a deep interest in science. He was quite the advocate of the left-hand means criminal school of thought.


      6. Think I have to research this a bit more. Maybe even read that book tou mentioned. I come from a family of predominantly left handers. Noone was ever in trouble from the law or dabbled in anything sinister. My brother is a Mensa and a brilliant mind.


    1. Yes, our “art education” in school — at every level — was lacking in most respects. We learned the primary colors, the idea of using odd numbers of objects in composing a drawing, and that some pencils were hard and some were soft. That was about the extent of it.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Really. So sad Judith.
    My granddad had his hand tied behind his back. When he left school he was ambidextrous. Glad the world has changed in that way. Don’t think people realise how tough it was.


    1. I’m glad times have changed. I ended up being such a clumsy kid. I’m more or less ambidextrous now, but typically use my left hand for most things other than writing. Sometimes I do paint with my left hand, especially when I’m doing watercolors. There’s a definite difference from one hand to the other.


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