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.