Artist Interview: Tonya Lee

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Artist Interview: Tonya Lee

Pentalic: You are a magnificent watercolor artist. How long have you been doing watercolor and what motivates you to create your lovely paintings?

Tonya: Thank you for that kind compliment! I started sketching and painting about 3 years ago, and I was immediately hooked. Since then, I’ve tried to do a little bit of art nearly every day.

Before I started painting, I never considered myself a creative person, but I believe that we all have a creative soul inside of us itching to express itself in some form or fashion. Art has been such an amazing creative release for me—one that I didn’t even know that I needed—and the process itself greatly motivates me. I get such a feeling of accomplishment from it, especially when I tackle a difficult subject or technique.

Pentalic: Not only are you an artist, but you are also an art instructor who holds workshops. Tell us about these workshops and how it has affected artists who have gone to them.

Tonya: I like to jokingly but truthfully tell people that I’m a longtime educator but a short time artist. I host a local nature sketching group along with the occasional artist workshop, but my main teaching platform is through my website at Scratchmade Journal.

I really consider myself more of an encourager than a teacher. Though I enjoy hosting classes and workshops, many people that I connect with don’t have the time or resources to attend. I love that my website can be an avenue of encouragement but also a way to share information and tutorials for free.

Nearly every day, I receive a positive response from someone who has learned something via my efforts. On the days when it feels as if everything I draw or paint is muck, the fact that my failures could help others is what often keeps me going!

Check out Tonya’s Events and Testimonials https://www.scratchmadejournal.com/events

Pentalic: What is your favorite Pentalic product?

Tonya: Hands down, the Pentalic Aqua Journal. It’s nearly impossible to find a decent watercolor sketchbook, but the Aqua Journal is exceptional and handles watercolor like a champ.

So far, my second favorite is the Recycled Drawing Book. Lately I’ve been doing quick sketches and studies in it and am amazed at how well this affordable little notebook handles a variety of mediums.

Pentalic: Are you a full-time artist? If so, what have you learned from being a full-time artist? What are the ups and downs of perusing art full time? Despite it all what keeps you going?

Tonya: I’m a full-time mother to two children, and though that comes first in my life, I also consider myself a full-time artist. Art is a passion that I pursue and teach full time. I work from home and though this means that I never get to leave my day job back at the office, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

I think that being a full-time artist is one of the greatest pleasures on earth, but like any job, it’s also taxing. I don’t get to take a day off because I’m not “feeling creative.” And there are a lot of logistics that go into pursuing art full time (marketing and selling; planning workshops and blog posts; website updates; etc) that aren’t fun and can be pure drudgery. But these things allow me to do what I love, and I’m thrilled to have the freedom to pursue it.

By the way, though I consider myself a full-time artist, I don’t consider myself a professional artist. Maybe in about 50 years…

Pentalic: What are your favorite projects you’ve gotten to work on so far?

Tonya: On a whim, I decide to study and sketch mushrooms during National Mushroom Month. I enjoyed this so much that it lead to the completion of a yearlong mycology nature journal. I’m still a huge mycology nut. Yep, I’m one of those nerds who do spore prints and smears on slides for microscopic studies!

I’m also an avid birder and enjoy keeping an ongoing illustrated birding journal. Coincidently, my current birding journal happens to be housed in a Pentalic Aqua Journal!
Tonya’s birding journal https://www.scratchmadejournal.com/blog/keeping-an-illustrated-bird-watching-journal

I see that a lot of your art is full of nature and animals, as well as you being out in nature. Does going out into the world help with your creative process? Tell us about your creative process and how you developed it.

Pentalic: I see that a lot of your art is full of nature and animals, as well as you being out in nature. Does going out into the world help with your creative process? Tell us about your creative process and how you developed it.

Tonya: Our magnificent and unpredictable natural world is the greatest inspiration for my art. Nature’s unique qualities and never-ending wonder constantly astound me, and though I can never hope to completely capture its qualities on paper, I greatly long to try.

Nature also allows me a quiet place to rest and recenter my heart and my thoughts. Whenever I feel like my creative batteries are running low, studying and spending time in nature always recharges me.

Follow Tonya on her Instagram @scratchmadejournal
Blog: scratchmadejournal.com