Venezuelan hand-lettering and watercolor extraordinaire Sored Hall Quintero @prayercraftstudio discusses techniques, balancing family life and the role spirituality has played in her art in her interview for the latest Pentalic blog.
What inspired you to start hand-lettering and how did you learn how to do it?
Hand-lettering has always been part of my life. In my early years of school, I always felt fascinated by the way every person had their own way of drawing each letter. I always practiced and tried to draw my letters in a different and prettier way. It wasn’t until I needed to find a creative way to keep up with my Bible studies that I started writing Bible verses using modern calligraphy, which has become a popular movement on social media. I am a self-taught artist, but I also like to learn from other artists that have more experience than me. Learning from other calligraphers and practicing on my own has helped me gain confidence with my own lettering and has taken me to a different artistic level.
You tell us that you are originally from Venezuela, but have recently moved from New York City to Seattle with your husband and daughter. How have the changes in scenery shaped your art?
Changing sceneries in my life has helped shape me as a person more than my art itself. Usually, I have the challenge of balancing my life between creating art and my role as a mother and wife. It is not easy, but it is not impossible. My art gives me my own personal space where I can do something completely different, not only for me, but also for others. Moving to Seattle meant that I had to find that time balance I used to have living in New York City. Also, living in Seattle gives me new and different opportunities to learn from different artists based here. Walking around the city as a tourist, visiting museums and art galleries have helped nourish my creativity and inspiration.
Do you prefer painting en plein air or in a studio? Why?
I would love to be able to paint more outdoors than in my studio. But, due to the cold weather (that I still haven’t adapted to yet), I would rather stay indoors. When it is possible, because I have a toddler at home, I go to places where I can sit indoors and still have a nice view. I love coffee shops in the middle of the city where I can observe the surrounding colors, the reflection of the light on the buildings outside, and, most of all, the different changes of light throughout the day. At the moment, I have been sketching a lot at home, but usually from places I’ve taken pictures of. I desire to come back to those places when it’s warmer and sketch it again in person. During the summer, I plan as many outdoor sketching sessions as I can, and I usually love to join urban sketching groups. It’s a chance to share my passion and see the same things from different points of view.
What draws you to watercolor over other painting mediums?
Watercolor is a medium that could be very difficult to control. With a lot of practice, you can learn a lot of the essential traditional techniques needed to understand how to create. I love to see the different levels of transparency in watercolor. I love the way I can change a very simple drawing by adding layers and layers of different colors. The way the colors and shapes change, and how it dries, can result in something that looks completely different from when you started.
I would like to learn how to use gouache, acrylics, and markers so I can add them to my art portfolio in the future. I have personally worked with oils and I love them, but watercolors have more versatility; I am able to take my watercolors everywhere in my small bag with me. The versatility of watercolors is something that helps my creativity, without risking losing a moment from not having the right instruments with me. Sometimes, I only carry a very small palette of 9 colors in a 2×2 in mints container, a piece of paper, and a water brush. That’s more than enough to capture something fast in the moment.
Favorite Pentalic product and why?
I am completely in love with the Aqua Journal. It is always in my bag and ready for my next sketching adventure. The paper holds watercolor perfectly and the journal is very comfortable to paint in anywhere, even while standing. I have used a few different watercolor pads to sketch, some pads don’t have the best support, other pads have a nice cover you can use as support, but don’t have good watercolor paper. I love that the Aqua Journal allows you to have both nice supportive covers and good paper, with a very accessible price. Even if I only have time to do a pencil sketch, just having the pad with my pencil on the pencil holder is enough.
In addition to doing freelance work, you also teach workshops on hand-lettering and watercolor. What is the most common mistake you witness people making when starting out with watercolor and how do teach them out of it?
I have to say that I am honored to be able to teach what I have learned. I love sharing tips about techniques learned directly from many other artists.
People tend to forget that they are working with water. The magic is the ability to see the different colors throughout the water. There should be a balance between the amount of water you add to the pigment and what you want to achieve with your art. In order to create a beautiful sky, for example, we will never see an entire sky has the same blue color throughout in real life, especially in sunsets. Sometimes we see so many different colors combined, which can be recreated through art.
The main mistake I see is when people are hard on themselves when creating art and expecting it to be perfect on the very first attempt. It takes time and lots of practice in order to achieve a beautiful piece. The best way to start the learning journey successfully is to have the best art supplies available, practice as much as you can and to learn directly from professional watercolor artists.
What has been the most challenging part of your artistic journey and how do you overcome it?
Defining myself as an artist was really hard for me. I didn’t consider myself to be an artist because I didn’t “study” art as a profession and I haven’t been creating art continuously in my life. Being part of an artistic community helped me overcome those feelings of inadequacy. The more I hang out with other artists, the more I relate myself to them.
If an artist wanted to try hand-lettering. What is the first step they should take to learn it?
Take a workshop! It will be easier to learn from another artist, and you will get all the information you need in one class. In the class, the instructor can help you with the little mistakes you might find at the beginning of your hand-lettering journey. After the workshop, practice every day, minimum 30 minutes, to get the muscle memory you need to write better and even a little bit faster.
Any advice for artists wanting to do freelance work?
Do it! Don’t be afraid. You will never regret it. This is something I repeat to myself every day. Have a goal and think what those little steps are you have to take in order to get there and focus all of your energy on your daily steps.
What is the main message you want people to receive from your work?
I am from Venezuela and started working there as a business administrator. I had the pleasure to work for years for one of the most prestigious diplomatic offices, the Belgium Embassy, in two different countries. God gave me the ability and the knowledge to get to those places and took me out of those places for a reason.
I am who I am, and I do what I do, not only because I decided to learn and be committed to practice and create better art every day, but also because there was someone that put that passion in me so that I could reach others with my art. And that person, is my creator, my God. Thanks to him, I am here creating pieces of art that will inspire you with beautiful messages and reminders that He has a plan for all of us. I am blessed that I get to enjoy God’s plan for me through my art.
Facebook: Prayer Craft Studio
Youtube: Sored Hall Quintero