Friday, October 23, 2020

Freeform Friday: The Art for Joy's Sake Journal PLUS Watercolor Cards - Kristy Rice

Not long ago, I reviewed a book on how to watercolor and sort of caught 'the bug.'  Not a super-talented bug, mind you; I'm new to the medium. More of a curious, I'd-like-to-learn-more bug. So, when The Art for Joy's Sake Journal and a set of watercolor cards came my way, I was excited to test my newly acquired skills.  The experience of using them was super cool and perfect for Freeform Friday!  

First, The Art forJoy's Sake journal...


Summary: These beautiful pages invite you to pick up your brush and grow.  Kristy Rice's joy-focused approach to watercolor art has won the hearts of fans worldwide, and with this journal Rice offers ways for all levels of painters to make "art for joy's sake" and simultaneously paint a personal keepsake or add beauty to your inspiration wall.  

[The Art for Joy's Sake Journal] includes 9 illustrations ready to be water-colored on thick, textured paper, along-side full color, frameable reproductions of the same works painted by Kristy herself, demonstrating palette choices and brushwork.

Enrich your art with "prompt" ideas to inspire your painting's growth; pages with no-stress exercises for techniques; inspirational artwork and quotations; and even a few recipes for nourishing your body along with your spirit!  (Summary from back of book - Images from amazon.com and kristyrice.com - Journal given to me for free in exchange for an honest review)

My Review:  Have you ever found something that you truly loved - a hobby, a talent, or a side-gig - and then worked it so hard that the joy leaches out and you can't remember the reason you started doing it in the first place?  Me. Too.  The Art for Joy's Sake Journal asserts that the act of creation, and art in particular, can and should be a joyful experience.  Now, if you're reading this review and thinking, That's nice and all, but I don't DO journals, guess what?  I don't either and I still had a blast with this book. Perhaps, that is because it isn't a journal in the traditional sense of the word.  

The Art for Joy's Sake Journal has a few journaling prompts with space to write (or paint) your thoughts, but it is also filled with beautiful watercolors, painting tips, inspirational ideas, creative exercises, delicious recipes, reading recommendations, paintable designs, and so much more.  It is also next level gorgeous with a vibrant cover, thick, gilt-edged watercolor pages, a ribbon bookmark, and a stretch band to keep it all together.  I don't know how someone could look at it and not feel a spark of joy.  It 

For the purpose of this review, I decided to embrace to the experience and really dig in.  I read all the tips, stories, and quotes, journaled a bit (about my consuming fear of getting things 'wrong'), painted several of the ready-to-watercolor designs, completed some of the creative exercises, and even made the recipes! The author suggests pairing her recipes with a couple of friends for a painting party, but since we are deep in the heart of COVID right now I opted for a party of one. ME. I cooked, painted, devoured, and didn't have to share a single bite. It was pretty great.

Some might pick up this journal to reawaken their love of watercolors, to get lost in the art, or simply reconnect with their creativity and it would probably do all of those things.  For me, it was an exercise in letting go of my obsessive need to control every outcome.  It encouraged me to try new things, change my perspective, and embrace the unexpected.  In that regard, I found the creative exercises to be incredibly helpful in expanding my creative repertoire.  

One of the first exercises I did was about getting past the fear of taking the first step. It encouraged me to splatter random colors all over a blank page.  I am not a person who loves mess and unpredictability, so even this was a stretch, but I did it.  I even added a little message to my page: Make a mess.  It's okay.  And I think it's kind of perfect.  That exercise inspired me to go a little off book and do something that was (for me) pretty wild. Instead of painting the way I would normally paint (trying to mirror the artists style and color choice, I painted one of the ready-to-watercolor designs in all the 'wrong' colors.  GASP! I know, right?!  There were brown and blue flowers, plaid plants, violet tomatoes, and hot pink leaves everywhere.  The Mona Lisa it was not, but it was my own little breakthrough and it felt unbelievably liberating.  I also did another exercise that encouraged you to cover a page with circles and fill them with vibrant watercolors.  It was amazing how even though I have a fairly limited selection of colors, each circle manage blend in its own unique way.
 

The Art for Joy's Sake Journal contains several of the author's own watercolors that serve as both an example and inspiration for your own works.  With each piece the author talks about what types of watercolor she used (all sorts) and gives palette suggestions and tips to get motivated.  I was especially impressed by the page she did with Crayola watercolors.  That's right!  CRAYOLA!  Of course, I had to try it too and I was pleasantly surprised with the results (see below left).  It was nice to see that you don't always have to drop a ton of money to create beautiful art. 
 

I haven't finished all watercolors and exercises yet but, to be honest, I want to savor the rest of the experience, without forcing the moments to meet a review deadline. However, I would like to share a quote/tip from the book that really hit home for me:
You will get paint on your  hands.  Be okay with paint on your hands.  Own the mess; you can wash your hands later. It's difficult to make something fabulous if you're always worried about making a mess.  - Kristi Rice
Ultimately, The Art for Joy's Sake Journal is the artistic equivalent of learning find your why again.  The more I explored, stretched myself, and experienced all that this journal has to offer, the more I loved it.  If you're looking for a gift for the artist in your life, this one's a lock.  I would recommend it to anyone who needs a safe, creative space, artistic encouragement, or simply something fun to do in quarantine.  

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the Sensitive Reader:  Control freaks might balk at this carefree approach to artwork but (trust me, I am one) it it will do them good.  

.... AND NOW FOR THE WATERCOLOR CARDS!

Summary: These beautiful cards invite you to pick up your brush and release your own creativity and imagination.  Printed on high-quality, textured art paper, the flat cards with envelopes feature 12 different images form the Painterly Days and Cutting Garden watercoloring books and are easily frameable.  (Summary from back of box - Image from barnesandnoble.com - Cards given to me for free in exchange for an honest review)

 My Review:  I like to create things, but don't often find (or make) the time in my life to embrace that creativity. I enjoyed the opportunity to practice some of what I had previously learned about watercolor while painting Kathy Rice's watercolor cards.  

With thick paper and a variety of beautiful  designs, the cards are quite stunning and would make a wonderful gift for an artistically-minded friend, or for your own personal use.  Each card has a black-and-white paintable floral design that covers the back of the card and the margins of the front, with space left for a personal message. They were designed primarily for watercolor, but I imagine they could be colored with pencils, markers, or some other medium, if the artist were so inclined.


Though I am by no means a professional, I think I did passably well for someone with relatively limited experience in watercolors.  I do think I used a bit too much water sometimes, which caused the cards to warp slightly, but I chalk that up to my inexperience rather than a flaw in the cards.

Each card took several sit-down sessions for me to complete (because kids...and drying allowances) so these will be most definitely be reserved for special people and occasions. I am excited to paint and give away more of these cards as the opportunities arise. 

My Rating:  4 Stars

For the Sensitive...Painter?: All clear.

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