Artist Spotlight

Tanya Watson combines self-improvement and art with art journaling

Tanya loves all things crafty and creative. She has always been involved in some creative activity from sewing to furniture painting and now her all-time favorite, art journaling! For her, art journaling is the perfect medium for combining her passion for self-growth and making art.

What is art journaling to you?

For me, art journaling is the perfect way to combine my lifelong passion for self-improvement and making art. I love how I can use various art supplies and my favorite inspirational quotes to kind of create an inspirational letter to myself. I also love how I can look back at my journals and always feel encouraged and inspired. It’s fun to flip through my journals and think – ‘Wow, I made that!’ or have a good laugh at my failed attempts. For me, it’s been a fun, no-pressure way to express myself creatively.

What does community do for your art?

Community is everything! I like to think of myself as a creative cheerleader. I love seeing everyone’s work and seeing the progress of their creative journey. I genuinely get excited when I see work by other artists that I like and I’m not afraid to let them know. LOL I feel like there’s too much negativity in this world and social media can be a scary place to be vulnerable so I’m always so super thankful when someone likes or comments on my work and I’m also thankful that I’ve found the Get Messy community because everyone is always so encouraging – I feel like I’ve finally found my tribe!

How do you live a creative life? How do you incorporate journaling into that?

Right now art journaling is a big part of how I live creatively, but I’ve always found myself wanting to do things in a creative way from decorating my home with thrifted finds to planning my kids’ birthday parties which always had to have a theme of course! I’ve also been lucky enough to have a lot of creative jobs. I’ve worked as an event planner; a visual merchandiser; a theater wardrobe assistant custom furniture painter; to now part-time Paint and Sip Instructor.

What does your creative space look like? Where do you journal?

I am super lucky to have a dedicated studio space at home. It has built-in shelving and good natural light. I sit at an art table my husband got me for Christmas last year. I like to have all my supplies organized in cubbies behind my art table so I can reach behind me and easily find what I’m looking for. I keep a small desk organizer on my art table so I can keep whatever tools I’m currently using at my reach. I guess you can say I’m a little neurotic when it comes to organizing my supplies but nothing drives me crazier than to waste time looking for a tool when I’m in the zone.

What is your favourite art journal page that you’ve ever made and why?

It’s hard to pick just one because I have a few. But I have to say my favorite right now is a floral layout I recently did for GM Season of Heritage inspired by GM artist Sonal Nathwani. Who knew you could make flowers from dried-up peeled paint. It’s so different than how I normally work but I love it and it was really cool to see that I could make something like that!

What is your biggest barrier to creating? And how do you overcome that hurdle?

My biggest barrier to creating happens when I’m feeling overwhelmed by life and I feel like there’s no time to make art and it snowballs into me stressing over having nothing new to post on social media. I overcome this by reminding myself that my art practice is my own. I’m not here to make art for the approval of others. While I do enjoy sharing my work I have to remember that it’s ok if I need to take a break and give attention to other areas of my life – my art will still be there when I’m ready to come back to it. I’m not a fast worker so trying to work for just five or ten minutes never feels like enough for me!

Have you ever made something you don’t like? What did you do?

Yes! I’ve totally made something I didn’t like. Usually I either slap some gesso or paint over it or add a collage element. I’ve also made zines from pages I didn’t like and I always seem to love how they turn out!

Have you ever been through artist block? How did you return to your work?

For me artist block happens when I get in my head and I’ve probably been scrolling through social media too much. I start to fall into the comparison trap and feel like nothing I make will be good enough. To get through it, I take a break from scrolling and I just start making something. Usually making prints with my gelli plate is a great cure. Also, having prompts from the Get Messy seasons helps!

How has Get Messy impacted your creativity?

Get Messy has given me permission to be my crazy creative self. This community has given me the courage to share my work online and officially declare myself as an artist. They have helped me to recognize that artistic styles come in all varieties and there is no right way to make art!

✨ Free class for creatives ✨

In How to Start Art Journaling, we’ll walk you through the art of art journaling, including how to start doing (🙌) and make your very first art journal page (even if you’ve never even opened an art journal before).

What journal do you use?

Depends on the project – sometimes hand made – sometimes store-bought – sometimes a repurposed book

What is your one *must have* supply?

This is a tough one – I’m not sure I can narrow it down to one but I would say my gelli plate and some gold metallic paint!

What do you make when you don’t know what to make?

When I’m feeling stuck I will either make some collage fodder with my gelli pate or I’ll look up a tutorial I’ve been meaning to try. That’s one of the reasons I was initially drawn to Get Messy – I knew I loved art journaling but didn’t know where to start and this site has so many awesome tutorials – I always find myself looking here for inspiration!

What is the most important (non-tool) thing to your creative practice?

I would say having a studio ritual. I think it’s important to set your mind right before you begin creating. I like to shuffle through my handmade inspiration deck and pull a few for encouragement or meditate by staring at my vision board collage in my studio; light some candles or burn some incense and put on my chill or inspirational playlists on Spotify. Now I’d be lying if I said I do this every time I enter my studio but if I can get this in at least once a week it makes my time in the studio feel special. In reality, most days it’s a cup of coffee, some water, and some good tunes. The last thing to my ritual which I try never to ignore is to tidy up my space before I leave so I don’t feel overwhelmed by clutter when I return.

Who are your favourite Messy artists?

That is a good question! There are so many! I love my fellow Messians, Shemi Dixon and Suzanne Earley. I feel like Shemi and I have very similar creative styles in that we both work messy and love to include inspirational quotes. I love Suzanne’s graphic style of text on the page. She also seems to have lots of varied creative interests outside of art journaling like I do and I love how she always seems to be challenging herself creatively which is what I love to do too.

I also love, Kristi Nazzaro aka @soul_positive; Janell aka @dancingmooney and another Messian Wendy Solganik aka @willa.wanders – I love the way they incorporate inspirational messages in their work and they each have such a unique and magical style.

What’s the best art advice you’ve ever received?

The best art advice I’ve ever received was ‘you’re not making art for yourself’. I know that may sound counterintuitive – of course, my art practice is just for me but we are also our own worst critics and we can end up hiding our talents because we think our work is not good enough or no one will like it – not realizing that what you make may inspire someone else to begin their own creative journey. Ironically, I’ve found that the work I like the least is what gets the most attention the work I’m most excited about gets crickets…go figure!

Advice to new art journalers:

Just start with what you have on hand! You don’t need a lot of supplies to art journal and if you’re not sure where start, then join a creative group like Get Messy! The art journaling community is one of the most encouraging and supportive group of lovely souls I’ve ever come across so don’t be afraid to get involved!

Tanya Watson

Tanya loves all things crafty and creative. She has always been involved in some creative activity from sewing to furniture painting and now her all-time favorite, art journaling! For her, art journaling is the perfect medium for combining her passion for self-growth and making art.

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