Hello, fellow doodlewashers! I’m Tonya, and I live with my family of four on an island off the U.S. Atlantic coast (follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter!). I’m an avid sketcher and watercolor enthusiast, and I blog about my experiences at Scratchmade Journal. There has always been something about art that fascinates me. My grandmother painted with watercolors, and when I was a child, I was constantly intrigued by her work space. She noticed my curiosity and kindly let me splash around in her expensive paints.
For the next 40+ years, my watercolor experience never went any further than those few, childhood moments of experimentation. For too many years afterward, I always assumed that I was no artist and had no talent for drawing or painting. A little more than a year ago, I was writing in my daily journal and looked out the front window to the large pecan tree that grew in our yard at the time. It was winter, and I thought that the bare tree looked very majestic yet somewhat forlorn, and I had a huge urge to sketch it.
That sketch looked hideous, but I enjoyed the process immensely! From that point on, I constantly sketched whatever I saw outside my window or in my yard. As I focused on capturing nature within the pages of my journal, I started really seeing the amazing beauty and tiny miracles that were all around me. The blinders were off!
I suppose something of my grandmother rubbed off on me, because I began adding watercolor to my sketches. At first, I enjoyed the simplicity and ease of watercolor — the setup, cleanup, and portability — but I quickly fell in love with the flexible and unpredictable nature of this medium.
As I studied how to be a better sketcher and painter, I ran across well-known artists who also enjoyed field and nature sketching. Claire Walker Leslie, John Muir Laws, Cathy Johnson, and others have greatly inspired me and taught me much. Encouraged by these masters, I began experimenting with lettering and sketching materials, color mixing and shading, perspective and more.
I’ve been art journaling now for more than a year, but I still don’t think I’m a “natural born artist,” whatever that means. Or maybe I more accurately believe that we are all natural born artists, because I know that if I can sketch and paint, anyone can!
My own experiences have taught me that art is like any skill that gets better and better the more one practices it. I’m thrilled to rediscover art again, and every free moment I get, you’ll find me with a sketchbook in hand.
Though I draw constantly, I don’t own a lot of art materials. I sketch mainly with a pencil and a fine point fountain pen, and I try to keep my watercolor palette to a minimum. I prefer to sketch in the field but the weather isn’t always cooperative (and some things in nature move very fast!) so I also work from photos a lot.
I think what inspires me the most about nature sketching is that it is a constant discovery. Since nature is constantly changing, the world is different every time I walk outside. Plus, there is so much to learn and discover in nature that it’s certainly never boring!
My family and I are in the process of purchasing acreage in the Blue Ridge mountains, and we plan to make our permanent home there. I dream of sharing the love of nature observation, sketching, and journaling with others in the area, but for now you can connect with me at my blog and on social media.
Best wishes, and I hope to see you in the field!