Stumbling Back Into an Old Passion

First of all, I think the word "passion" tends to be overused. There are millions of things a person can be passionate about: coaching, designing, reading, binge-watching Netflix, puppy cuddling... You see what I mean? Our hearts can love many things in life. But I kind of love having so many passions that bring joy to my life.

Besides watching Sherlock Holmes and napping with Guinness, this weekend I got back to an old passion of mine: art.

I have enjoyed creating things for as long as I can remember. Whether it was creating a book called "The Love Bugs" in kindergarten, drawing a floor plan for my Barbies in elementary school or drawing a still-life in high school, I enjoyed the process of making something.

In college, I got away from this. I did stay "crafty" for my classes and Schol Hall events, but making time to deliberately practice art did not happen. After I graduated, I started slowly buying art supplies in hopes that I would get back into it. To my credit, I have had a few projects that I have finished, but I still do not make it a consistent practice.

Fast forward to last week. Every year, the International Women's Club Zagreb hosts a Christmas Bazaar that features gifts and food from more than 70 countries. All proceeds are then donated to a local organization, usually to benefit less fortunate children. The US table is manned (or womanned, rather) by people from our embassy, and I offered to help. The woman who is organizing our table told me that last year the homemade gifts wrapped in homemade gift boxes were a huge hit, but we could round out the packaging with gift tags. I took this as an opportunity to help our table and force myself to re-explore my artistic side.

Last night, I finally sat down to work on my gift tags. I started by pouring over Pinterest for ideas and inspiration. There are so many beautiful things on there, guys. After like an hour of browsing, I started sketching. I do not have a calligraphy pen, but for years I have used a regular ink pen to get the calligraphy effect. After drawing the letters I go back and thicken the downstrokes. Not as beautiful as the professionals, but I thought it was still cute!

After I narrowed down my favorite front and back designs, I cut out a shape for the tags. I want the tags to look as clean as possible, so I traced the pattern on my watercolor paper. To be extra careful, I traced my designs in pencil first. This allowed me to space the words on the tags and redo any stray lines (and there were many).

Then, I traced over the pencil in ink. My absolute favorite pen is the Zebra Sarasa 0.7, for all things. That is what I used here. Once I finished the words, I drew the design. I did Christmas lights on some and simple stippling on others. Next I used my watercolor markers to color in the designs. Although I am still learning how to properly use watercolor, these markers are more like regular ones;  you can achieve this look with normal markers. I like a little messy look, so I didn't worry about coloring inside the lines.

Finally, I cut out the tags and punched holes in them. I still need to get twine, but they are pretty much done! Could you see these on your gifts this year?

After feeling accomplished with these, I realized there may be smaller gifts or wrapped gifts that would be better served with sticky gift labels. Luckily I am a bit of an office supply nerd, so I dug up some old mailing labels to create another design. Same process here: pencil, ink pen, watercolor. And I LOVED how these turned out, too.

We shall see if shoppers like my gift tags as much as I do, but just getting back into art was worth my time this weekend. It showed me that I need to make time for deliberate practice while I have the time on this overseas journey. I hope to share more projects with you soon!

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Love to all,


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