I am excited to introduce you to The Painted Pen by Joanne Groff. Joanne is an artist living a Breaking Average Life, and her story is our December inspiration. Joanne is an amazingly talented artist who designs gorgeous watercolor cards, gift tags, and wrapping paper. She is bursting with Cards, Calligraphy, and Creativity; Oh My!
Meet the Artist
Joanne’s creativity inspires me; although I am not an experienced painter, I love learning new things and something about watercolors always draws me in. I follow the.PaintedPen on Instagram and love to see Joanne’s beautiful drawings and videos.
Her Etsy shop and her website joannegroff.com contain various cards, not just for the holidays but every occasion. You will find thank you cards, beautifully designed blank cards, stickers, and even a font available for purchase, all created and designed by Joanne.
The Drive to Create
The two of us spent some virtual time together, and I asked Joanne some behind the scenes questions. I love finding out how each creative finds their inspiration and how they build around that passion.
So I started asking questions. First, I was curious to know how Joanne became interested in art, and she responded, “I have been interested in art as long as I can remember, but there have been pockets of years that I didn’t do anything with that interest.”
“I started playing with calligraphy and lettering about 4 or 5 years ago and watercolors 3 or 4 years ago. I explored other ideas, and eventually, they all lost their appeal. Whereas art, calligraphy, and watercolor seemed to have unending possibilities for me. I always have more ideas than I have time to do them. It felt more sustainable for me when I consider blogging as part of the business.”
The Business Side of Things
Starting a business around, your passion is not an easy process. So I asked Joanne how she started her own website and business.
“Each of those separately comes with a lot of learning and trying and searching for answers. Starting a business or a website with a blog is definitely not an easy path. I’ve been working at it for a couple of years (with several exploring years before that … trying to decide the direction I wanted to take and yearning to work for myself), and I still have a lot to learn.”
Joanne continues, ” I won’t be surprised if I always feel that way. It’s also hard because I’m still small enough that I need to wear all of the “hats” myself. That means I spend much more time than money. Time trying to learn the back end and front end of a website, the legalities, and policies for a business, making connections, showing up on social media, creating content for the blog, connecting with clients, and actually making the artwork, among other things. “
With so many social media options out there, I was curious to know why Joanne chose Instagram as her main social media platform. “With artwork and design, Instagram just makes sense because it’s more image-based. In addition to that, I just don’t like the feel of Facebook. I think, overall, people are more supportive and kind on Instagram. I don’t have time to invest fully in all social media platforms, so I settled in to share on Instagram. My favorite platform is actually a search engine rather than social media.”
Joanne also talked about Pinterest. “I really enjoy Pinterest (maybe because it removes the pressure to constantly interact with people). I feel Pinterest allows people who come to search and save ideas without that social pressure too. We are bombarded these days. And I just like giving and finding new ideas.”
Striking a Work/ Life Balance
I, for one, know how difficult it can be to balance work and family life. Joanne has a husband and two school-aged children, so I asked her to share her insights on this topic and how she can create time for creativity and managing a business.
“Yes. Balance is super important to me. I don’t want to miss these years with my kids. I’ll only get them once. I try to work part-time hours at my business. Sometimes, more if I have an event or if everyone else is doing their own thing. But that means I accept slow growth as part of the process. That can be hard when I want it to grow faster.”
Creativity, the Life Blood of an Artist
Once released, creativity tends to grow, and more ideas flood your brain. Someone who is tapping into their creative side often has other artistic interests bubble up. So I asked Joanne what other hobbies she might have. “I’m pretty busy with art and family. My children have sports, and I try to be engaged and present with my family and home life. But I love to run to clear my head, read (fiction and non-fiction … communication, psychology, and business books) and cook (because I love to eat!). I just recently tried my hand at soap-making. But I don’t know if I call any of these hobbies. I have so many interests.
With so many beautiful drawings, I asked Joanne where she finds her inspiration. She replied, “That is a hard question. I’m inspired by a lot of things. My ideas seem to pop out of nowhere most of the time. But I am definitely influenced by seasons and nature. I am in awe of the beauty of nature … its colors, scents, feels, intricacy and complexity.
“Other times, I’ll have a feeling in mind and wrestle with it until it forms a picture. Then, I’ll wrestle with that until I can paint or draw that picture. A color can be inspiring … I might just play with color or several colors and see where they take me, having little to no conscious thought involved. Sometimes, it turns into something I love, and sometimes, I hate it.”
“I am inspired by other artists, too … they help me want to improve my art, to explore my style more, to keep challenging myself, and to try new things. Many times, I feel like I’m made for ideas and exploring new options. The challenge for me comes when I have to choose between them (usually for the sake of time or complexity), deciding which ideas to pour energy behind and which ideas to save for another day.”
It is important to have goals and dreams. I was curious to know what Joanne hoped to accomplish in the future. “I have a lot of ideas. First, I need to feel confident that I can make this work. There are two very different parts of my business: the tutorial blog and my artwork/stationery. At some point, I may need to decide which one I should focus on more. If I focus on the blog, I think about more workbooks, courses, and workshops. If I focus on the stationery, I will dive deeper into more cards, gift tags, and I’d love to develop more gift wrap and gift bag designs.”
“I also love working with businesses to create thank you notes or gifts for their clients. It feels great to help them connect with the people who keep their businesses running. So I’d like to do some more work with businesses, especially local businesses.”
Free Tutorial From The Painted Pen
The Painted Pen website offers a free watercolor tutorial to create beautiful Christmas tags. check it out here: DIY Christmas Tags or watch the video below!
Handwritten Holiday Greetings
I was recently listening to a local radio station while driving in my car, and the announcers were discussing Christmas cards. Due to the isolation the pandemic has created, the announcers encouraged listeners to share handwritten cards this year to connect to family and friends in a more personalized and meaningful way.
I fell in love with the idea of being able to bring a little bit of love and joy to someone during this sometimes depressing pandemic with such a simple act of kindness. How sweet would it be to receive a handwritten card in the mailbox this year, to know that someone took the time to write you a message of encouragement, well wishes, or blessing? I encourage you to purchase one of Joannes’s beautiful cards and send a Christmas love note to someone who might be extra lonely this holiday season. Click HERE to check out The Painted Pen Etsy Shop and purchase a card for that someone special.
What are some creative ways you plan to show love this holiday season during the 2020 pandemic? I would love to know! Share your ideas in the comment box below!
Want some more creative inspiration to live the life you dream about? Check out The Power of Your Imagination on Breaking Average Blog.