Kendra C. Scott is a Pennsylvania-born, Tennessee-raised stay-at-home Mom turned artist who lives with her family in Chester County, Pennsylvania. She does a lot of cooking, laundry, housekeeping and sports taxicab service, and dabbles in direct sales of children’s books because kids NEED books and she like to keep them flowing to the littles in her life circle.
When I first met Kendra in the early aughts it was as co-workers in a natural foods co-op where neither of us did anything remotely related to writing or art. I knew her as a funny lady with a sweet southern accent who carried more burdens then you would guess, with a smile; but I never knew she could paint!
Although our physical paths diverged, through social media I’ve had the opportunity to witness Kendra’s discovery and growth as an artist. I’m particularly inspired by her art journals, which take the traditional idea of private journalling into new dimensions by incorporating “intuitive” painting and art and the creative upcycling of paper and mixed media. Kendra shares her process and product in social media spaces like Facebook and Instagram, and lately set to music on Tik Tok as artsyontheblock.
I’ve often hinted to Kendra that she should submit some artwork for Riddled with Arrows, but I could tell she had doubts. It’s no small thing to take that leap from making art for yourself to sending it out for others to judge, maybe reject. But we love fresh blood here at Riddled, and after five years of fielding images to represent not just writing and poetry but complicated theme-concepts and the idea of “meta”, I’m not shy about what I like— so I dragged Kendra into our Spotlight.
We asked Kendra to reflect on the ways her art has evolved over the last couple of decades, particularly in terms of motivation, process, and product.
Kendra says: For the entirety of my life I had felt as if I might spontaneously combust, but I didn’t have a clue as to the why until I was given a set of watercolor “artist” pencils, not long after I was diagnosed with arthritis in 2015.
I had no idea what to do with them, so I googled and found a magic doorway. I will never regret taking that first step. The journey has been soul-cleansing and combustion-squashing.
I used to like to doodle when I was bored. Now I create watercolor paintings and mixed media projects, and I hand-bind my own art journals. I see the world around me built of colors and shapes. I paint and create because I am compelled to do so, and I cannot imagine a life without doing it.
I first found art journaling by accident when a watercolor tutorial I was watching on Youtube skipped to a video about making journals. I was instantly hooked. I made my first page shortly after and haven’t stopped since.
Many of my works came about while I was in agonizing pain. I had two hip replacements last year, and in the lead-up to those surgeries I had to miss out on much of life outside my home, so I filled the days with art journals. There was no other escape for me. I drew from despair, which fueled many creative days. It saved my sanity and soul a thousand times over. It was worth it all to see my work out in the world and to have discovered that I am, indeed, an artist.
There are many ways to create art journals. A page can take anywhere between five minutes to more than a year. It can be as simple as messy asemic writing with marks, shapes, or doodles, and a stenciled title, or as complex as layered paint and collage with vivid, contrasting colors and scrumptious textures made from different kinds of adhesives, ink, and paper.
At first, I collected every odd piece of paper I could find, but that has evolved to mostly using ones I create organically. For example, I use wax paper as a pallet in my Gelli printing sessions and then later deconstruct the pallet to use in collage. Many pages come from cleaning off of my paintbrush on blank paper. A particular piece of paper might sit a long time in a box before I “need” it. Sometimes I’ll do a flip-through and get inspired. It can literally be a scrap of paper that starts an entire page or piece. I am an intuitive artist, always!
I sell my art from time to time, but I don’t sell the journals, as they are all my babies, and I am unable to let them go. I did auction one off for charity, though (Women of Mountain City is a program that provides menstrual supplies and information to fight period poverty in Johnson County, Tennessee, where it is an ongoing problem). Usually I like to keep them close to my workspace, to look at when needed. I’ve spent many hours reflecting on my pages and letting things out of my head that needed to go.
Although any actual writing I do gets covered with layers of paint, I use art journals to tell the stories I have inside, to inspire myself, or just to unburden me. It has been life-changing for my mental health.
Q & A: Interview with Kendra C. Scott
Where are you now in your creative journey, compared to where you thought you’d be?
I used to think I needed to have a gallery show by now. That changed when I realized how much I love being a part of the social media community! Sharing and seeing so much amazing and varied artwork changed my entire approach.
What are your creative aspirations?
To have my own studio where I can work and sell my work! I would then be to help other humans unlock art for soul-cleansing connection!
What does it mean to be successful as an artist?
I think making any art is a success. To be a working artist is another thing— I am still striving towards that.
What advice would you give someone who wanted to become a better artist?
Show up to your supplies every day! The more you use them the more you will learn. There are times my hands hurt and I’m unable to paint or sketch, but even if I can only manage five minutes, I try.
What role does social media play in your creative process?
It depends. Sometimes it makes me want to up my game and sometimes it awakens my inner critic. Both things stir my emotions and fuel me creatively.
As an artist, how do you benefit from the various social media platforms that you use?
I get to experience worlds of art styles and mediums in action or the final result of the action. I have made several art friends to exchange advice and tips with. I found TikTok to be the most amazing artistic fun imaginable!
Do people seem to respond differently when they encounter your work in this form versus as a still image?
Absolutely- I have had much more engagement and interaction with other artists through my videos. I grow followers on TikTok so much faster than on Instagram or Facebook. Still images do better on those platforms.
Have you noted any differences in the way that visual art is consumed, appreciated, valued, and/or rewarded across different media or platforms? How about over the course of your journey as an artist?
When I first started actively posting my art, Instagram was the gold standard, but the once visual grid of Instagram has become filled with reels and live broadcasts. That does not cut it for exposure these days.
Who in your opinion are some of the most innovative visual artists working today?
There are many thousands of people out there making art journals in different niches and styles. My top faves are Kasia Avery and Tiffany Goff Smith. Top painters I follow are Jose Trujillo—self-professed greatest living artist—and Sari Shryack of NotSorryArt. She’s incredible.
What have you learned about yourself through your art?
That I never really even knew myself until art opened the floodgates of reflection.