According to a recent report, picking up a hobby can not only entertain you, but it can also help you to deal with anxiety and depression. In this new series, #myfirst, we talk to talented people who have made what was once a hobby into a career and ask them for their top tips in taking up their chosen skill.
Marketing, branding and communications guru Jo-Anne Loi, has worked with a range of major brands including Porsche, Mini, Mazda, Chijmes, CapitaLand and the Singapore Tourism Board, keeping her busy and creative. However, when COVID-19 arrived she realised she needed something else to not only fill her days, but also to help her cope with being in lockdown.
Jo-Anne took up painting as a hobby and before she realised it, she was being offered exhibitions and creating collateral products to sell because people really love her work.
To me, painting has always been an artwork where the artist employs various methods of applying paint and colour to create a pleasant piece!Jo-Anne
What made you take up painting as your hobby? When did you first start?
“There is a funny story to this. During the COVID period year-end of 2020, I caught a variety show featuring artists coping with COVID as everything came to a standstill. In that episode, everyone was painting while stuck in a house. I thought, ‘Hey Jo, maybe you can try painting too!’
“The very next day, I bought acrylic paint, canvas and paper. I started doodling, and that's how I started painting. As it was year-end, I started making small pieces to give away for Christmas and received a fair bit of validation for my art when gifting these pieces to friends. They loved them, and that encouraged me further.
Have you always been creative and interested in painting?
“When I was in school, I did my fair share of painting but never over-thought it. I enjoyed it but left it as it was. During my university days at NUS, I picked up a keen interest in magazines - fashion, lifestyle, home interior, etc.
“I would spend a fair bit of my pocket money buying Martha Stewart Home Magazines and various fashion magazines. Reading a variety of magazines continued even when I started work. With work, I was exposed to even more magazines, like The Art Magazine and just all kinds of magazines, even the likes of Tatler etc.
“I respond to people, musicals, travel and museums, so when I am inspired, I can almost see myself painting in my mind. When I travel for leisure and work, visiting museums is a MUST. I guess I have always had a keen appreciation of art in general.”
How did you go from being a 'hobby painter' to holding two exhibitions?
“I have my lucky stars to thank. I’m immensely thankful to two individuals. First up, my boss when I worked at Chijmes. Colin now runs a non-profit organisation called The Rice Company, and he has graciously allowed me to use the gallery where he operates at Orchard Central. We were causally catching up in August 2021 when he broached the topic of having an art exhibition there. I had never imagined I would have that opportunity as I was just starting out [as an artist].
“Of course, I seized the opportunity and started painting A LOT to prepare for the exhibition. Named DUALITY, my first exhibition opened on 1 December 2021. A couple of friends helped to make the exhibition run successfully, from designing marketing materials to curating my artwork! [I’m] very thankful.
“Next was my headhunter, Jaime, who had opened a restaurant during COVID and has also graciously allowed me to showcase my artwork there. As her restaurant Umami 10 focuses on supporting local artists, my opportunity came in June 2022, when my art showcase began in the space.”
What is the best thing about having a hobby? What are the benefits?
“A hobby is an activity or interest pursued for pleasure or relaxation. I LOVE it. Painting as a hobby allows me to express my creativity, and I enjoy the process.
We live in a very stressful society, and this outlet takes the stress away and sparks joy for me.”
Do you think there are any negatives to having a hobby?
“If a hobby drives you to extremes, then it is time to review [what you’re doing].”
How would you define painting now? Do you call yourself a 'professional' painter or an artist?
“To me, painting has always been an artwork where the artist employs various methods of applying paint and colour to create a pleasant piece! A STRUGGLING ARTIST is how I label myself. Ha.”
What is the best thing about painting? Why do you love it so much?
“Painting relaxes me and helps me stay creative. I love being creative! The reward of growing and expanding my artistic skills also creates a sense of accomplishment.
“The painting process can be complicated. From choosing the colour palette to creating textures, they all require a lot of thought. While the thought can be complicated, I love that it involves the ‘creative’ bit in me. Finally, the output of a visually appealing painting gives me a lot of joy! An indescribable joy.”
What are your top 3 tips for taking up a hobby?
A hobby is an activity to keep you relaxed and happy, so look at something you already enjoy doing and make that your hobby!
If something piqued your interest in the past, look for a class to learn more about it. It’s good to stick to one or two hobbies that can make you happy.
A hobby needs to be sustainable, like many things, so it's good to know how much time you can devote to that hobby. But don't be afraid to try new things and see if you can continue.
What do you suggest people do to ensure that they don't give up a hobby too quickly and perhaps waste their money on tools etc?
“Be mindful of how much time you can devote to the hobby and try to spend wisely in the beginning. When you are more confident that you will continue the hobby long-term, invest more resources into it. Sustainability is KEY.”
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While you're here, shop for these art tools to begin your painting journey:
1. U.S. Art Supply 9" x 12" Premium Drawing Paper Pad
2. Canson Pack Fine Arts 400056375 Oil Figueras Paper
3. Ohuhu Complete Acrylic Paint Set
4. Arteza Acrylic Pouring Paint, 2oz Bottles, Set of 32 Assorted Colors
5. Windsor & Newton - Professional Watercolor, Set of 24 Colors
6. Faber-Castell 48-Pieces Goldfaber Aqua Water Colour Pencil
7. Chalkola Watercolor Paint Set for Adults, Kids, Beginner & Professional Artists
8. 12 Pieces Assorted Size Mini Art Canvas Stretched for Craft Painting Drawing (3 Inches, 4 Inch, 5 Inch, 6 Inch)
9. Bosobo Paint Brushes Set, 2 Pack 20 Pcs
10. KEFF Acrylic Paint Set for Adults - Art Painting Supplies Kit with Tabletop Easel, Brushes, Canvas, Acrylic, Palette, Paint Knives & Cup for Professional & Beginners
11. Paint by Numbers Van Gogh Sunflower Painting
1. Faber-Castell PL14325 6-Pieces Dot a Design Animal Sheet Set
2. Pentel ZST21-P Paint Set, Art Supplies Set
3. Crayola Table Top Easel & Paint Set