This week, we meet Benay Sotelo in the spotlight.

Q: Benay, tell us more about yourself. Where are you from? When do you create? What else fills your days?

A: I currently live in San Jose, California with my husband of 35 years. We are preparing for a move to Eagle, Idaho this summer when my husband retires. An exciting adventure lays ahead. I am a retired homemaker which means I have a lot of time to explore my creative side. Be it drawing, painting, sewing, knitting, crocheting, canning or bicycling and hiking to collect photos and ideas for future references.

Q: How did your creative journey start?

A: I first started drawing and painting when my children were very young as a way to unwind. I took a drawing class offered at a local community center at night and fell in love with the feeling of control and the process of creating. I was later introduced to quilting where I was able to design with fabric as my palette. I continue to quilt weekly with a local group. I enjoy working with many textiles and the sensation of creating something from “nothing”. I’ve also taken a class with my daughter Gina to learn how to spin yarn from raw wool and I just recently took a pottery class and learned how to throw pots on a wheel and I tell you, this is really making something from nothing!

When my children were grown, my mother moved in with my husband and I about 10 years ago. While she lived with us, I was her primary companion. So when she passed a few years ago, I felt a void in my life. Art was where I turned for solace. This time I concentrated my interest in watercolor and I joined the Santa Clara Valley Watercolor Society and explored “en plein air” at weekly paint sites. They are a group of extremely talented artists which can be intimidating and inspiring all at the same time.

I had also been following Koosje and Danny on YouTube and enjoyed their style of teaching so much that I decided to take the Urban Sketching course in Sketchbook Skool. I enjoyed it so much, I promptly signed up for SketchKon in Pasadena, California in 2018. My daughter Gina, also an art enthusiast, went with me. We loved the vibe and energy of all the speakers and other “Kon artists”. With the roaming models being a highlight, we were both hooked, and now we get together weekly to share what we have art journaled over the week. I have since taken a few other courses, the latest being Mixed Media Journaling. This was such a surprise course in how freeing it was for me. I wasn’t planning on taking it as it didn’t seem to be what I was interested in and it turned out to be one of my favorites. You never know what you need creatively until you open up and try something new.

Q: How do you fit art into your life right now? Are you involved in any other creative activities?

A: I try to do something creative everyday, in fact I need to make some kind of “marks” everyday or I don’t feel complete. I will sometimes find myself holding a pen even when I don’t plan on writing or drawing something. It’s like my subconscious knows I need to leave my mark. I love the practice of keeping a sketch journal.

Q: What has your creative practice taught you?

A: I do still feel the pressure of creating a beautiful page, but more times than not it’s not what I planned. I’ve learned that’s okay. Turn the page. I have also learned that it’s important to keep trying new things, as many times it’s the accumulation of your experiences that help you find your voice. I’m still searching for mine, and that’s okay.

We love Benay’s philosophy on finding her voice and can’t wait to see where her creative journey takes her next!

Filed under categories: