Thursday, January 14, 2021

Knowing and Understanding

 This weekend I taught my Notes for the New Year course online. I had so much fun sharing the my insights into Victorian Scraps and I see so many beautiful letters of correspondence being creating. I am overjoyed to see the work. To see how a student will interpret what I teach and transform that idea with their own vision is just so inspiring. Dear students, keep up the wonderful work as you share your notes with others around the world. I have enjoyed the process of sending a few more cards and notes than I usually manage to send.

One of the advantages of preparing courses for students is the ability to spend time in research and study. My mentor Brian Walker always encouraged me to study. He would insist that time observing, thinking, reading, crafting, and time studying was as important as the time that I was working putting pen to paper at my desk. He always stressed that there was a difference between knowledge and understanding. As we continue this year of strange and unprecedented times, it appears that we may be in our homes again for long periods of time. It means we will have so many study opportunities if we want them. Let me stress that as you take in knowledge, also take some time to absorb what you are learning. Progress from the infill of knowledge to truly absorbing and understanding what you are doing. That does not mean that you will suddenly be able to do all of your artistic and calligraphic work flawlessly. But you will be always inching closer to refining those skills that you have been chasing. Be patient with yourself. You are right where you should be on your journey! If your studies take you down a rabbit hole of seemingly of artistic pursuits that make you happy...it is ok to dive in. I truly believe that so many of our creative pursuits have a deep connection that can relate to each other. So if you don't feel like putting ink on paper one day and want to play with your paints, go ahead and enjoy! If you feel like knitting rather than drawing, indulge the knitter inside you. If your script writing is stressing you out for a day or two, just put it aside and do something else. Lately, I found myself looking through my old embroidery books and being inspired by their gentle designs.  More than ever, we need these calming and peaceful pursuits to accompany us. I find that even when I read a few phrases, I can be inspired for my next project. Find the quiet, calm and joy that these creative outlets can bring to you. I know that these days we may have to dig a little deeper to find peace, but I know we can find it.
I have had so many emails for info about upcoming classes and private lessons. Indeed, I teach privately all the time and I have a pdf file of my online teaching schedule that is available if you email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com. One of the happiest celebrations I will have this year is my 10th Anniversary of teaching The Enchanted Letter. I am working so hard on revising the course, expanding content and sharing some lessons that I have learned along the way as I developed these letters. I will try hard to post some letters each month! Let's start with the letter A based on the shape of a French Round Cursive style.  Most of my Enchanted Letters are based on a Pink, Blue, Green palette but I started this design by working with a Periwinkle blue and lavender palette. I achieved the colour of the letter by combining Carbazole Violet with French Ultramarine blue. As I expand the course, the designs will become a bit more Victorian and ornate at times. As I continue to develop the letters and do further research I continue to do that dance between knowledge and understanding. 

Sweet friends, I am sending hugs across the miles. Have fun with your creative pursuits. Encourage one another on this journey. Email anytime! Thank you all so much for the kind words you share with me. Your kindness means so much to me. 





Saturday, January 2, 2021

Notes for the New Year

 Welcome 2021!!! The word on my mind this year is Hope.


Let's Hope together for a bight year ahead, I learned years ago, that I am not good at making or keeping resolutions. It seems that yearly goals are not good for me, but I do try to plan things on a weekly basis. I don't set huge goals, but continue to take small steps forward in the right direction. I realize that I am very methodical about certain things. I always use the same weekly diary to plan my days, weeks and months. I use a  Moleskine Pro Weekly Diary. It has enough space for me to write in each day and has a two blank pages in between each week where I can add extra notes or keep track of ideas. I have been using this style of planner for about 6 years I think.  The fountain pen I use in this diary is always the same as well. I use the Platinum Plasir Fine tip Fountain Pen. This was a very inexpensive fountain pen but it has been a workhorse for me since 2015. I use it daily, and the tip of the pen has been wonderful. ! I always use the same pink cartridge refills in it to match the body of the pen. I try to be methodical about this daily ritual. However, there are times when I just ignore the diary/planner in a sort of rebellious way and have days where I can let things just happen without being overly planned. This results in blank spaces in the journal which I also have to ignore without being stressed about it. Not every day will be productive. I will have days that I can't keep up to my tasks, but no matter what happens, I can turn the page and set up tasks for the next week with that same attitude of Hope.


I have just finished writing my new set of handouts for my Notes for the New Year workshop. I will be teaching through the European Pointed Pen Collective next weekend. In many ways, this course is taking me back to a mindful practice that I  did for years when I first began my calligraphy journey. Whenever I was studying some new aspect to include in my artwork, I would practice the techniques over and over again. Inevitably, I would create stacks of work on practice paper. Some of it was good and some needed to be discarded. However, when I started working on better quality paper, I found that I was much more mindful about the work I was doing and quite often, I could complete work that I was proud of. I developed the practice of working on paper that was cut down to note card size. Every Sunday, I would go through my note cards and let my mind wander a bit. Someone would come to mind and I would address an envelope and send out a note. I have never completely stopped this practice. Often I just feel to write to someone and come out to the studio and put pen to paper. I hope to continue to do this throughout the year. So many of you have written to me and will try hard to keep up with the correspondence as I create these Notes for the NewYear,  My first walk to the post this weekend will be with a note for Paul Antonio.

He has been such a blessing with his videos on YouTube and his social media posts. He is pascribe on Instagram if you have not discovered his work. I love watching his script variations videos.  His note was written on Strathmore Foldover Note cards.

I designed this logo for Strathmore several years ago. Strathmore blessed me with a few boxes of the notecards and I am rapidly going through them.  The paper is wonderful to write on and I found that I could apply watercolour washes as well as gold leaf. 

Happy New Year my dear friends. Please continue to keep in touch with me. You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com. I will be releasing a few new courses this yea and I am continuing to book private students throughout the year. I will keep the blog updated. Hugs all around!

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

December Wonder

 As we approach the last days of December in a year like no other, the word that is in my head and heart is Wonder.


I wonder at the year we have had and wonder what 2021 will be like. Despite the challenges this year I have felt so grateful for friends old and new, my dear family and my wonderful group of students.  I am so thankful for being able to keep in touch through email, social media, Zoom, the telephone and snail mail. You have shared photos with me from your gardens, sent me magazine articles to read and shared pieces of your story with me. I am so grateful to you. Whatever your traditions are at this time of year, I hope you have a peaceful and blessed Christmas season. One of my usual Christmas traditions is to create a YouTube video to share with you.



 I have posted it on my channel. I am filled with wonder and hope for 2021. Sending hugs to you all. Merry Christmas dear friends.


Monday, December 14, 2020

Notes for the New Year

 Here we are half way through December. Time continues to fly by and I wanted to greet you before things get too busy as I complete this month. I hope you are finding lots of time to pursue the things that make you happy.  Currently, I am seeing an explosion of courses available to study online and that is both wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.  We can get  inundated with ideas and want to take every course but not get the chance to really digest what we have learned. I do this all the time and realize that it takes me time to really understand and apply what has been presented in a course. With that thought in mind, I feel  somewhat hesitant to let you know about the next course I will have available early January.   I will be releasing a new course through the European Pointed Pen Collective.





The course is called Notes for the New Year. This class is designed to give you a peaceful approach to correspondence through the ornamental designs of Victorian Scraps. It involves slowing down and adding small areas of ornament to a note or card. It is a short course but hopefully one you will refer back to for years to come.


This year as I have completely stopped my travel, I have expanded the time I allow for studies with private students. I have had several students take long term courses with me and I have been so thrilled to see their progress. Working with private students has been my preferred way to teach as I feel like I have not only been able to teach and really watch skill levels bloom, I have also been able to forge some real friendships. If you are interested in any private studies in the New Year, please email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com. I will be expanding course content from The Alphabet Garden this year for students who want to take a deeper look at illuminated letters and refine their skills. I will be introducing this throughout 2021. Lots to come!!!

All of that being said, I want to reinforce that we all are so unique and have different study approaches. Online courses are not for everyone and neither is private instruction. If you feel like you do your best work through private study and research, I will be cheering you on. There are many times where I feel inspired and instructed by doing some research or reading through what is on my bookshelf.  Whatever approach you take to your studies, your hobbies or your relaxation, I hope you fill your life with things that bring you joy and delight. I have loved spending time with you this year. Thank you for your support, encouragement and friendship. Hugs all around!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Sounds of December

 This morning my walk to the post office was especially quiet and mindful. There was a little bit of slushy snow on the road and the tree branches were white and fluffy.  Each season brings different bird songs in the yard but this morning I couldn't hear the delightful chickadee or the nuthatch. The feeders were all empty so I took some time to fill them. The snow came before we had a chance to heat the birdbath so it was frozen solid. As soon as I filled the feeders and placed some peanuts around the yard I heard fluttering wings and could see the pine branches start to bounce. I noticed a large crow in the branches. His beak was dusted with snow and he was so majestic against the branches. 




 I watched other birds and squirrels for a few minutes this morning. St Francis looks like he is wearing a winter cape and hat.




 Nature is filled with wonder and awe. I feel blessed to be able to pause and acknowledge December. This has been a year like no other we have ever known and has brought such challenges. In times like this, I welcome the pause, the time to notice and the time to reflect. Wherever you are this first day of December,I hope there is something nearby that can bring you a moment of pause and joy. Sending December hugs!

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Flourish

This month I have been so busy getting ready for my online class through Acorn Arts Classroom. I will be  teaching Festive Offhand Flourishing techniques and I am looking forward to sharing all that I know with the group of students who have registered for the course.


Info is online if you have the time or the inclination to take the class. I would love to meet you there. As I have been busy preparing the course notes as well as lecturing at the Atlanta Friends of The Alphabet Guild I have been reminded about the importance of the flourish. The word flourish has many meanings. One of its meanings is "to bloom." I have found that the key to my passion for the pointed pen has been from my roots in offhand flourishing.

I love scripts and calligraphic hands as well as the process of developing skills in penmanship. But offhand flourishing is free. It builds skills and confidence rapidly.  It allows you to have a mistake on the page, and then just move on from it. Because of its "detachment" from being forced into a particular letter shape, it is more of a direct process of thinking on paper. There is definitely a meditative quality to it where you will begin to "think without thinking." As you practice these simple strokes, your skills will definitely bloom.

 Although I find it difficult to put into words, I always find myself feeling refreshed and at peace when I take time to play with the pointed pen. 2020 has been such a stressful year for so many of us. We need to find more peaceful pursuits and engage in things that generate this state of well being.Whether you draw with a pencil, knit, paint, sculpt or put puzzles together, I encourage you to dive into the things you are passionate about and bring you peace. Find that feeling of well being!  Sending you all hugs around the world!!!

Monday, November 2, 2020

Noticing November

 Yesterday our clocks turned back for an hour. I said goodbye to October and welcomed November.


 I am always noticing how different the light looks when  we reach November. It just seems to reflect a bit differently against the trees or the cardinals on the branches. The sounds are different in the garden as well. The blue jays seem to be the loudest voices and every morning I can hear the nuthatches and their quiet little beep of a chirp. Simple delights to notice in my day.


The icicle pansies are still blooming even though they were greeted with snow today.

I have lots going on this month and well into the holiday season. Yesterday, registration opened for my online presentation of The Holiday Festive Flourish that will be hosted through my dear friend Harvest at Acorn Arts online. I am looking forward to sharing it with you and hopefully launch many of you into the peaceful world of offhand flourishing. I will share all I can throughout the two session format.  Flourishing has qualities that are almost meditative and I find it so restorative to work in this gentle way with ink on paper. 


Private sessions for students will continue to be available in the new year.  I am also starting to host small groups online for those of you who have a few friends that you want to study with. I will share more info about that as well in the new year. Guild workshops are also moving to Zoom meetings for the foreseeable future for me. I am happy to talk to your guild about this possibility. 

We are still painting and shipping pens although I seldom have time to post the pens these days. This special little squirrel is on its way to her new owner. If you would like to see our available pens, just send an email to me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com and let me know what you are looking for.

I want to thank the people who have been messaging me on Instagram, Facebook or sending email notes and even beautiful snail mail! You have been such a blessing as you share your thoughts and personal journey with me.  I feel so grateful to share my work with you and I hope that you continue to find joy and peace in all of your artistic pursuits. This has been one stressful and anxious year for so many of us. Finding that sanctuary of peace  can be so difficult.


Wherever you are in this world, I am sending hugs your way and encouraging you on your artistic journey. Continue to share the beauty of what you do with others. I believe that even small things make a huge difference in someone's life. You have all been such a blessing to me and I am so grateful to you. 

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Times and Seasons

I am currently sitting at my partially cluttered studio desk as I prepare this blog post. I am used to a pretty meticulous routine of washing down the studio desk every Saturday and then dusting and vacuuming the studio. You would think with all of my time at home that I would be able to keep up with this routine. Even though our pace of life and our experiences this year are vastly different that previous years, I am finding myself overwhelmed at times. This same feeling of being overwhelmed is coming through in emails from students, friends and colleagues. Generally speaking, I try hard to include a time to pause and reflect each day. Take some slower, deeper breaths, gather my thoughts and count my blessings. These past few weeks I feel like I have missed that routine several times. I have taken several online courses including sign writing, calligraphy, and botanical illustration. There is just so much being offered and I want to continue to learn. I have noticed though, that as much as I want to continue to study, there is a limit to how much I can absorb. I honestly let some amazing courses pass by because I knew I could not keep up with the study and the homework. That feeling of being overwhelmed and having too many oars in the water at once is helping me to focus on things that are really important right now. 


In these strange times that we are navigating and finding so many online study opportunities, remember to pause and take a breath. Sometimes you will have so much going on in your day that you will find it difficult to practice. We all have those days. Pause and take a breath. Look at something else. Be inspired and just pause. Each season we go through has its own challenges and possibilities. There will be new and different seasons coming our way. 
With all of that being said, two of my large presentations of online courses have been advertised. I want to assure you that I would love to meet you in class but I am also so aware that you may be overwhelmed with all of the course offerings available. If you want to join my presentation of The Poetic Pen (Italian Hand) through The European Pointed Pen Collective, I would be so happy to share my passion for this hand with you. If you have time in December, I will be sharing my Holiday Festive Flourishes through Acorn Arts online. I am so excited to be able to share with you this way. If you would love to join but already have so many courses going on I completely understand. It is not a good feeling to be fragmented and unable to focus on the task at hand. Whatever choices you make, I am cheering you on in all of your endeavours. I encourage you to surround yourself with the things you love, feed your soul and cherish the time you have to explore the things that make you happy. 
One thing that has been so clear to me during this season we are going through collectively is the need to continue to share a note of kindness or encouragement. As calligraphers, we have a powerful force at our fingertips. Sometimes a note spanning the miles can mean so much.


Dear friends I am so grateful for you all. Thank you for sending me beautiful photos of flowers in your garden, letting me know how flourishing has been so helpful during these times and even inviting me for virtual tea. You are all such a blessing to me. Enjoy the sights and sounds of October. Pause and take a breath. Hugs all around!

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Softly September

 It seems I start most of blog posts marvelling that another calendar page has turned.


2020 is a remarkably strange year but in its own unique way has brought things that I am so grateful for. Summers are usually my busiest time. This summer, I have been home and not far from my studio and garden. I have seen the garden grow, watched bunnies eat my beets and roses and enjoyed all kinds of sparrows splashing in the bird bath. The slow and mindful mornings have been a welcome pace. I feel as if I have really experienced the season and that is such a blessing. 


Here in my studio, I have been able to write to people as their letters arrive in the post. I have received beautiful envelopes and notes. The words from friends are so cherished as I know it might be quite some time before our paths cross again in person. 

I have been working on commissions, pens, private tutorials for students and soon will launch some larger courses online. One of the first courses I will be presenting online is through the European Pointed Pen Collective. I will be presenting Italian Hand. I will update info here on the blog when the registration opens up. I look forward to sharing this beautiful hand with you! You can hear some of my thoughts about Italian Hand on a recent episode of the Calligraphy Podcast.

Whatever you are up to this September, I hope you are finding joy in the journey. Even though these are indeed strange times, I know you will be able to uncover some of the hidden blessings. Thank you all for your notes of encouragement and precious emails that you send. Your support as my students and as my friends means so much to me. 


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Grateful Momemts

Right now I am in my quiet studio with the windows open to hear the baby bluejays in the yard. Usually the first bird to visit the garden in the mornings is the noisy little Carolina wren. He is so noisy but always so welcome. The camera is always close by but he is so quick and elusive. The baby blue jays are a bit easier to photograph.

I feel like the spring and summer have flown by at an accelerated pace. I have been so grateful to be here at home to experience the garden, weeds and all and watch things as they grow. I love the quiet and have had lots of time to work in my studio. I am so grateful to be able to work closely with so many private students as my travel teaching schedule is on hold indefinitely. There are so many wonderful opportunities online these days to study various things and I feel fortunate to be included as one of your choices! The photos below are part of study packets that get sent out to my private students when the courses are complete. You can email me at anytime if you would like information about any of my private courses.

This summer  I have begun to reread the biography of Kate Greenaway. Kate's work has inspired me for years and it is so good to learn more about her life and her daily routine. She remains one of my biggest artistic heroes.
She was often criticized for her unique style and her desire to continue to paint and draw subjects that she loved. She would listen to her critics to hear what they had to say while she remained true to her own vision. The more I ponder that, the more remarkable I find her. We all have an artistic vision and unique skills, talents and gifts. It does take a measure of strength and determination to continue to pursue our own unique vision. While I worked on this initial and border, Kate continued to inspire me. 


I recognize right now that there are so many challenges around us. Where ever you are in the world, I hope you  have a space of time in your life and corner in a room where you can pursue something that brings you peace and joy. Seek out a moment in a day where you can pause in wonder and gratitude. I am sending virtual hugs and encouragement to you as I write this. If you need a more personal note of encouragement in your mailbox, please write to me at heather@heathervicoriaheld.com. I would love to hear from you. Enjoy August my dear friends. I am so grateful for all of you!