Monday, September 22, 2014

Fascinating Season

Autumn is a very reflective time for me. Not so easy to sit outside and work in the chilly air but nature still entices. The colours around me are influencing my work. I am still playing with my "wonder of the world" quote. My indoor studio always has the window open no matter what the weather outside is doing. I need to hear the trees in the wind, or the rainfall or the birds chirping. It helps me to breathe. The open window invites the opportunity of surprise. This little piece although gilded is still practice.
I am practicing pen drawn borders for The Victorian Pen class. I am practicing with a split nib and trying new materials and new colour combinations. The finished piece becomes an exercise in mindful self critique. It the best way for me to grow as an artist,hone skills and weed out things in my work that need to change. The Autumn Season is helping this process. This little border practice piece is done on Strathmore 400 Series drawing paper with Walnut ink, McCaffery Brown, Watercolour, Watercolour pencil, Gouache, Pastel, Swarovski crystal and Sakura Gelly Roll Pen. All gilding is done with 23K gold leaf and miniatum ink.
The border sketch originated in my journal and is still evolving from the original sketch.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Wonder of the World

As I continue to design and explore ideas for The Victorian Pen workshop, sometimes I get overwhelmed with inspiration. Morning time for me involves sitting outside on my swing and reading for about 30 minutes before I start my day. I picked up an old Fairy Tale book to read and was inspired by the inscription on the first page. "The wonder of the world,the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades, these I saw; look ye also, while life lasts"
This Victorian style piece was lettered outside on a very windy morning. The letterforms themselves took on a windswept look.
I am not done exploring the possibilites of this beautiful text yet. This piece was done with McCaffery Black on Strathmore drawing paper. Gilding was done with 23 K gold leaf and miniatum ink. Staedtler Aquaurelle Watercolour pencils tinted the design and shading was added with Diane Townsend pastels.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Evolution of A Workshop

After numerous requests to expand my Artful Flourish Workshop I am thrilled to offer The Victorian Pen.
The Victorian Pen picks up where The Artful Flourish leaves off. We put away the techniques of offhand flourishing and dive into the realm of the drawn and rendered flourish.
The class offers drawing techniques for the terrified starting with simple florals, shading techniques and gradually expanding to more complex designs! These pen drawings keep the organic qualities inherent in Offhand Flourishing but allow for pencil design and then pen rendering the final product. We launch into European influences from England, France and Italy. The colours, styles, layers and textures of the Victorian Era are explored. Love them or hate them, the Victorians left their mark in history and they had distinct art styles that are wonderful to explore. We trim off their excesses and leave room for the work to breathe. Simple supplies can be used from the humble pencil and walnut ink or be expanded to coloured pencil, watercolour, pastel and gold leaf. Designs start out as simple embellishments and work up to more ornate and complex designs. Full launch in 2015. You can contact me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com for more details. Our new website is in progress! Lots coming in 2015!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dragon Days

A highlight of my summers over the past several years has been attending illumination workshops with Master Illuminator Debbie Thompson Wilson. Debbie has a passion for sharing her love of illumination with her students. Her classes are sold out months in advance. I always sign up for the next class without blinking! It doesn't matter what she is teaching, it just matters that time is put aside to study with her. This year, we spent the past two days working on dragons! So much fun. I always learn something new and cherish the dedicated and peaceful time working on honing skills. Meet "Ack" and "Chomp". So much fun to paint. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful teacher to study with. Illumination has been part of my study time for the past several years. I think it is so important to credit our teachers for helping us achieve skills that bring so much joy to our lives. Thank you dear Debbie! Her work will be part of the 2014 Guelph Studio Tour.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Accomplishment

I need to start clearing my mind of tasks that are associated with the 2014 conference. I am feeling blessed, grateful and a bit tired, but overjoyed at having such a wonderful opportunity to work for IAMPETH. I love this organization more than ever. We are surrounded with wonderful people who willingly step up to the task to work for such a wonderful cause. This year IAMPETH has taken great strides to accommodate the growth that we have experienced. I believe that we will continue to grow and work hard to meet the challenges that come with growth.
I thanked a lot of people in my opening and closing remarks at the conference but I wish I had said more!! I had a strong support team with my Executive Board. Bill Kemp called and emailed regularly to encourage and assist. Rick and Jenny Muffler were positive role models and advisors. So much support!!! I am constantly grateful that they are only a phone call away. Jane Farr and Pamela Salatich were my two INDY residents who rose to every challenge that was presented throughout the year. They were trusted advisors. They also site inspected several INDY hotels for me as I tried to narrow down my search. They were both deserving recipients of the Spirit of Nan Deluca Award! Anne Cheney spent months working on our banquet tickets. I thought she did a spectacular job. I am not gifted with folding abilities but Anniee was up to the task.
I loved the little banquet scroll she placed in each ticket. Thank you Annieeeee!!!!!
Past President Janie Cravens assembled a team of experts to help with Registration. I didn't have to worry about a thing! It was in her capable hands!!! A special treat this year was seeing beautiful Maggie Cravens again! She has been attending IAMPETH conventions since she was 5 years old! There was a lot happening behind the scenes as I navigated this Presidency. I wasn't prepared for all of it but thankfully I was surrounded by very experienced people. Kathy Saunders helped me as I learned about our bylaws. She is a wealth of information and has so many stories to tell! We had late night conversations and lots of laughs!! We had a tearful goodbye at the hotel as we realized that we won't see our precious friends us until next year!! Kathy Markham our wonderful treasurer was warm and helfpul. Always cheerful no matter how much work she was juggling. I have to put up this beautiful picture that I found in our convention photos online.
Neil McCaffery is a hero in our organization. Not only our assistant treasurer, but also the custodian of our archives. If you don't know what is involved in setting up our archive room, you might want to watch Neil next year! He has our archives stored in a salt mine in Kansas. He single handedly retrieves, loads his vehicle and transports them personally back and forth to each convention. He loads and unloads each precious part of that collection, and then supervises the archive room. While doing that, he still finds time to sit in on a class or two at the convention, set us and tears down our owned audio visual equipment and takes care of trouble shooting anything that comes his way, in any department!!!!!!! Somewhere, I am pretty sure he has a superman cape! Neil is adored. There were a lot of administrative tasks to accomplish this year that could easily be delegated from Canada but many tasks needed to be dispatched from the USA. I can never say thank you enough to Debi Zeinert. She is my dear friend. She helped me from the minute the nominating committee approached me about the Presidency. She knew how scared I was to take on this job and assured me that no one ever runs a convention alone. I never felt alone! She was never to busy for me and always willing and able to help me with tasks that were better navigated from the US side of the border! On top of everything she did behind the scenes, she still worked together with Linda Carol Gray on the silent auction. Record sales too!!! Nearly $7000 raised at our silent auction. I am so thankful for the original artwork items that came from so many of you. Brian Walker from England sent an amazing Bloser portrait that was guarded by Skylar Chubak throughout that auction! The penmakers gave of themselves and so many of you contributed to the success of that auction! Thank you!!! Some things seemed to be accomplished by a team of elves who took care of needs even before I anticpated them. Agendas were faithfully checked by Joe Carbone, Bob Hosack, Nick Vrettos and Bryan Platt. Water was being delivered to thirsty round robin particpants and instructors, demonstrations were taking place in John Neal's Bookstore, and spouse day trips were being taken care of by Randy Banks! Indy centerpieces were being crafted and carefully transported to the banquet by the Calligraphy guild of Indiana. Little notes were being placed under my door and gifts were being delivered. Every morning, Nick Vrettos showed up with a handwritten note of encouragement from Jessic Yee. It felt as if she was right there beside me and it got me an extra hug from Nick at the same time. So many gifts were given and so many notes were sent. I am so very grateful!! My faculty was a gift from heaven. Bob Hurford stepped up and took on 3 classes. My dear friend was tired and well deserving of his Iron Man title! Thank you to all of my faculty: Michael Sull, Bob Hurford, Bill Kemp (even though he was sidelined by emergency surgery),Mike Kecseg, Jake Weidmann,John DeCollibus,Sheila Waters, Harvest Crittenden,Rosemary Buczek, Bryan Platt, Ned Gault, Valerie Weilmuenster,Kathy Milici,Tamara Stoneburner, Marian Gault and Barbara Close! You are wonderful!!! There are more thank you's that will go out in the mail!!!! This conference was managed by a team of experts. I had the privilege of being the President and going home with the amazing certificate created by Rosemary Buczek. But every one of you who helped in the slightest way with my convention, deserve proper recognition. You mean the world to me!!!! Precious memories are mine to cherish!
It was a treat to have our logo designer Don Marsh come for the round robin. I had been trying to warn him that there were a lot of people waiting to talk to him!! I think he gets the picture now. I will leave you with this photo of Skyler and Don
and our beautiful Logo. So thankful to Don for setting the look of my convention with that spectacular logo design.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Angel of the Acanthus

I should be packing, but its been so long since I just played with the pen.
I had worked on a vellum and watercolour version of this Baroque inspired cherub, but settled on ink on paper. Far more in my comfort zone. The piece is gilded with 23K Gold leaf and tinted with watercolour pencil and pastel. McCaffery Black was used throughout the piece. The miniature Victorian Flourish measures 4 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches and will be ready for the IAMPETH silent auction!!! Can't wait to head to Indianapolis for the convention and then home to tackle all of the tasks that I have put on hold.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rejoice in the Blossoming of Every Flower.

Sometimes it just takes one moment to completely change your perspective. Tasks of late have been overwhelming but out of the blue I got a phone call from a member of the Calligraphic Art Guild of Toronto. A month ago, I taught my Italian Hand class there and she called to tell me that she had been practicing daily since that class! She had accepted my 6 week boot camp challenge and not a day has gone by when she didn't pick up the pointed pen. I couldn't be happier!!! This piece was created just after that phone call. It reinforced the importance of spending time in practice. This weekend, I put aside some tasks, met with a student for a private lesson, went out for a coffee and did a piece of work just for me. The "Rejoice" piece is done on Canson drawing paper with Robert Hurford's homemade walnut ink which is a gorgeous rich brown!
I used my oil based Polychromos coloured pencils, Diane Townsend pastels and a new gold from the Czech Republic that is more brilliant than any I have used. Not sure if Jerry Tresser has any left, but this gold is pure magic. The colours used departed from my favourite pink. I felt like I needed the warmth of the reds and oranges.
A piece just for me! This piece is reflective of the practice time I am taking to hone different skills and expand my horizons. I am constantly amazed at how much this artform has to teach!

Monday, July 7, 2014

Breathe

Without question, I am asked to create artwork around the word Breathe more than any other word. I have lost count over the years. My most unusual request was to create a tattoo design! My most precious design was created for Trish Taylor, my beautiful friend who has just undergone a double lung transplant.
You can read about Trish's story at Operation Deep Breathe. Many people have contributed to help fund her transplant and I have included a link here to Operation Deep Breathe. Today's design made me think of dear Trish and all that she has gone through leading up to her transplant and now as she recovers from the surgery. Sending her a huge hug as I am mindful of the blessing of being able to breathe no matter how cluttered the days become.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Freeing the Flourish

Today, the calendar is showing me that we are one month away from the IAMPETH convention. It has been a busy year!!! I have tried to guard my time and keep up with letter writing and the sending of cards throughout the year. With this busy pace, something has clarified in my methods of writing and flourishing! I have always taught that 'hesitating is the enemy" and not to "overthink the flourish". Some days, the pen in is ny hand for minutes rather than hours and I have noticed a change in my work as I no longer have the luxury of time. The flourishes are struck more rapidly and I have found more freedom in my writing. The rapid flourishes are less controlled. They edge away from the traditional look of offhand flourishing. I notice micro evolution in my work from time to time and I will play with these flourishes and see where they lead.
Although my life and schedules these days have been on the cluttered side, losing the luxury of time has honed some focus for me. Still trying hard to guard that meditative quality of pen work whenever I pick up the pen. I can see the finish line of the convention tasks and I am grateful for the lessons learned this year.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sacred Mornings

I wanted you to peek at my morning ritual. I try to guard my solitude in the morning before officially beginning my day. The time with pen in hand outside is very healing and sacred to me.
My backyard is my haven. I am surrounded by the sounds of birds and squirrels. Still love the sound of the Carolina Wrens and the chickadees! They brighten every day. I work under a gazebo at the back of my yard. Today I am working on placecards for the IAMPETH closing banquet.
Each name is a welcome joy to letter.
To my right, I have a little table where Juliett the Jay visits and steals the peanuts I leave out for the chipmunk!
I counted 14 squirrels at the bird feeder and 9 starlings at the suet feeder. Peaceful sounds as I work on a joyful task.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A Thankful Day

I have been up early this morning to work on place cards and catch up on correspondence. But my husband Chris was up even earlier and has already started his workday. Working quietly in my studio, I was struck with a thought about how intregal Chris is to my work. This past weekend he was on the road with me as I taught Italian Hand. He stayed for two days with our merchandise, politely answered questions about nibs and paper, adjusted penholders and visited with the calligraphers. They kept wondering if Chris was really a practitioner of the art form. He did try his hand at it but sadly, it was just not his idea of fun. Today as I wrote with a very special penholder that the two of us made together, I wanted to pause and be thankful for all that he has done to help me on this calligraphic journey.
Those of you who have been in my workshops, know that Chris started me on this journey by bringing me home a Scheaffer's calligraphy set and thinking that he had finally found me a cheap hobby! He hadn't counted on the fact that the calligraphic arts would capture me body and soul! Behind the scenes, although working full time as well as weekends on his masonry, he is building us a new website, working on new penstaffs, fulfilling and shipping penstaff orders, editing video content for my online lessons and keeping me sane as I prepare for IAMPETH. He is patient, and he is obliging as I seem to need his help with more and more projects. On the comical side of things, our lathe, which is very antiquated, can no longer slow down. It has one speed, overheats after one or two penstaffs and sounds a bit like a bulldozer! Despite those shortcomings, Chris is still out in the garage working on pen staffs! Thankfully a new lathe has been ordered and should arrive shortly! I wanted to share a look at some of Chris' work while being thankful and mindful of all that he does for the business of Heather Victoria Held.I am incredibly proud of the penstaffs he creates. I still turn a few of them, but most of the time he sets them aside for me to hand dye or inspect.
I couldn't do my work without him! He makes this journey through life so much fun.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

The Beauty of Italian Hand

Giving Special thanks for my dear friend Don Marsh today! Over the past 2 years, he has helped me with advice and insight as I prepared for a March workshop in Italian Hand. On March 1st, I soft launched this workshop to 22 participants from the Royal City Calligraphy Guild. The results were amazing as people who had not handled the pointed pen before became as intrigued as I am with this gorgeous hand.
This morning, Cocker, Snell, Clark, Bickham and Becker are on a road trip with me as I fully launch this workshop in its two day format for the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto. I feel as if I have gone through hundreds of miniature studies as this hand was slow to yield its secrets. I will share a bit more about Italian Hand after this workshop. In the meantime, I feel so incredibly blessed to be able to share this wonderful hand with eager new students! Part of today's study will be to contrast it with English Roundhand and even take a peek at how this hand influeces Spencerian script.
This hand has captured my hand and my heart. As I write it daily, it has become more inuitive to me than any other hand. Feeling as the Writing Masters are smiling this morning as a hand that was probably so simple for them has presented so many puzzles to me!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Pure Joy

I am long overdue in updating my blog!!! This is an understatement, but life has been busy. I am still playing catch up on commissions I received in December! Thankfully, I still find moments when I can share my work with someone who just needs a little lift.
My purest and most profound joy comes when I can work on such a piece. The inspiration for it finds me, I don't have to chase it. The time comes to me, I don't have to put anything aside. Miraculously, Oscar rarely impedes the process!
It is a magical process and as the piece gets mailed off to its recipient, the magic continues. I don't know when it will arrive or how it will be recieved. But is sent with all the joy and brightness I can muster. So thankful for the pen, the lessons it brings, and the way it can bless someone else and the voice it gives me when my own words fail. I remain humbled and in awe of the whole process.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Fleeting Moments

" We have only this moment...." I am trying to remain conscious of each precious moment while being fully absorbed in this busy season. So thankful for the pen and ink. No matter how hectic things get, I am taking time to clear my writing desk each night and put some playful strokes on paper.
Grateful that the disciplined study of Italian Hand seems to have affected my Roundhand. Finding freedom and pleasure in both. This dashed off example was done with my trusty straight holder, an Esterbrook 356 and Walnut Ink on Maruman paper. Most of my ornamental pen work is now done with a straight holder, while I continue to use my oblique for Spencerian Script. As I catch up on pen orders and a myriad of deadlines, I will be scarce on facebook although always available by phone or email if you need me. I will try to keep my blog updated.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter

Happy Easter Dear Friends!!!! A quick post today. This little piece represents lots of exploration for me. I am undertaking a huge study in Italian Hand as I prepare to teach an extended class over the summer. Italian Hand and walnut ink go hand in hand and as a result, I used it to letter this piece taking a break from my usual McCaffery Brown. The use of the walnut ink required a change in my usual line and wash technique. I also changed my trusted gilding medium to experiment with Instacoll and Miniatum Ink. Still not a fan of the Instacoll but I love the possibilities with the pointed pen and Miniatum ink. Other changes included experimenting with a porcelain rather than plastic palette, Sennelier Watercolour rather than Winsor Newton, the entire piece including the fur on the rabbit was done with a Kolinsky sable brush size 2 rather than my normal 000. All the greens were mixed rather than relying on altering Sap Green. A fun piece to play with and enjoy different techniques. I love Spring!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Recap Of the Enchanted Letter Workshop: Goldner Walsh Nursery, Pontiac, Michigan

In 2011, I embarked on a year long project with my dear friend Dana Cochran of A Fine Line Studio in Asheville, North Carolina. Dana and I have been friends since meeting at The Spencerian Saga in Ohio back in 2005. There has scarcely been a day gone by that we don't email each other! You can read all about our year long project together if you follow my blog posts from 2011. Dana's work followed a botanical path. She would take an elegantly drawn Roman capital and embellish it with a beautiful botanical water colour. My journey started with traditional illumination techniques which I quickly got bored with. I wanted to design letterforms that could work with script lettering. I did not want to copy traditional illuminated letters. I wanted my designs to be unique and a reflection of my taste. I took traditional gilding techniques but throughout the year, I developed ways to make the letterforms more flourished. The resulting study year with Dana turned into The Enchanted Letter workshop. I was taking bookings to teach the workshop before the project was completed. Since 2011, I gave been delighted to travel to many locations to teach The Enchanted Letter. This past weekend, I spent time in Pontiac, Michigan at The Goldner Walsh Nursery teaching the class. One of the attendees sent me some pictures and I am delighted to share them here. The workshop starts with an exploration of the influences that came together to create the letterforms. I start with Medieval and Renaissance illuminations and how they shaped my thinking. I also introduce my students to the work of my illumination teacher Debbie Thompson Wilson and my favouite Victorian Illustrators. Each letterform is designed by the student.
Nothing is copied, they all explore their own sense of design and learn techniques to critique their own work. The two days fly by at lightning speed and I hope that each student leaves with a sense of Enchantment in their own abilities to create something unique! Hope you enjoy the pictures. I had no idea that the year long study with Dana would end up being such fun to teach in a workshop. The workshop proceeds through various styles of letterforms as well as learning to design ornamental foliate extensions.