Sunday, October 2, 2022

October Is Here....and my heart is full!

 Welcome to a breezy October morning. There I a bit of a chill in the air and joy in my heart.

 I have so much to share this month!Minutes ago, Symbiosis II wrapped up the exhibit for this fall. I cannot begin to share all that I have processed with this journey. I feel like I have gained far more than I have given and I am energized beyond what I thought was possible. I think what was most energizing was seeing the passion and enthusiasm of a young generation who are seeing this world of calligraphy and ornament through fresh eyes. It is easy to take for granted a burgeoning bookshelf and cupboard full of art supplies. Maybe we forget what it was like to purchase our first tube of paint and wonder if it will be worth the money. Or maybe we don't remember that we used to buy our sheets of paper one at a time and just how precious it was to have that full sheet to explore.  What has imprinted so profoundly for me is how attentive this young generation is to these new experiences. Nothing is taken for granted and it has been an incredibly enlightening and rewarding experience. I think I will be unpacking the rewards for quite some time. There is something about sharing a process and journey with others that relieves a sense of isolation we can feel in our studios of solitude and puts some polish in our own work.

I can finally share some exciting news about upcoming classes. I know there are so many to explore and your plate may be full. Mine is full as an instructor as well. As an artist who is trying to keep up with all of the classes, I feel like I have made some new discoveries that I am excited to share. Festive Flourish open for registration with The Gentle Penman. This is a wonderful class even if flourishing is new to you. I am overflowing with new ideas for this class including more thoughts for a flourished reindeer.

We will use a template for the shape so there is no need to worry if you think you cannot draw. There is a vintage feel to it with the elongated, narrow neckline of this particular deer. What a joy to just let flourishes evolve on the paper. I used Michaels Recollection Cardstock for the design which feels very thin these days but it works well with the Bleedproof White. 

Woodland Peace is also open for registration on The Gentle Penman website.

The process of painting has become more and more enticing to me. This approach uses a lot of control of the watercolour medium. I am keeping the floral and foliate colours minimal as this class will be presented in one session. When the work is completed, you could have a finished design to print for you holiday card. As I look back on the piece, I can see the influence of my William Morris studies. Not only his finished designs, but his ability to pursue the things he wanted to explore have impacted me so much. He knew what to exclude and what to pursue. I have had to keep that thought in mind as I plan things for 2023.

If you want a festive exploration of the Enchanted Meadow, I will be sharing some insights in the December class for Ardington School.  Each time I teach a class I try to find new things to explore. As I was preparing for this class an Enchanted Meadow Mouse took shape. There are always new avenues to explore. This is such an interesting pursuit and I don't believe I will ever be bored. Gold leaf as well as 23K handmade shell gold was added to this piece. The little mouse was such a happy departure from my usual bunnies but I am sure a bunny is not far behind. 

If you are looking ahead on Ardington's schedule, they have also posted For the Love of Birds which continues with drawing and painting. Right now the notes include the Cerulean Warbler as our study subject but I am working hard on a male and female cardinal as well. Once again, a delicate painting technique is the focus of this class. 

Finally, I have just announced the news of the 2023 Flights of Fancy program with The Gentle Penman.

The class info will be on their site on October 3rd. Registration for the course which begins in January will not open until October 23rd. This will be a very small class. The course content and the component of feedback and troubleshooting will need to  be kept to a small class. We also want you to really consider and see if you have room in your life to take the program. I will be sharing research and study methods throughout the class and I expect that each student will do different work.  I will continue to share details of this program through the blog and IG posts but what is most important for me in this course is for you to find your own path and your own voice. This will be the most intensive course I have ever taught. It will take about 5 months over 12 sessions online. There will be feedback for the work submitted and there will be lots of work involved not only for you as a student but for me as instructor. I am feeling a bit crazy for embarking on this but also so excited. The driving force behind the class is what I see from my private students who have been with me for an extended period of time. They are doing work that I would never have dreamed or imagine is possible. And they are pushing me into new explorations as well. I am so very grateful to my students. 

If you are interested in the program, you can read about the details on The Gentle Penman on October 3rd.  You can also contact me with questions.  I want to engage your whimsical side as we look at these skills together. We can have a playful yet studious approach. I believe that this is a tender hearted world in need of joy and peace. What we do with our hands can reach others and enrich our lives so much. I will have lots more to share.  Expect some advanced flourishing techniques, explorations in gilding, watercolour and drawing. We will design fanciful inhabited initials and finally create an illuminated page together.

I do recommend a textbook to study for the entire course. The book is The Beauty of Letters by John P. Wilson. If you have the book, you will know that it is not instructive. But there are ways to engage with the book that can inform your work.  I realize that many of you have not been receiving the post notifications of the blog. If you contact me, I will add you again to the notification list so you don't miss out on posts. I know there was a lot in this post. Beyond classes, there is so much in my heart and mind to share with you. Whatever you are doing on this October afternoon, I hope you find joy in the journey!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Symbiosis II

 Sitting at my desk on a day that really feels like autumn. Tea at the swing still happened but with a jacket and a chill in the air. I woke up this morning and prepared for the launch of the Symbiosis II Mentoring Journey exhibit. Please take some time to read about the initiative and see the incredible works of art that have been produced. Each person involved has a story. They are unique people with their own vision and such precious gifts to share. I feel blessed to have been able to mentor for these past months. I have definitely learned lessons along the way and the lessons can be passed on in the future. I do a lot of teaching and it is such a blessing when the teaching rejuvenates and energizes. There are so many ideas rambling around in my head waiting to come out on paper. The journey goes on. It was wonderful to work toward an exhibit with a set date in mind and although that date has come, I am reminded that there are so many next steps to take. I think if I ever feel as if I have arrived at my destination, I will pack up my pens and put my paints away. There is always something to explore, learn, research and try. I don't think I will time to ever be bored as I continue along this path. The Symbiosis II platform has lots of events that you can watch free of charge. I will be doing a pointed pen etching demonstration next week. The info is all on the website. You will also be able to meet the mentors and mentees and hear about their own personal journeys. I find the whole process to be fascinating and inspiring and hope you will enjoy the events as well.

If you are already thinking of Holiday Projects, you can join the presentation of Lettering for Holiday Projects free of charge. I will be presenting Victoria's Valentine in a style that is true to my heart and a delight to share. The details are all on the website. I am always so grateful for your support in my classes. The free presentations are my way of saying thank you and hoping you will find joy as you put pen or brush to paper. I feel your companionship on this journey. I love each note and email that comes to me. I love to see your work. I believe that the peace and joy that can be found in this type of work can make in difference in our own lives and the lives of others. Keep playing and keep taking steps on your own personal journey. Hugs all around. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Seasonal Rhythms

September is spinning by so quickly and I know this is my third post this month! Autumn is pensive but productive for me. I am working on my 2023 teaching schedule at the moment which is very full and will offer some long term study opportunities to my private students as well as a small online class. I will keep you posted on the details. But registration is now open for my fall classes. A Time to Refine will be this weekend through Acorn Arts.  This is a very different presentation for me as I work more on techniques and polishing skills and share some insights that have come from different inspirational sources. The preparation of this course made me realize how deeply I am affected by each season and the different rhythms they present. The sounds and smells of autumn are so different than the spring and summer. Walks take me through falling leaves and I hear the crunch of the leaves as I pass by. The nuthatches and their special song is the most prominent in the garden. I haven't heard the evening song of the robin for weeks now. The first bird in the morning is usually a blue jay and the last bird at night even as it gets dark is a cardinal. There are no more pink blooms in may garden but the leaves are changing colours and my orange and yellow marigolds are still blooming. Inspiration informs our work! I feel like I am being flooded with inspiration as I continue to do research and study for upcoming courses. One of the explorations of the offhand flourish has been a metallic grisaille technique and adding some subtle detail to the metallic with watercolour and coloured pencil. It takes much longer to build up the grisaille with metallic but the effects are so interesting. We will explore this in Time to Refine. 
Something as small as an acorn can bring so much delight with a bit of gold leaf and the pointed pen. Although I am eager to share this class, it is an advanced class. If you are looking a good foundational class in offhand flourishing that provides the opportunity for exploring seasonal rhythms with a sense of the fanciful, I will be teaching The Festive Flourish for the Gentle Penman next month. This flourishing class will take you through the basic strokes of offhand flourishing while leading you into more complex flourishes. When I started out in my flourishing journey, one of my greatest joys was creating a different Christmas flourish for everyone on my card list! I kept this up for years until my card list got too big but the practice was wonderful. We will even explore a larger flourish that can be reproduced as a Christmas card. The magic and joy of offhand flourishing can take you down the most wonderful path. 
In December, if you want to journey with me into the Enchanted Meadow at The Ardington School, I be delighted to share this dry brush watercolour illustration technique for you. There is a bit of drawing, gilding and painting involved in these miniature paintings as well as lot of imagination and opportunity to indulge your whimsical side. I will add a bit of a seasonal twist to this class but these meadow creatures can be part of any season. Even if you think the drawing part might be beyond your current skill set, I will be sharing design strategies with you that are easier than you can imagine. 

 My hope with this December class is that you will be able to go forward into the winter months with painting projects that bring a sense of joy and delight to a season that can sometimes feel dark.

I know there are a lot of classes coming up and there are so many wonderful classes for you to explore online. I appreciate your support so much and more than anything, I love to see the sense of joy and peace that these skills can bring to your life. The Enchanted Meadow has brought out so many whimsical stories and ideas from students. I see their skills skyrocket and surpass anything that I could dream or imagine. Back to your weekend dear friends! Thank you so much for reading, for sending emails and sharing your friendship with me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Savouring the Season

 The approach of autumn always makes me pensive. My senses are so aware of the changes in the air, the different sounds of the birds in the backyard and the fading blooms in the garden. This past summer I have  been aware of how I spend my time. If you really dive into the meaning of "spending time", you will realize there is a luxury in finding some available moments in each day. I have always been drawn to the wonder and beauty of nature, but with each passing season, I feel as if I can appreciate that beauty a little more deeply. I had a lot of intense time expenditures here in my studio these past few months. I have  been working with three mentees through The Art of Letters. Throughout the process I have been able to get to know these wonderful calligraphers as well as fellow mentors Gemma Black and Yukimi Annand.  We have worked together for about 6 months now and it has been wonderful to see their ideas come to life and watch them encourage each other. When I stared out in calligraphy, I was fortunate to have two mentors invest in me for several years. To this day, I am not sure why or how this happened but their teaching still comes into my heart as I work and and it comes through my voice when I teach others. Both Michael Sull and Brian Walker have played a huge role in my calligraphic journey. I feel blessed to be able to "pay it forward" and invest in others. We will be having an online interactive exhibit, discussions, and demonstrations September 24th to October 3rd. More information will be coming through The Art of Letters and I will post on my IG account as well. Watch for information about the exhibit called Symbisos II. One of my indulgent time expenditures throughout the end of Spring, Summer and now September, I has been taking quiet breaks on my garden swing. I will brew a cup of tea, grab a book and some peanuts to feed to the squirrels. There are three squirrels who now recognize me and will come close for their peanut. It has been such a delightful experience. When I worked on this letter, I wanted to capture the memories of Spring, Summer, September, Squirrels as well as Symbiosis. Symbiosis can be defined as a mutually beneficially relationship between different people or groups. The tiny delight of watching a squirrel reach for a peanut has blessed me and they sure seem to love it as well. 

I drew the design directly on my paper. The paper used for this piece is Fabriano Enhanced Artistico Paper. This paper is becoming my new favourite. The entire design is painted with my Winsor Newton Series 7 Miniature Size 1 brush. The vision of the design was a red letter, yet somehow I chose green. I was going to branch acorns and oak leave around the letter but somehow, flowers and acanthus leaves emerged instead. That is not overly surprising if you are familiar with my work! But the colour palette is a surprise. I guess the Seasonal Letter called for September colours.  The squirrel was built up with layers of dry brush watercolour and then a little white gouache was added to the tips of the ears.

 The initial is 6cm x 6.5 cm and was a delight to create from start to finish. 

Sometimes, no matter what the deadlines are or how quickly the days seem to be zooming by, it is important to take the luxury of slow time to experience the sights and sounds around you. Remember that each project that is in your heart and mind to do, deserves your best attention. I have many demands that pull at me constantly but I know I need to keep that stress and anxiety away while I work. Seasons come and go, and they each have a delight of their own. If you are yearning to take a break with a book, I hope you indulge! If have a whimsical project in your mind that you want to spend time with, I hope you dive in wholeheartedly. 
Find magic and delight in your work and as you watch the season unfold. Hugs all around. Thank you for your constant support and for taking the time to read the blog. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

A Season of Growth

 The calendar page has turned once again and September greeted me with sunshine and warmth. I have spent summer mornings in my garden, watching the birds and squirrels as they come to the feeders and taking some slow pauses to read.

Despite the little pause of my constant studio routine, I have felt a time of refreshing and growth. I patiently protected my Morning Glories this year so they would have a chance to bloom. They spent months behind a net so that the bunnies would give them a chance. Now they greet me with their vibrant colours. They have transitional colours  in them and delicate details that I am so grateful to see.

The garden will start to fade as the nights become cooler but I can honestly say that I took the time to appreciate the joys it had to offer this summer.

The research and reading I have been doing has launched me into so many areas of discovery. I watch as colours from Burne Jones' paintings start to influence my own colour choices. The stylized flowers of William Morris are becoming more and more ingrained in my thinking and you will see more of them in my work as time progresses. Although I usually dread the fall and winter season, I feel grateful for the summer growth. Each season has a beauty of its own and lessons we can glean.

I am constantly leaning into nature more deeply and appreciating the wonders of the seasons. I have lots of classes coming up as we go through the fall season. I will be teaching A Time to Refine through Acorn Arts later this month. This course will intentionally lead you along a path of growth and refinement in your flourishing skills. There is always so much more to learn and to know as we work with offhand flourishing and I can never teach it all in just one course. I hope that if you have studied with me in the past, you will find new truths and insights as I share my own avenues of growth with you. I want you to be able to use the flourish for all that it is worth and watch how it can bring skills that you never thought possible.  The process of refining skills, observing and really appreciating our journey has been on my mind for the past few months. We need a healthy respect for time. The clock and the seasons certainly don't slow down at all, but I am finding myself more mindful of the time needed to do my best work.

It may seem like a luxury not to rush, but in the end, I have found that it has been saving me time as I avoid corrections or even restarting a project. I hope that September brings you a joyful greeting and that you will take the time to observe its offerings. Do the work that is in your heart to do! There is such wonder on this journey. Appreciate the beauty that each day brings to you. Sending hugs to you all.Thank you for your constant support and your emails. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Thursday, August 18, 2022

A Time To Refine

 Here we are in the middle of August. I am still overjoyed to see my morning glories every day and enjoy the delights of the summer. Leaves are already turning colour in some spots here in Ontario, and my thoughts are turning a bit to the Fall Season. My fall Flourishing class for Acorn Arts is open for Registration. It is a class designed for those of you who have some offhand flourishing experience but want to refine skills and find ways to bring more magic to the flourish. There is a level you can achieve with offhand flourishing where the strokes are exceptionally fluid and the floral are filled with life and vitality. We can work on eliminating some hesitation with the thought process and bring a confidence to your flourish that you never thought possible.

 These days I am gleaning so much from the colours and inspiration of the Pre-Raphaelites and that will surely find its way into some of the colours I share in the upcoming autumn season. My ultimate goal is that you find joy with the flourish and find your way to picking up the pointed pen every day! If colour, sparkle and play seem like something you would like to incorporate into your flourish, I can't wait to share this with you. 

This course will be hosted through Acorn Arts and registration is now open. Ultimately, I hope to share skills with you that will bring your flourishes to a whole new level of refinement and expertise.

My philosophy for flourishing and growing as an artist has been through the natural world and I hope you will become more confident with floral and foliate flourishing and designs. I also want you to be mindful that the simple element of mindful time on task is part of the process of refining skills. Offhand flourishing is an acquired skill like any other. It is easier than you think with a broader range of possibilities than you can imagine. Thank you so much for all of your kind emails and sharing your beautiful work with me. It makes me so happy to see how the courses are helping you grow as an artist and find peace in the process.  Happy Mid August dear friends. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

P is for Patient Process

Just a quick post today as I will be taking a bit of a break for August. I hope to finally visit with my daughter and son-in-law. After Covid keeping us apart for 3 years, we are looking forward to seeing them. I still have some commitments with private students this month as well as preparing for an advanced flourishing class in September. I will post details for registration when they are available. The Gentle Penman have opened registration for The Festive Flourish on their site and our encore William Morris Flowers presentation is open for registration on the Ardington site.  I am really looking forward to these upcoming classes. This Spring and Summer, I have really enjoyed the thoughts and ideas of my private students. The greatest blessing is that we can explore any subject together. I don't have to commit to a specific course of study and I can take a deeper and slower dive into subjects that they are interested in. Some of my private students have requested Peacock studies in various formats. It has been funny how this is merging with my Pre-Raphaelite and William Morris studies. As I read and research my vision starts to get transformed. The work for this design transformed even as I began to sketch the lombardic P. My initial vision for this design was to create an Azure Blue P with simple florals inside the letter.

The Peacock was to rest on the lower exit curve of the initial. Many of my previous peacock explorations have been done in pinks, purples or blues. The inclusion of gold on the wing of this study was not expected when I drew my design. The colour and shape of the stylized poppy flowers are different that want I had envisioned for this design. Sometimes I am taken by surprise at what emerges on the paper and how far it diverges from my initial vision. The photo will not make this clear, but the tail feathers were first painted in quinacridone gold and then layered with Pthalo Blue, Viridian, Carbazole Violet, Smalt Blue and then Shell Gold. I used a Winsor Newton Series 7 miniature Size One brush for the entire design. The colours were unexpected.

 The process for this piece was so slow. I rarely put work aside once it has begun but this one was put aside several times so I could think about it before proceeding. I really had to be patient with this particular piece and let go of ideas that I had in the beginning. I finished the piece this evening and the final part of my process is to completely wash down my studio desk and put away all of the materials for this project. There is already a new idea in my mind and part of my process is to wash away the old project before I begin a new one. I have been doing this for years and it seems to work for me. You can see a bit of the mess of the desk in front of me and my mixing palette for the design. You can also see my initial rough sketch. I start simply and then refine the drawing on my watercolour paper before I start to paint the design. The little palette of gold is hand made Shell Gold. The making of the shell gold used in the design was also a long and patient process but such a delight to use.  

As artists we need to keep a rather loose grip on our projects. Allow them to wander away somewhat from your initial vision and see what emerges on the page. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful August wherever you are in the world. Thank you for all of the encouraging emails and photos of your work. I have loved seeing your work and hearing about your process. Stay patient and curious as you work. I will be cheering you on. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Unexpected Delays

 While I was greeting the month of August with a blog post my internet connection suddenly died. We started August 1st with the garbage truck hitting the cables attached to our house that connect our internet and phone. Here I am August 4th still without a connection. So I write hastily from a spotty connection but wanted to check in. The interruption and the close look at our utter dependency on the internet has been strange and frustrating. There is still tons of work to do in the studio but my usual method of research has changed out of desperation. I can't just conveniently look everything up online, visit the Victoria and Albert museum website or any of my illuminated manuscript sites online. But my bookshelf is getting a huge workout. I have actually read through the pages of my favourite books as I continue to work on the Flowers of William Morris class. The Ardington School will be running an encore presentation of the class and enrolment is now open although space will be limited. If you are interested in joining the class, you can register here.  I am continuing to study Pre-Raphaelite work as I prepare for this class. Some of the colour schemes are so intriguing and I can feel my palette changing as I work on the designs. I don't think William Morris would have approved of Schmicke Brilliant Purple, but pink will always be part of my work. 

 With or without internet, my morning routine is very special.  I am spending time each day in the garden and enjoying all of the blooms and the beauty that appears. Sitting in my garden swing beside the Japanese anemones, I can hear the bees buzzing. It is definitely music and so calming. I have baby bluejays and a family of orioles that visit daily and I find myself getting overwhelmed with just how beautiful nature can be. Beauty truly is everywhere, from the smallest observations of a petal or a leaf, or to the bright feathers of a blue jay. I played a bit with a whimsical feather and gilding design just to capture the magic. 

I just finished teaching Captivating Curves for The Gentle Penman online.

I am amazed at what I see the students creating and I am thrilled that I can be part of their journey. I talked about Core Skills for calligraphers. Lettering is always in the forefront of our work but there is so much more we can add to the page. Simple drawing skills, brush skills and adding a touch of gold leaf can elevate our work so much. Learning how to combine the letters and the decorative work is a lifelong journey and so rewarding. One of the books on my bookshelf is Walter Crane by Jenny Uglow.

One of the Walter Crane quotes that captivated me read" technical skill could give character, but beauty is not so easy to command." He goes on to say that beauty can be dependent on " a hair's breadth difference in the poise of a mass here, or a sweep of a curve there." When I dive deeply into that thought I realize how much he is saying. Even as I try to keep up with emails and letters with students asking what they can do next to improve, try to really let this sink in. Firm up the technical skills so you really have a command of the paper, inks, nibs, paints and your materials. But remember that honing those technical skills will be a lifelong journey of chasing beauty. It's never a race and there is no finish line. 

I hope that no matter what you have encountered so far in August, you will be able to find joy in the journey. Work with your hands, share what you love and love what you do. I may be slower to respond to email until this internet problem is corrected but I will catch up when I can. Happy August!

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Remembering Brian

 Four years ago yesterday, my friend and mentor Brian Walker passed away. I still feel his loss so acutely. When I am embarking on a new project, I still want to talk to him about or ask his advice. He was always so patient with my slow progress and constant questions. Time and experiences are so precious my dear friends. Cherish the moments that you have. Beyond penmanship and calligraphy, Brian was a gifted artist. He helped me to understand that there is so much more to our work than ink on paper. We need to understand and explore the mediums we work with. We must patiently craft our work. We must try and fail, but constantly learn and evolve. We had fascinating conversations as we both worked on our artwork. Brian would make his own ink and if the batch was not to his liking, he would discard it and start over. He would make his own gesso for gilding. He patiently crafted his recipe until it was perfect. Nothing was rushed. It took as much time as needed until he got the result he wanted. Although Brian was not a huge fan of flourishing, he would often include a leaf or two with a small flourish alongside his penmanship. He encouraged me to try to make my own gesso and gild small parts of my flourishes. Yesterday, I worked on a small flourish with a hint of gilding in it. I worked on different paper and tried to figure out how the papers reacted to my gesso.

I tooled the gold and then reflected on the piece. Over the course of the day, I redid the piece several times until I was happy with the result. Once again, this was true Brian Walker process. He was so precise with his vision and the work on the paper, that he would continually re-do his work until it was up to his standards. The final piece utilized a rendition of a John Ruskin quote. The quote has different variations but it is along the line of "If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the whole world." Brian was a member of the John Ruskin society and would often talk of Ruskin's work.

The quote not only reflects some of Brian's philosophy,  it has become a cornerstone of my own teaching as well. My email inbox gets a lot of traffic with inquiries from students who want to progress more quickly. They have very specific projects in mind and want to create masterpieces that match the vision that they have in their head. My advice is always to proceed with patience and with passion. Rather than speeding up the process, try slowing it down. It seems as if every day, I learn a bit more on this calligraphic journey each day at my desk. Skills will catch up to your vision. I wish so much that I could discuss William Morris ideas with Brian. We talked about Beatrix Potter but not William Morris. I am sure we would have interesting discussions. And I would love to show him my research ideas. I will always miss him, but his influence continues to shine with each class that I teach and each avenue that I explore. I am amazed at how much I recall his lessons and recognize them when the crop up in a workshop that I am teaching. I am so grateful to have experienced such a wonderful friend and mentor. I will never forget him. I wanted to take time and post what has been on my heart as I have been working in the studio this week. I have heard from several students trying to register for the William Morris class at Ardington that sold out quickly. We will run an encore presentation. If you are interested in being notified when that class opens up, please contact Gemma at Ardington to be added to the list. The lecture portion of the class will be conducted by Martin Beek who reminds me so much of Brian. I hope you have a wonderful week. Even if projects you are working on are not quite to your liking, don't be afraid to start over. Learn the lesson that each piece teaches you! Hugs all around!

Sunday, July 10, 2022

More Thoughts

 Here I am am on another beautiful Sunday morning and just overflowing with ideas and thoughts. I have been so busy preparing for new courses and refining techniques and the ideas just keep coming! The William Morris class at Ardington School is sold out but I am sure we will offer other courses that cover more William Morris content. He is just mesmerizing and his work is prompting more and more studies. His colour schemes are subtle and he has a very distinctive way of drawing flowers. I am learning so much with this fascinating look. The blue/green colour scheme is not one that I am normally drawn too but his influence is definitely finding a pathway into my work. There will be Morris insights in the Captivating Curves class for The Gentle Penman later this month. 

The acanthus leaf is an absolute staple in my work. Along side offhand flourishing and pink flowers, I don't know what I would do without them. From the first time I started to explore them, they have captivated my interest. Just like offhand flourishing, they can meander over your page and augment your script. They are capable of any twist and turn and can be any colour combination you can imagine. What is not to love? I can't wait to share the strategies of these leaves with you and I hope you will find so much to do with them. As I continue to study these leaves, more projects come to mind. For years, I painted cherubs and putti in acanthus settings but haven't played with them for awhile. My private students had other ideas and we are exploring them for the next couple of months. An idea for an illuminated page seemed to spring out of nowhere and I started playing on Friday. 
Seeing the glimmer of gold on the page and the dance of the acanthus is helping me bring this page to life. There is always so much of learn and so much to refine. My students keep spurring me forward into deeper and deeper territory. I am loving the challenge. I am 19 years into this calligraphic journey. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would use gold leaf on almost a daily basis. My first crude attempts at script lettering alongside awkward flourishing seemed like a perpetual uphill climb. But passion always spurs us forward as we refine our skills. This is a long process and we are always learning from our mistakes and our successes. The staples in my skill set along with a few script hands are offhand flourishing, drawing, painting and gilding. I work on all these skills and find ways to merge them together. I am getting lots of emails asking about my next courses. Please email me at for my teaching schedule. Ardington School has just posted my White Christmas class. This is a great start for flourishing! Cookie cutters are used as templates and the joy of the festive season offers endless possibilities to explore.

We will be using Bleedproof White on dark papers which is another key to improving flourishing skills. Even if you have never flourished before, this class will give you the skills you need. The Gentle Penman will be offering my Festive Flourishing class which has a bit more of a Victorian component to it and the flourishing is slightly more advanced. But the holiday season is the backdrop for both.

The class is not yet posted on the Gentle Penman website but will be coming soon along with a very special holiday painting class! I will have more to share soon but you will definitely see the William Morris influence alongside The Enchanted Meadow in that class. I hope you are finding joy on your journey whatever you are doing on this beautiful Sunday. Remember, that what we do with pen and ink can bring joy to others if we post it in the mail! This is such a special path and I hope you share your gifts. Happy July 10th dear friends!