Friday, June 1, 2018

Surface Thoughts

June rushed in with a blaze of heat and blossoms. The leaves on the trees are bright green and there is new growth everywhere around me. I love these days. While I hear so many complaints about heat and humidity, I cherish every warm minute as a blessing. I am more productive in these sunny days and wake up happy each morning to the sounds of the robins and cardinals.

I have been busy testing numerous watercolour papers. My friend Gretchen gave me a variety of papers to test and I found some that I love. I have been enjoying working on the Stonehenge Aqua 140 LB Hot Press paper for Enchanted Meadow pieces as well as watercolour studies and coloured pencil botanicals. Seems a good surface, although I wish the colour of the paper was just a bit brighter. One paper that Gretchen gave me to test was Lana Lanaquerelle 140 lb Hot Press paper. I also found that I really enjoyed this paper. A beautiful bright white, takes ink, watercolour and gilding beautifully. I still need to test it with coloured pencil, but this seems like a wonderful paper. So glad to have tried it.  Thank you Gretchen!!! I have also added Canson Moulin Du Roy 140 lb Hot Press  to my favourites for all of my techniques. I think these three papers will meet all of my needs for future projects. Of course, I still keep vellum nearby for my most precious projects and Strathmore Bristol Vellum Surface paper for the times when a client needs a less expensive alternative. Good to know there are choices available in papers. The photo is a a grouping of some of my various tests I did to see how different techniques performed on different papers.  Still so much to learn and study. I am grateful for each hour I am able to spend with these various art forms. 
 On the desk this past month were some preparations for my upcoming Victorian Pen workshop. The Victorian Pen class incorporates offhand flourishing as well as more drawn/pen rendered flourishes that incorporate pencil work. Some of my private students have requested this as an option for their studies with me and I am enjoying working individually with them. 


I am also catching up on pen orders and able to have stock ready as time allows me to paint and dye pens. The best way to obtain a Held Pen these days is at one of my classes or by emailing me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com to see what is available. I let the season influence me as I create new designs for pens. 


Whatever this month brings to you, I hope you can find some time to walk along a quiet stream and listen to the sounds of the birds. Let nature charm and intrigue you as this season surrounds you. Cherish these days.


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Observation

The page of the calendar is turned to May today!!!! May will carry me to Atlanta, Georgia for my presentation of The Enchanted Meadow workshop! I love teaching this class. It is part of my heart and soul and I get so excited at the thought of teaching it. At the core of the class, beyond painting skills and learning how to construct intricate acanthus patterns, is the instruction about slowing down to observe the moment. Be here now. Be mindful of the time that passes each day. Observe your surroundings as you walk in nature. Look everywhere. Let nature be your teacher. This time of year is so exciting as Spring hopefully starts to wake up the earth. Yesterday I saw my first butterfly in the backyard!As artists, observation is as important as painting, drawing or writing skills. We must be able to look deeply at a subject and take in all that is has to teach us. Looking foward to sharing many newly awakened insights with my Atlanta class.
  My latest Enchanted Meadow project was an illuminated inital for my Dad's 80th birthday.
The owl took hours of dry brush work, but the process was so peaceful and meditative that the hours flew by.
I also had the opportunity to take another illumination class with Debbie Thompson Wilson. We worked on birds from the Sherborne Missal.  My study was the female sparrow.
I plan to do a few more studies from that Missal as well as paint more of the birds that are visiting our feeders this spring! Happy observing. Enjoy each moment.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Love is Patient

The calender has been turned to its April page and assures me that Spring has arrived. But the days are still cold, the windshield is frosted in the morning and my walking treks still require my winter coat. And yet I wait and believe that Spring will come. It always has! Thankfully, my studio is warm and cozy and my desk invites me to work everyday. I have been pensive these days as I am launched back into travel. I have several new private students who are full of eagerness and questions. I have even been able to connect online with a few people who want to study The Enchanted Meadow designs. The slow methodical dry brush method of painting is a joy to share with others. I look foward to sharing this workshop with a new group of students in Atlanta! I am working on a very special Enchanted Meadow piece for my Dad's 80th birthday this month. SHHH!!!!!!! Don't tell him!


Despite lots of new projects, and continually changing hats to prepare for the next class, I find myself quite pensive for the past and some of my old working methods. I came to the calligraphy scene in 2003. There were very few videos online. I viewed Dr. Joseph Vitolo's script videos over and over again while I was learning. I made my way to my first IAMPETH convention in 2003 where I forged some of the strongest friendships of my life. Practice was daily and solitary. I still have some journals where I would practice writing quotes and verses in Spencerian Script. Progress was slow but never a chore for me to practice.  Things have changed in the calligraphic world. There is calligraphic overload online of every sort of style, and no shortage of ideas and opinions. You can fill your eyes with so many images of accomplished calligraphic work, look in on people's working methods and be constantly nudged to buy more and more products for our work. There are some days that I love this and other days that I am very unsure of what I see.  The calligraphic arts, like all arts, require a patient build up of skill. The art requires carefully honed senses and intuitive instincts about subtle nuances in letterforms. I learned the hard way and still learn on a daily basis. I make mistakes, fill up the recycle bin with practice papers and artwork that is not quite right, and try again. Patiently and lovingly I report for work at the studio desk and attempt to accomplish the day's tasks. I am grateful for the time spent with my calligraphic mentors who encouraged me along my path. I am thankful that this inkstained journey is such a big part of my life. My email inbox is at a point where it now takes me a few days to answer all the emails I receive. This blog post is for the impatient ones who want to quickly conquer this artform. I encourage you to continue to be patient. Show up at the desk ready to work and understand that there really are no shortcuts. This is hard work and acquiring skills comes at a different pace for different people. As hard as this may be to do, try not to compare your work to the work of others. Take a time out from instagram video feeds and look inward for a little while as you work on your next goal.Did I mention be patient yet??? Don't rush this! Savour the moments you have on this journey as you explore each twist and turn. I will jump down off my soapbox now with this little flourish.  I picked up some Fabriano Rosapina paper during my recent trip to the art store.
The paper is quite textured and it is extraordinarily soft. It requires a light touch with the pen and patience as you try to coax the best possible results from the paper. It forces patience  but was a treat to watch as the flourish evolved on the paper. From my heart to yours on this first day of April 2018, I encourage you to be patient with yourself on this journey.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Strathmore Toned Tan Paper

Every time I use Strathmore papers, I love them more and more. I have really enjoyed their 400 series drawing paper because is it a delicate cream colour, can take light watercolour washes and gilding really well and holds a beautiful ink line. It is a wonderful paper. I have also been doing some experimenting on Kraft paper, Strathmore Toned Tan and Strathmore Toned Grey papers. There are some really interesting effects you can get on these papers. None of them can take a very heavy ink stroke. Although the ink doesn't feather at the edges, it doesn't hold a tight line the way we would like. But in combination with some delicate Faber Castell Polychromos and a touch of bleedproof white, it provides an interesting background to both flourishing and ornamental design work. I will keep experimenting and see what happens next. March is here and time seems to pick up speed. I am booked with travel all the way into 2020!!! I always seem just a little bit behind the next looming deadline but I will try to stay positive. Watch the season of Spring emerge and look foward to the changes it brings.



Thursday, February 8, 2018

February Care

Here in Ontario, Canada, we have had week after week of icy weather, lots of grey skies and lots of snowfall. Bright blue sky days are scattered here and there but the continual grey of winter can play with the soul of an artist. I take measures to keep smiling! One thing I do is surround myself with colour. I take trips to the butterfly conservatory to see the magic of colour in the air! It is restorative to hear the waterfall flowing, see flowers blooming, watch birds in flight and so many butterflies. An extra few trips there in the winter are very helpful.



Inside the studio, I am keeping lots of flowering plants in sight. I am working through a graphite module in botanical illustration so I need to have lots of subjects to draw. The added benefit of having blooms on my desk everyday has been so restorative. When I worked as a florist, I encouraged people to bring home flowers every week especially in the winter. When I got out of the business, I started to neglect my own advice. But these bright blooms have been such a welcome sight. I have had Paperwhites, Amaryllis, Muscari, Freesia and Narcissus greeting me on the desk these past few weeks. Even studying the root systems of the plants keeps me connected to the earth and the promise that spring is coming.
Finally, when I do find some extra time to send out a letter or mail out a packet to a student, I am choosing happy colours to use. As an artist, I need to see colour. When it fails to appear outdoors, do your best to bring it indoors.  Keep thinking happy thoughts as we wait for spring to appear!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Magic of Inspiration

This April, I will be teaching at the Ink Links Sampler in Guelph, Ontario.
As soon as I heard the theme of Harry Potter I was overwhelmed with inspiration. I will be teaching "Fainting Fancies"

....which will be fanciful, embellished Roundhand Capitals done entirely in Pen and Ink. And, I will be teaching "Flourish and Blotts"
, a course in offhand flourishing. It will be a whirlwind day. I am currently working on the notes for both classes. Harry Potter, always makes me think of owls, so my artwork so far has been rich with owl imagery. I have really enjoyed the slow process of just stippling, or hatching with ink on paper. Sometimes it just takes a word, to spark some inspiration. Often after Christmas, I go through the doldrums of trying to get fully back into work mode. I am thankful that this year, it passed quickly as I have so much to prepare for in the coming days. I am thankful for work to keep me occupied and students who are eager to learn.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcome 2018

The first day of the New Year is always a bit disorienting for me. I try to look ahead to all that needs to be done while trying not to carry forward too much from 2017. I update all my calendars to look over the upcoming year while trying not be overwhelmed. I always need to remember it is just one day at a time and to treat each day as its own unique experience. I hope to have lots to share with you in the upcoming weeks. The pictures on the post today are of my final projects of December. The first is my thoughts as I worked quietly away on Christmas Eve
and the second is my piece for New Year's Eve.
I hope 2018 is both peaceful for you and filled with opportunities for you to believe in your dreams. Welcome 2018!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

December in Pink

 December days are flying by at an alarming speed. I am further behind on my tasks than I want to be, but I that seems to be how I work! I wanted to share some pink joywith you. My Christmas 2017  Festive Flourish is online on my youtube channel.  Thank you for following the blog and taking time to email me. You have brightened my days for me this year and I amd grateful to you. I have met some friends through this blog. Some dear people have met me in my workshops and have told me that they appreciate the blog posts. Thank you for your kindness!!! I hope you can enjoy some December tranquil moments!


Thursday, November 30, 2017

This and That

November is just a blink now. It seems like the month barely started and now it is over. I have my Christmas envelopes addressed and ready to send so I am in good shape there. I have lots of work in front of me to do and I am determined to catch up on things. My online presence may be less than usual but I will do my best to keep my blog updated. If you are interested in my teaching schedule for 2018 please email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com and I will send it out to you. 2018 is filled to capacity and I have bookings all the way into 2020 which seems so far off!

I spend less time in the house these days and more in the studio which is fully functional now. When I do come into the house, Oscar is always willing to help me take photos! I think he misses being by my side while I work, but I have to say, I am getting more work done with fewer distractions.
I completed my final module of a botanical art class that has been done through correspondence with a tutor in England. It has been a wonderful experience. The studies of botanical art have improved my observation skills. I still have so much to learn about watercolour, paper, drawing etc but I feel like I am equipped with more tools to get me to my end goal. Of all of the botanical studies I have been doing, I seem to prefer painting fruits and vegetables to actual flowers. Shopping for groceries takes so much longer as that whole produce section is brimming with potential future painting studies. I will continue to pursue these studies as time allows.
Hope you have had wonderful November. This last photo is my most recent commission.  I will end up keeping this one for myself and redoing this on larger paper. I used a paper that I was not happy with. It is Strathmore Bristol Vellum paper and while good for ink work, it doesn't hold the depth that I want for the watercolour work. I always keep in mind that mistakes teach us something. Just learn the lesson and move on. 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Welcome November

I hope this doesn't seem like I am rushing the holiday season. Far from it...I want to slow it down. I love the sparkle, the joy and the time to work!
The festive season for me means rest from my travels, time to think, time to catch up and time to observe. I love the lights, the colours and the ridiculous overstatement of ornament that surrounds this season. I am not a fan of the cold or the approaching winter, but I do love the way my internal clock can be reset and I can change my pace. I don't get caught up in the frantic pace that seems to surround so many at this time of year. I really slow down and allow myself time to reflect. I don't mind the 45 minute drive to the closest Starbucks to get my seasonal Peppermint Mocha! I will be taking some time to catch up on my writing and hopefully finish some long overdue projects! Whatever your pace as you glance at the calendar each day, I hope you find some time for yourself. I hope you find some quiet time, to put your feet up, relax and just breathe!

Friday, October 20, 2017

Sacred Time, Sacred Space

I get very reflective as I watch the seasons change.
 I wish it would always be spring and summer. Fall is ok, but it is a harbinger of winter which is my least favourite season. I am sad to watch the vibrant greens in the garden wither to brown and then fade away. But I have been learning to savour all time and all space around me. Whether I am rushed and trying to cram too many things into my schedule or if I am quiet room and alone with my thoughts there is something to learn, something to see, something to savour.
This spring we embarked on building me a permanent studio outdoors.
Dedicated space for me to work, surrounded by the garden, the birds and the sound of the trees.My goal is to keep it free from the computer and cell phone. So far I am winning that battle, but we will see what evolves.
I feel so incredibly blessed to have this space. It still feels like a dream. Chris insisted on a glass railing for the deck so I can see through it when I am working at my desk.  The folding table from the gazebo served as my workstation until my furniture arrived.
My commute to my studio is about 40 feet away from the door of my house. I wanted to share a special photo with you. The little prisms dancing on the wall are from a solar rainbow maker. Chris and I first came across this little magical surprise when we rented a cottage a few years ago. I have wanted one ever since, but knew that the device would drive Oscar crazy. It seems like such a small thing, but for about an hour each morning, when the sun hits the rainbow maker, my studio seems blessed with a magical dance of light. It brings me such a spark of joy.
The last photo for now is of my desk in place. The studio is still quite bare but it feels like home. I want to run out there every morning and enjoy the quiet space. I have so many projects to catch up on and it feels like an exciting new beginning. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Fluid 100 Hot Press Watercolour Paper


At my last workshop, I was given some samples of watercolour paper to test out. The first on my list was Fluid 100 Hot Press paper. This is very affordable paper and I wanted to try some out but had not yet placed an order. I am so grateful to Gretchen for sharing some of this lovely paper with me. I am currently testing it for gilding, inking, erasing, dry brush and wet on wet glazing technqiques. Across the board I would give it high marks. It gilds brilliantly. The shine of the gold is brilliant on this paper. I was able to erase lines easily and inking with McCaffery Brown was as expected on this paper. No surprises. I can build up lots of detail with dry brush techniques. Layer after layer went into the owl and the paper is wonderful for holding tiny details.
   When I tried wet on wet techniques for the apple leaf, I did not stretch the paper. I applied washes liberally on the small surface. There was very slight buckling of the paper but as the glazes dried, the paper flattened. The washes soak into the paper and I think the paint dulled slightly more than I am used to. I tried lifting out the veins and the highlight of the leaf and had some success with that. I will continue to layer the leaf with more glazes and dry brush. I like what I see on this paper and think it is defintlely worth investing in. I will try a full engrossed project on this paper and report back. Thank you Gretchen! Love this paper!

Monday, September 18, 2017

September Days

It seems like I am in a relentless race with the clock. Days pass quickly into weeks and then months. We are in September and it seems like just a breath since I was planting my garden in Spring. I don't know where the time goes.  I have so many projects that await completion. Sometimes it gets so frustrating to leave things undone to hit another deadline. But new classes are in the works for 2018. I will be releasing a border flourishing class called Line Dances and I will be including this new chapter in the flourishing book that I am still working on!
My apologies if I am slow to answer emails these days. I have been spending less time on the computer and keep my head in my artwork. I promise to answer as I can. Hope that no matter how busy your schedule is becoming that you can find time to breathe and watch the changing season.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

From My Bookshelf

I can't believe its been a month since my last post. Lots has happened! Working hard here at home as well as getting ready for my last few workshops of the year. My time in Hong Kong was a whirlwind. I met so many wonderful and eager students. I have memories to cherish of that wonderful trip.



Good to be home, unpacked and finally over jet lag! I am taking some time to go over my sagging bookshelves. Soon I will be moving my library into my new studio space. I need to go through all of my books and figure out what I need to keep and what I need to pass on. I have been studying botanical art for the past two years or so. I have so much to learn and I love where the botanical path is taking me. Mary Ann Scott's Botanical Sketchbook is so inspiring.
This book highlights the amazing journey of a student working through the SBA Distance Education Course. Mary Ann's struggles as well as her triumphs are recorded. It provides insight into her working process through her sketchbook recordings. What strikes me as I read throug it is that all of us have lightbulb moments. Skill evolves over time and with practice. The same is so true of our calligraphic journey. I know I repeat this message so many times but the point needs to be emphasized. As I take on the role of student in this botanical journey, my sense of awareness is changing. I see things differently and this affects how I attempt my calligraphic work. I want to encourage those who want to progress in their calligraphic journey but feel that they cannot invest time into any other art form. That couldn't be further from the truth. My time as a florist as well as my time as a needleworker effect my work as a calligraphic artist.
It is ok to invest your time, talent and treasure in other disciplines. Many of my calligraphic friends are also musicians, painters, athletes, voracious readers, quilters, and the list goes on and on. Follow your heart where it leads you. Embrace the view from as many angles as possible. Happy August 24th!