Saturday, July 6, 2019


I am home briefly. I just returned from The International Calligraphy Conference Rendez-Vous in Sherbrooke, Quebec. It was a great experience and I was so glad to be part of an amazing faculty. Walks on the campus each day were significant.

There was so much to do and so much to prepare for. While taking a break from setting up the classroom, I found a chapel with a Cretan Labryinth near by.  The chapel had gorgeous stained glass windows and beautiful carvings. I walked to it daily and took time to pause in the quiet.

Walking the labryinth was more time for pause. I enjoyed the breeze, the sounds of the birds and the gorgeous green surroundings.  Quebec is beautiful. 

Returning home, I felt so grateful for those times to pause in the day. I know I write about this a lot but pause is as important as pursuit. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how much work there is to be done in a day, how much may be left undone at the end of the day and how busy life gets........pause. Breathe. Just be here now.  The pointed pen especially knows when you are anxious, rushed, or stressed. The breaks and the time for pause are necessary. Hope you are enjoying a beautiful July so far and are flourishing wherever you are. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Summer Study

 I have been extremely busy these past weeks and I find I get a bit out of sorts when I am away from the studio for long periods of time. Work gets put aside and sometimes forgotten and I feel like I lose momentum. One way that I recharge and re-align my sense of momentum is just by looking. My long time mentor Brian Walker taught me the value of observation as an important part of study. It's a sill that I honed in on during my botanical illustration course and now I am applying it in other ways. My study time has brought me back to the work of Daniel T. Ames. Daniel Ames is a long time hero of mine and his work is best seen in The Ames Compendium. You can also see one of his notebooks on What is fascinating about Ames is his broad range of styles and his notebooks show very different levels of expertise. Some of the work looks incredibly polished while other pieces look quite rough. This is the very purpose of a notebook, scrapbook or journal. Not all of our work will be our best. Some of it we shudder to let others see. But it is there to capture moments and provides prompts for us to remember key moments or ideas. I am constantly working in mine and love the process of just putting the pencil on paper. I dug out one of my journals from 2010. This one is filled with drawings for Enchanted Letter workshops that I have presented over the years.

The thoughts and techniques are captured on the paper even though the finished design is long gone somewhere. I still remember the process of design through the journal. Some of my pages are more polished than others. Some I wonder what I was thinking at all.
But every page taught me something and I am glad I have it to refer back to.
I tend to go overboard with study. I love learning, honing skills and practicing. But summer schedules can be hard to keep up with. Life can be overwhelming at any season and time can escape no matter what our intentions are. One way you can take some pressure off yourself is just capturing ideas, thoughts or sketches in a journal. Just let it be what it is without a specific goal or study routine. Whether you work in pencil or ink like Daniel Ames, just have the freedom to explore ideas. Pencil practice translates into skills with the pen so don't worry if your journal never sees ink.  If you keep the journal to refer back to, great. If you toss it out at the end of the book, that's great too. It did what it was supposed to do. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

There is another alphabet......

I stumbled upon this quote the other day and it just seemed perfect for flourishing. I will continue to experiment with these words. Inspiration is everywhere in Spring! From the new buds on trees and branches to the green grass that seems to get a bit brighter every day and the songs of the birds in the yard.  No matter how busy life gets, I am trying hard to notice the details and the little bright spots of beauty in each day. Happy Flourishing.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Magic of April

I love Spring. Every day is a new beginning. Every day offers a new sight and the songs of the birds are back in full swing! This is my favourite time of year. It doesn't matter how rainy it is, how dreary the skies can be or how soggy the ground is....Spring is here. Blossoms will come, the leaves will return to the trees and the longer days of sunshine are coming back. As I continue to work in my studio on more projects than I can list at the moment, I try to savour the small things that I see around me. Even the beauty of the new growth that is emerging from tulip bulbs or the rose bush causes me to stop and just enjoy. Seasons of life go flying by at an ever-increasing speed it seems. Slow down and just observe the beauty that is around you! Wherever you may be on your artistic or calligraphic journey, don't rush. You are right where you should be, enjoy the journey at every stage and in every season.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Enchanting March

The calendar has changed to March and that always means an increase in activity for me. My travel schedule launches this week and doesn't let up until November. I am used to this by now but it still catches me by surprise. My desk is overflowing with work. I am happy to be so busy, but still trying to find time to study some new techniques. I never stop being curious no matter how much "real work" I have to do.
 The images in this post will be shared in upcoming workshops. I have been busy revising my workshop handouts as some techniques have changed and I keep coming up with new ideas.
The redwork Enchanted Letter D is reminiscent of my days as an embroiderer. I used to do a lot of redwork designs and wanted to create a fairly simple initial in one colour. I put a light wash of Interference red watercolour over the pen flourished butterfly. Sometimes it is nice to keep your colour palette very simple.
The Enchanted Letter B uses all of my usual techniques. I was testing Caran D"Ache Museum Aquarelles in this piece and really love the vibrant colours. 
The Enchanted Meadow bird was a little exploration in a slightly different painting technique. I will continue to explore the technique and refine it further. Hope March brings you sunshine and flowers! Here in Canada, the snow is melting and Spring must be getting ready to visit.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Quick post

Just taking a few minutes to touch base with my blog. I appreciate the email messages I get from you and the feedback to the posts. Right now, I am so busy in the studio but feeling grateful for the work. I am about to launch into my busy travel schedule and booking in to 2020 and 2021 at the moment! I am working hard as wellon a  new workshop release in drawing, painting and gilding Acanthus ornamental designs. It should be fun! I always find it quite enlightening to try and figure out how to put my process into words.

It will be interesting to see how it all unfolds. I learn so much in the process of creating the classes and I love to dive into study and research.
I also had the tremendous pleasure to work on a special anniversary Enchanted Letter commission for someone that I met through the blog! It was a pure delight to work on this project. This piece will be incorporated into a lace wreath for her anniversary celebration. The artwork pictured at the top is the original design and the two others are prints of the original. The prints and the orignals are all gilded with 23K gold leaf as well as touches of Shell Gold. Of course, I had to add Swarovski crystals!
It is such a tremendous honour to work on pieces for special celebrations. I have so much fun, this never feels like work to me! Happy February everyone! 

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Welcome January

 Happy 2019 dear friends! I am having a bit of a late start getting my blog updated, but wanted to send out a New Year Greeting.
I do believe that there is a magic in beginnings! I hope your New Year started out well and that you enjoyed a wonderful holiday season. I don't feel as if I took much of a holiday break but I love being busy and hard at work. Lots of commissions as well as some big projects are on the horizon and I will keep you updated. My 2019 teaching schedule is available if you email me. I will be visiting lots of Canadian locations this year which is always exciting for me. I have kept most of April and May free from travel so I can work with more private students. If you are interested in talking to me about the possibility of a private course of study, just email me at for details.
I am not really big on New Year's Resolutions but I do like to set goals. One of my thoughts this year is to be more appreciative of the friendships I have cultivated over the years and to be sure to write to people as they cross my mind. I used to do this as a regular practice every Sunday but slowly, other things began to take over my time. This year, I do hope to keep up with my correspondence.
Enjoy a wonderful weekend and hope you find time to relax with  your pen and ink! Big hugs all around.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Sending Joy!

During these busy days before Christmas, I wanted to stop in and wish you all the best for this season.  This year, my Christmas card was painted with watercolour and gilded with 23K gold leaf.  I had so much fun with the letter designs in this card.

I also want to share my youtube video with you. If you feel like sitting and watching, the video is just over eleven minutes and will show the process of creating a bell flourish from start to finish. Grab your favourite holiday beverage and relax for a few minutes. Sending you hugs, best wishes for the upcoming year and my sincere gratitude for all of you who take the time to check in on my blog. You are such a blessing to me. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

December Thoughts

This is always a busy month for me. Although I can breathe and rest from my travels there are always so many last minute orders that I try to take care of before Christmas. I also work hard at getting my Christmas cards sent out during the first week of December but still have a few to complete. This year's envelopes were done on Comet Blue. I will show the card design later on.
Even though there are lots of tasks to complete, I try to enjoy the charm of the season and dash off some flourishes as time allows. 
I still prefer to use bleedproof white as my ink on dark papers. It stands the test of time and stays bright on the paper without losing its intensity.  I have been experimenting a bit with a modern Hunt 101 nib. I have been pleased with the quality control so far and I do enjoy the flexibility of the point. It's nice to know that there is a serviceable modern nib beyond the chrome nibs that are readily available.
I was able to attend the November illumination class with Debbie Thompson Wilson at the Ancaster Old Town Hall. It is a Christmas tradition for me and I love to attend as many as Debbie's classes as I am able to. This time she proved Saunders Watercolour paper for us and it was quite nice to work on. 

Early in November, Reggie Ezell launched One on One calligraphy sessions on his website and I jumped at the chance to study Carolingian with him.  Over the years, I have not had a lot of success with broad edge hands. They just did not capture my heart the way pointed pen hands have done. But Carolingian has a whimsical quality that is very enticing. And studying one on one with Reggie has been so helpful. He is a patient and careful instructor and knows his subject so well.  I have heard so many wonderful testimonials from his students who have been part of his year long study courses that when I finally met him online, he felt like a lifelong friend. Since beginning my Carolingian studies with him in November, I have wanted to pick up the broad edge pen every day. I was able to complete lots of study pages during our 4 sessions, and so far I have completed two finished pieces with another one waiting to be completed on my desk. I think this whimsical Carolingian hand has found a permanent place in my heart. My mentor and dear friend Brian Walker often tried to introduce broad edge hands to me. He spent many months trying to show me foundational hand and I remember having so many struggles with the broad edge nib. One of the last conversations Brian and I had online was him encouraging me to try italic calligraphy. I will be doing some Italic studies with Reggie in the new year and I can sense that Brian would be so pleased that I did not give up on the broad edge hands. He definitely planted a lot of seeds of encouragement and I feel like Reggie is watering those seeds.

Both painted pieces that are pictured here were done on offcuts of 90lb. Arches Hot Press paper which Reggie recommended as good practice paper. If you want to try your hand at broad edge I would highly recommend Reggie's site as a wonderful place to begin. He also has instructional dvd's for the broad edge hands that he teaches if you are nervous about online lessons. The dvd's are a wonderful resource.
Finally, in keeping with the season, I am doing a draw giveaway through my instagram and facebook feed. If you are interested in being included in the draw, just send me an email at I will do the draw on Tuesday December 11th. Sending hugs all around and hope you enjoy the beauty of this season.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Enchanted November

Getting an early start on completing orders this festive season and was honoured to create one of my classic Enchanted Letter designs. I get many letter requests but this is my first time doing a request for the intial Z. I completed two different versions of Z for my Enchanted Letter Series when I designed it 2011, but this is the first time experimenting with the elongated version of Z. As always, the Enchanted Letter begins with a detailed pencil sketch. I used my beloved Leuchturrn 1917 journal for the sketch. I prefer the quality of the paper in the Leucthturrn 1917 over the Moleskine journal. It is fun to keep the designs in the journals for future reference. I love to look back on what I have done. They often trigger lovely memories.  My students know that rather than reusing a design I have done before, I start each intial with a fresh sketch.
The next part of the process is the inking and gilding of the design. I had a particularly good bottle of McCaffery Brown to use for this design. I love the chestnut brown colour of McCaffery. Other suitable inks are Ziller Buffalo Brown and Fox and Quill's Victoria Ink. I have also been experimenting using Daniel Smith Sepia Watercolour which works beautifully. 
The paper for this Initial Z is Stonehenge Aqua 140 lb. This paper has replaced Fabriano Artistico and Arches 140 lb Hot Press for me. The only draw back I have found with this paper is that it can be reluctant to erase. I have to use a very light touch with a HB or H pencil when doing the transfer drawing.  
The final piece was gilded with 23K gold leaf, outlined in Japanese Shell Gold and painted with Daniel Smith Watercolours. Swarovski Aurora Borealis Flat back crystals were applied for extra sparkles! I continue to love these Enchanted Letters after working with them all these years. If you want more info about commissioning your own letter, please contact me at I will do future posts about how these can be integrated with an Enchanted Meadow creature. I teach this class frequently throughout the year to guilds as well as privately through facetime or Skype. I am also working on a Treasury book of the designs as well as the process in intricate detail. Lots going on!! I hope you find lots of time to work on personal projects as we go toward a busy festive season! Remember to breathe!! And find times of quiet contentment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Butterflies In October!

Taking a deep breath and enjoying a meditative moment this afternoon. The task list today is overloaded, but the joy of seeing a butterfly in the garden on such a chilly day caused me to take a needed pause and appreciate the beauty around me. October light is elusive. It illuminates differently. It captures the edges of plants a little differently and changes my perspective. I took a walk around the garden this afternoon with my camera. I can hear a different sound in the trees as the leaves dry out and fall. But the blessings of squirrels, birds, blossoms and chipmunks are still around. Just taking a moment to share these little garden shots. I was so happy to see butterflies visiting briefly.

Friday, October 5, 2018

October is Here

I can hardly believe Octobet is here already! Autumn is a very transitional season for me. I am wrapping up my teaching engagements for the season. I worked on these two letter designs for my dear friends who hosted me while I visited California.

One more workshop to teach here in Ontario next weekend before I break for the season. I will continue to take some private students through the winter months but I am doing some in depth projects as well.  I will update the blog with that info as I progress with it. I wanted to show you some shots of the studio so far. At this point, my walls are still bare. I have been loving the open space and don't want it to get too cluttered.

 The walk to my studio is about 20 feet from my back door.

Right now there is  patio rocking chair in there. When Chris comes home from work, he sits with me and has a coffee while I finish up work at my desk. The desk in the back corner is a light table that Chris made for me.  It is so good to have space to spread out.

For the past 30 years my studio space has been little more than a glorified closet. Very tight on space, but it did the job for me!I know I have written about this before. A studio is a place of study. More than just creating, it is where so many streams of thought and ideas converge. Sometimes it is a refuge of quiet. Sometimes it hosts a frenzied pace of work. Sometimes it is there for pure play and experimenting. At all times, I am so grateful to have this space. Whatever space you have, remember that it is a sacred place. What we do as artists, what we create, and how we reach people is more than just the final result on paper. The whole process is sacred, even the failures or the plateaus we reach at times. Whatever stage of the journey you are on....just keep going! See what happens when you work. Take time out to sit and breathe. Appreciate the quiet moments in between the busy ones. And do what you love to do! This weekend is Canadian Thanksgiving! I am so grateful for my family, my friends and my work. Sending autumn hugs your way!