Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Studio in September

It already feels like fall here in Ontario, Canada. A drive through Cambridge yesterday showed lots of  maple trees showing their early autumn splendour. It is a gorgeous time of year although I always difficulty as the last of the summer blooms in the garden start to fade. This year, the morning glories were really late to bloom as our friendly neighbourhood group of bunnies must have thought the seedlings were delicious. But the bunnies are so cute, we forgave them instantly.

I thought I would show you a few shots around the studio today. The best morning light hits my studio window around 8:30 AM these days and starts my solar power rainbow maker. I love to see the  light dancing around the room and the sound that it makes is very gentle and peaceful. It is one of my favourite parts of the day.

My view from my desk is my meditation garden, the bird feeders and the bird bath. I continue to work in silence for the most part with the windows open so I can hear the birds. Sometimes the backyard is a bit too inviting and I take a break on the garden swing with a book. I restock the feeders with peanuts and the bluejays and squirrels are in the garden to entertain me within a few minutes. It's amazing how energized I get through the quiet and calm of the garden. I am always so thankful for this oasis.

 I believe I mentioned in a previous post how influential Randall Hasson's class at IAMPETH was for me. He really opened my eyes to so many possibilities and I have been in research mode ever since.  It's amazing when a one day class can have such a long lasting impact.
 Research for me is a winding road. I go off as many bunny trails as I can find and then a lightbulb just goes on for me. My path lately has taken me deep into Medieval Manuscript study, Typography of the 20's and 30's, Vintage Lettering styles and Art Nouveau influences. All roads for me eventually lead back to the Victorian Era and I am taking a fresh look at some very old things! It has been a wonderful summer journey and it will likely stretch way into the New Year and longer. I can't wait to show you some of the things I am diving into as I get ready to launch some new classes. Right now I will give you a peek at some Victorian style Versal Letters I have been working on.

Last July, my dear friend Brian Walker passed away. I have missed him so much but his influence over my thinking process remains. He always told me to study as much as I practice. Those words have really become my mantra as I teach others. Study is never wasting time. It is helping to inform your practice as well as kick starting the inspiration process. My words of advice in this post would be that if you feel a bit stuck in your work or your practice time seems like it has hit a plateau, change gears and take some time to study. Look at things that inspire you, read something that brings you joy, take a walk and study nature, observe your surroundings and breathe the air of the new season you are in. Don't fight against that plateau, just change your perspective about it and see what happens as a result.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August Already!!!!

Why does the summer fly by so quickly???? I am loving being home for a few weeks before starting up my final travels for fall. I am catching up on commission work as well as doing new exemplars for my Festive Flourish class.  I can share a peek at a commission I just completed.
I have a few more illuminated initials to do and will share them when they are completed. I enjoyed flourishing this butterfly piece which was donated to the IAMPETH silent auction.

 IAMPETH was a wonderful experience. The highlight of the conference for me was taking a class with Randall Hasson. We explored lettering from the 20's and 30's which included using Speedball A, B, and D nibs. Of course I had these treasures in my collection but I left the class with a real appreciation for what these versatile nibs could do. Randall is a wonderful teacher! I would jump at an opportunity to study with him again in the future.

 Once I got home I spent time researching these nibs as well as the styles of lettering from the 20's and 30's.  It will be nice to see where this leads. I will end the blog post with a few shots from my garden. The day after I returned from IAMPETH I put on gardening gloves and tackled the weeds. I enjoyed every minute of it! Great to be home. Great to enjoy the splendor of nature, even if it includes weeds.

The yellow rose was taken at the Denver Botanic Gardens. If you are ever able to visit there, I highly recommend it. What a gorgeous botanical garden. The monarch butterfly photo was taken in my Mom and Dad's garden.

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.