Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Softly September

 It seems I start most of blog posts marvelling that another calendar page has turned.


2020 is a remarkably strange year but in its own unique way has brought things that I am so grateful for. Summers are usually my busiest time. This summer, I have been home and not far from my studio and garden. I have seen the garden grow, watched bunnies eat my beets and roses and enjoyed all kinds of sparrows splashing in the bird bath. The slow and mindful mornings have been a welcome pace. I feel as if I have really experienced the season and that is such a blessing. 


Here in my studio, I have been able to write to people as their letters arrive in the post. I have received beautiful envelopes and notes. The words from friends are so cherished as I know it might be quite some time before our paths cross again in person. 

I have been working on commissions, pens, private tutorials for students and soon will launch some larger courses online. One of the first courses I will be presenting online is through the European Pointed Pen Collective. I will be presenting Italian Hand. I will update info here on the blog when the registration opens up. I look forward to sharing this beautiful hand with you! You can hear some of my thoughts about Italian Hand on a recent episode of the Calligraphy Podcast.

Whatever you are up to this September, I hope you are finding joy in the journey. Even though these are indeed strange times, I know you will be able to uncover some of the hidden blessings. Thank you all for your notes of encouragement and precious emails that you send. Your support as my students and as my friends means so much to me. 


Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Grateful Momemts

Right now I am in my quiet studio with the windows open to hear the baby bluejays in the yard. Usually the first bird to visit the garden in the mornings is the noisy little Carolina wren. He is so noisy but always so welcome. The camera is always close by but he is so quick and elusive. The baby blue jays are a bit easier to photograph.

I feel like the spring and summer have flown by at an accelerated pace. I have been so grateful to be here at home to experience the garden, weeds and all and watch things as they grow. I love the quiet and have had lots of time to work in my studio. I am so grateful to be able to work closely with so many private students as my travel teaching schedule is on hold indefinitely. There are so many wonderful opportunities online these days to study various things and I feel fortunate to be included as one of your choices! The photos below are part of study packets that get sent out to my private students when the courses are complete. You can email me at anytime if you would like information about any of my private courses.

This summer  I have begun to reread the biography of Kate Greenaway. Kate's work has inspired me for years and it is so good to learn more about her life and her daily routine. She remains one of my biggest artistic heroes.
She was often criticized for her unique style and her desire to continue to paint and draw subjects that she loved. She would listen to her critics to hear what they had to say while she remained true to her own vision. The more I ponder that, the more remarkable I find her. We all have an artistic vision and unique skills, talents and gifts. It does take a measure of strength and determination to continue to pursue our own unique vision. While I worked on this initial and border, Kate continued to inspire me. 


I recognize right now that there are so many challenges around us. Where ever you are in the world, I hope you  have a space of time in your life and corner in a room where you can pursue something that brings you peace and joy. Seek out a moment in a day where you can pause in wonder and gratitude. I am sending virtual hugs and encouragement to you as I write this. If you need a more personal note of encouragement in your mailbox, please write to me at heather@heathervicoriaheld.com. I would love to hear from you. Enjoy August my dear friends. I am so grateful for all of you!

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Missing IAMPETH 2020

This week I would have been in Atlanta surrounded by pen friends, getting nearly no sleep, being incredibly inspired, spending money at John Neal Booksellers and being overwhelmed by the entire experience. IAMPETH has been part of my summer since 2003. I first picked up a pointed pen in 2003 and with the gentle nudging of Joe Vitolo I attended IAMPETH in Cleveland, Ohio which really started my penmanship journey as well as my evolution as an artist. Most of you know that my background in the art world is as a florist and as a seamstress. I never felt as if I had any artistic ability on paper. I always struggled with penmanship and handwriting so the journey into the calligraphic world was a difficult one for me. But every step of the way has been so full of discovery and wonder. I still wake up excited to get into the studio to work. Each day feels like play rather than work. IAMPETH has been the foundation of my growth and my studies. The format of the classes allows us to sample different things throughout the week. The classes whet your appetite for study and you can really decide if you want to dive a bit deeper or if you want to try a different path of study. As an introvert, my first conference was a bit nerve wracking until I understood that I was truly surrounded by giving and caring people. They were glad I was there and they were happy to take me under their collective wing. The archive room in those days was in a hotel suite. We would stay up for hours looking at original work and taking photographs. During that first convention, I met people who would become my friends for life. I continue to cultivate the friendships and savour the letters we send each other through the mail. I feel like IAMPETH has really helped me to come out of my introvert shell a bit. In fact, I had to come out of the shell a lot when I was President during the 2013/2014 year. This year as we are all missing IAMPETH, I want to share some of my favourite photos. As I look over the images I can actually feel the energy of the conference.
I try to be a regular contributor at the Round Robin. These pieces were done last year in Denver and then auctioned off at the Silent Auction.
Some of the best times are open study sessions in the evenings. Bill Kemp and Michael Sull are often there until the doors close giving advice and demonstrations to anyone who have questions. It is so heartwarming to watch how giving and sharing these instructors can be. 
I always take photos of my favourite pieces in the archive room. I try to share and post the photos during each conference.



The IAMPETH experience is a treasure from start to finish. If you are on the fence about attending next year, I would encourage you to jump in. If you have any questions at all about the conference, please email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com and I will be happy to talk to you about t. IAMEPTH, thank you for all that you have done for me. I feel as if I owe the organization a huge debt and I am so honoured to continue to serve the organization,. 

Friday, July 3, 2020

Our Sacred Tasks

Happy July dear friends. Thank you for all of the kind emails, sign ups for private sessions and the beautiful garden photos that you have sent me. I love seeing your flower gardens, studio spaces and projects you are working on and I appreciate that you share them with me.
This is a bit of a tutorial about the process I go through for larger pieces of work. I was commissioned to write the wedding vows of a couple who are now celebrating their third anniversary. The bride had already purchased frames for the vows so I was restricted with the space I had to work with. I had to work on paper cut to 11x14. The bride's vows were going to take up 10 lines more of script than the groom's vows which presented a bit of a technical challenge. To accommodate the bride's vows, I needed to work with very narrow margins. Normally,  I would want more marginal space around all of the edges but I did my best with the spacing. The script is written in very tightly spaced Spencerian hand. I spaced it as if I was writing my Italian Hand but I kept the shading more intuitive and delicate like Spencerian. I line only the baseline of each line of script and let the guidelines be lightly projected underneath my paper with the use of my light table. This method was given to me by my dear mentor and friend Brian Walker. The pencilled baseline gives us a landing place that is fixed firmly in place and can alleviate the tendency to miss the baseline, or stop a bit too short. This gives the work an overall consistency without feeling the "iron bars" of penciling all of the guidelines. Brian always encouraged the letterforms to dance on the page. I always recommend that the baseline be pencilled in on your paper even if you are using a light pad. Sometimes I also rule in the waistline but for a tight Spencerian like this one, I didn't feel I needed that second line.

 As I went through the project, I wanted to post about the tasks we are entrusted with when we work on a commission such as this. The vows themselves are very touching and are so important to each couple. It is so important to be in a peaceful state of mind when we work on our projects. When ever I am lettering, I work in complete silence. I like to have the window open to hear the wind, the rain, the birds or whatever ambient noise that nature is providing for me in my studio. I definitely find that I get into a flow state where my breathing is in tune with the writing. It is such a blessing to write these special words for people and I cherish this time and try to complete the task without being interrupted. I definitely fail at this sometimes as I can easily skip a line or miss a word and then I have to start again. It's just something that happens, and I deal with it and begin again.
After the lettering is completed, my work is prepared for the colouring and gilding stage. I go through an extensive erasing stage.

I put the work under two different magnifiers. My desk magnifier catches obvious pencil lines and I will go over the entire piece with my Faber Castell Dust Free eraser. This eraser definitely produces the usual eraser debris but it is easily gathered and discarded. I use a drafting brush to clear all of the eraser debris. Once I make that initial pass over the paper with the Faber Castell eraser, I use my hand held magnifier to catch any stray pencil marks as well as see if I missed any punctuation or dotting i's or crossing t's. This process can take quite a long time as I am meticulous about the small details.  I try to never feel rushed or pressured. A kneaded eraser can be used if any pencil lines are particularly stubborn.



The x-acto blade is used if I have any  letters that caught a fibre of the paper while I was working and just need to be refined. I usually can easily make corrections with the blade. After the ink is scraped or sculpted a bit, I will use the back of the blade to smooth out the paper. If necessary, I will use a fine sandpaper over gum sandrac  to burnish the paper back to its original condition.
After the corrections are made, the piece is gilded and painted.
The piece is lettered in Old Word Iron Gall ink. I used watercolour to paint the florals. Final embellishment was a touch of gilding with Palladium and some Sakura Gelly Roll pen in Clear Stardust. There is also a very faint application of silver pastel and some Stardust Finetec. I honestly savour every step of this process because I am trying to keep my mind in tune with the artwork itself. These vows are so special to the couple and we as calligraphers have the privilege of being invited in to commemorate these words.  I try to clear my desk at every stage of the project to avoid any potential hazards on my desk. I find that after erasing stage, it is a good idea to completely wash down my desk to make sure everything is ready for gilding and painting. 

These days, I have several private students working on projects of various sizes. Whatever project you are working on,  remember to clear  a place in your heart for the project itself. These commissions are such a special task that we have been entrusted with. If you make a mistake when you are writing, just move on and start again if you can't correct it. It's part of the process. It's part of growing as an artist and a calligrapher. When I first started buying paper for larger commission work, I would buy several pieces of paper for the project. That allowed for a margin of error as I worked. When I was writing the groom's vows, I had to start over 3 times as I mixed up a sentence. I always salvage any part of the paper that I can and just immediately start on a new page without letting the error bother me. The bride's vows although 10 lines longer, was written without error.Maybe I was just so much more cautious with hers! With every project and every task we take on as calligraphers, I encourage you to enjoy and cherish the process. Enjoy the journey no matter where you are. If you are in full student mode and wouldn't dream of doing commission work, I encourage you to stay at that stage for as long as you can. Even though I have had pen in hand for 17 years now, I engage the student part of my mind as often as I can.We are never finished learning and there is no arrival point that we will ever get to on this path. That is part of the joy of being an artist.  This journey if filled with wonder, sometimes with frustrations and struggles and always with growth. I am here through email if you want to chat, inquire about private online lessons or if you want to show me your work, or your garden flowers!!! Let's encourage each other in this journey and cheer each other on as we put ink on paper. Sending lots of hugs this July.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

The Alphabet Garden: Private Student Release

I can hardly believe it is June 21st already! The garden is blooming and there is so much activity in my backyard everyday. It is such a beautiful season. I love the heat and the bright colours of the flowers and the foliage.

This past year, I have been working hard on a special course release for the IAMPETH conference in Atlanta. With the conference being postponed, I worked on a special version of The Alphabet Garden which is now available for private students through Skype or FaceTime. The Alphabet Garden combines my love of the Victorian world and the botanical world along with traditional shapes of Medieval and Renaissance illuminated letters.

 It will give the students a chance to learn about drawing their own historic versal letters and strategically adding embellishments. It has been a welcome distraction to design this course of study and I began to expand the garden to included more stylized letterforms as well as inhabited initials that could incorporate a more botanical subject or a butterfly. Students will be able to choose how many lessons they want to sign up for if they want to expand the basics into a more complex design such as a bordered initial or an inhabited initial.

Like all illumination courses, there are so many possibilities that it is difficult to stop! If you are interested in studying privately with me please email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com to discuss the possibilities.

 With so many of us being at home right now, this is the best way for me to connect with you and help you on your calligraphic, painting and illumination journey.

Whatever you are doing on this beautiful June Day, I hope you take time to enjoy the calming presence of nature and do something that brings you joy. Be patient with yourselves and with others in these curious and uncertain days. Sending hugs to you all. Happy to chat if you want to send me an email. Sending special Father's Day greetings to all of the precious Dads out there as well. Love you all!

Friday, May 29, 2020

Thoughts In Bloom

I just realized that we are near the end of May and I have not posted to the blog this month. I wanted to touch base here with some words of encouragement and some updates. I hope you are flourishing wherever you are in this world. One of the joys I have as an instructor when I present The Artful Flourish or any of my flourishing workshops is to explain the root meanings of the word Flourish. The word I want to focus on right now is "bloom". To translate that root word into the framework of offhand flourishing worked for me as I worked as a florist for many years. Essentially my offhand flourishes are in many ways like little floral arrangements on paper. Let me share a simple floral garland. This design can work as an informal border that gracefully arches over your calligraphic script.
I started this design by drawing my baseline for the word as well as a light guideline for the shape of the arch over the word. If it helps you to have a centre line through the word and the arch then by all means, draw one in. I tend to keep my garland designs more organic, so I don't try to centre the arch precisely over the work. I think this also is rooted in my training as as florist. Nothing was measured, everything developed in the arrangement through training your eyes to visually balance a design.
Once your script is completed, you can embellish it to add some visual weight to the bottom portion of your design.
Next, start with a cluster of florals near the centre of the top garland. I used bleedproof white, a Hunt 21 pen point and my straight holder on a periwinkle colour cardstock.

The cartouche designs that create the cascading shape of the garland are expanded from the centre outward. I usually work on the left hand side of the design and then turn the paper to work on the right hand side of the design.  When working on a flourish, you begin with your largest elements first. Accent strokes are added to flesh out the design and to balance the shape. Always think of your accent strokes as jewelry you are adding to enhance the design. They add a lot of visual weight to the design especially when colour is added. I used Fabercastell Polychromos pencils to embellish the design.
The final touches to give the piece a touch of sparkle were with the Hot Foil pen, a little bit of Diamond Stickles in the centres of the florals and my favourite Sakura gelly roll pen in Clear Stardust. 
These small designs take a few minutes to complete but they are such a good way to hone your pointed pen skills. You really learn to see the negative spaces in a flourish which translates to how you see the counterspaces in your script alphabet. Flourishing is the easiest of all of the pointed pen studies that you can attempt. It sometimes just takes someone to point you in the right direction with it. The practice is peaceful and meditative as you watch your paper bloom. It is a wonderful mental break for you and it brings so much joy in the journey. I encourage you to keep paper handy on your desk, cut to a reasonable size for a small flourish like 5"x7" and flourish for a few minutes. You will be amazed at what you produce. This practice really does free your mind from worry and stress as it is fully engaged in the process on the paper. Flourish and bloom dear friends! I will update the blog again shortly! As my travel is on hold for my teaching engagements, I am taking more students privately online. I will be launching a new online course very soon and will tell you about it shortly! In the meantime, I am here at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com if you need to chat. You can follow me or direct message me on instagram at heathervictora1. Sending hugs all around.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Easy Layout Tutorial

I have been enjoying the Live Chats on Instagram that have been hosted by the European Pointed Pen Collective. You can view some of the past videos here. Sunday's chat was with Dr. Joe Vitolo. Back in 2003, when I was trying to figure out all of the nuances of the pointed pen ( without the help of Instagram or Youtube all those years ago) Joe was instrumental in advising me how to proceed and introducing me to IAMPETH. Through IAMPETH, I met my mentors and my dearest friends and really changed the course of my career path as I eventually became a professional calligrapher. Joe's words of "pay it forward" have really stuck with me. This little tutorial is my way of sharing with you during this difficult time. I want you to continue to find joy in the journey as you put pen to paper and expand your skills. Maria Helena gives a very inspiring LiveChat which is also available on the EPPC's website. My method for layout is very simple. I mainly use a centred layout or a left justified. My method for layout it "old school" having learned it from Michael Sull during one of my early times at The Spencerian Saga. I choose to continue to use this old school method as it really helps me to work out the nuances of the words as well as embed the wording in my head. I am someone who needs to experience the rhythm of the writing and see how the words unfold on the paper in front of me.
 Once my text is determined, I choose the script as well as the guidelines I want to use. This particular commission was to be done in Spencerian Script. The guidelines I used were Michael Sull's Handwriting Sheet A. I write the words using the guide sheets on layout paper to get a measurement of how long each line will be. I do this stage in ink rather than pencil.I want the layout to be reflective of the materials that will be used in the final piece. This first time writing also helps me to become fluid and familiar with the words as I write them.
I  also get a sense of how the lines will interact with each other. Once the words are written, I measure each line as well as the height of the written piece. This helps me to determine the size of the paper I will need for my layout. The paper choice for this piece was a 9x12 sheet of Stonehenge Aqua Cold Press Paper. I wanted a little bit of texture on this design. I used McCaffery Black ink and watercolour for the Victorian Line and Wash Technique of the florals.
Next, I will pencil a centre line on my guidesheet as well on my art paper.
The centre pencil line serves as a registration mark for me. On this  particular piece, I also drew a pencil line of an oval as a boundary for my border flourish. I use Scotch Repositionable tape and to adhere the guidesheet to the art paper. The Scotch tape will not leave any residue on the art paper and will not damage the paper when it is removed.
Using a light table and my measured lines of text I will pencil the baseline for each line of the composition. I use a stainless steel ruler that has very clear markings so my measurements can be precise. The simple process is to make sure you divide each line in text in half so it will be correctly centred on your art paper.
Once the pencilled baseline is in place, I will write the text in Spencerian Script while the guidesheet is being illuminated through the light table. This will allow you to maintain proper slant as well as finding the correct ascender and descender height. But it will also allow for a certain freedom in writing. You don't want your guidesheets to become iron bars for your text. They should gently guide without being overly restrictive.
The lettering is always done first. Once I am happy with the lettering on the art paper, I will proceed with the flourished border. My flourished borders are not preplanned or pencilled beyond the oval line that is drawn. I prefer the true offhand method of flourish which means my border is visually balanced rather than formally balanced. A formal balance would mean that each side is identical. I prefer the more organic and lively look of a true offhand flourished border.
If you have tried the wreath and the heart in my previous blog tutorial, I would encourage to you to try a larger layout and design. The oval border is a great project with lots of opportunity for flourishing.
I did not have an oval template that was large enough for this piece but there are many that you can find online and print out to serve as your guide. Let me know how you do with this tutorial. I would love to see your work! Pick up the pen and flourish my dear friends. You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com if you want to chat or if you want more info about private tutorials online. Sending hugs all around.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Italian Hand

Yesterday I had the honour of doing an Instagram Live Chat hosted by the European Pointed Pen Collective.  You can find them on Instagram through @learnpointedpen. We wanted to discuss Italian Hand as I hope to visit Europe again in September to teach this hand in person.Throughout the past few weeks Kate and Cecilia have been hosting some inspiring live chats. I have loved them all. When I started studying Italian Hand about 10 years ago I went into an avenue of research that was entirely new to me. I looked through my history books, researched online and consulted my friend and historian Don Marsh who has an incredible knowledge of the hand. However, this hand is shrouded in lots of mystery that still intrigues me and causes me to investigate further. I could not dive into all the details during the live chat but hopefully I stirred up some interest.  You can find a treasure trove of copybooks online now at the pennavolans website. Some of my favourite resources can be found there. I want this blog post to be a bit of a starting point for you if you want to dive a little deeper. I do offer private tutorials in this hand ideally taught over a period of six weeks. You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com for details. The first book I started with was George Bickham's Penmanship Made Easy
which is a Dover reprint and readily available. You won't find any instructions on how to do the hand but you will find it contrasted with English Roundhand so you can clearly see the differences in weights of shade, spacing and the compression of the script. If you only had this one resource, you could easily start to navigate the script. Page 32 pictured here was one of my guiding pages as I started to put the script together.
When I study this page, I look for the clues it gives me. I look at the placement of shades, the delicacy of the terminal lobes on the capital letters, the compression of the letterforms and the simplicity of the script. The exercise in observation helps acquaint my mind with the letters. It is really only through the process of the mind being able to see the letters that your hand can eventually catch up and start to do what is clearly envisioned in your mind. I can't stress enough the power of observation. In the beginning, I enlarged the page from the book so I could really see the details clearly.Practice in pencil and draw the weighted shades if that helps you to understand the hand. Observe the simplicity of these capitals. The real beauty of Italian Hand lies in the gentleness and simplicity of the lower case. 
Page 29 also provides wonderful study material. 
The exemplar clearly shows the spacing differences between (Round Text) and (Italian Text.) See how delicately the shades are applied on the Italian Hand. I often do this through a retouch movement that becomes part of the rhythm of my writing. Throughout the years, Italian Hand has become fluid in my thinking process. I can now write this hand more rapidly than my Spencerian Script and English Roundhand. 
Right now, we are navigating some uncertain times. I recognize that a private tutor in calligraphy may not be in the budget.  I wanted this blog post to put some details about the beauty of Italian Hand in front of you so you could start to do some practice on your own. I will gladly add more details about the hand if you find this to be of help to you. I am also working on updated exemplar in my own hand that I will post soon. If you have any questions, by all means email me. I hope you spend some time looking and practicing. I realize I haven't posted every single detail about how to practice this hand. but I hope I generated some interest and intrigue. When I practice, I use a straight holder. This hand does not require an oblique holder.  A good nib to start out with is Hunt 101. Walnut ink is a wonderful ink for practice work. My favourite guide sheets for practicing this hand can be found on the IAMPETH website. I use the 55 degree guide sheets that can be found in this pdf file.My new favourite practice paper is Daler Rowney A4 Layout Paper. As always, feel free to email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com. Let me know how you are doing with Italian Hand. It is a delight to practice and it will dramatically lighten your touch with the pen. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sharing Hope





Hope has become my word for the year. Right now it seems more important than ever to maintain a hopeful mindset. I find myself having to really guard my thoughts and carefully guard my time. Each evening at 3:00 PM, I join some beautiful friends online for a calligraphy social and we spend time together painting, or flourishing, or writing or just taking a pause. I have come to look forward to those afternoon sessions as such a special time. This past week I spent a few of those sessions peacefully painting this little project. The people who have joined the calligraphy social are friends that I met while in Europe lastt fall. This piece is reflective of my last evening in Rome. My friend Cecilia took me on a walk to a little place called the Little House of the Owls. The little swiss cabin built on the property is filled with art nouveau influenced windows and designs. When I planned this design I was remembering some of the colours that I saw in that house. The Lombardic style initials here are painted with Schmincke Naples Yellow and then toned with a bit of Quinacridone Gold. The sage tones of the leaves are painted with Schmincke Green Earth and the Purple tones in the piece are  Schmincke Prussian Blue Violet. The blue of the butterfly is painted with Kremer Pigments Ultramarine Blue Very Dark. The palette for this design was put together after my trip to New York City last year when I purchased some Kremer Dry Pigments. The Schmincke colours were purchased to try to create a very muted illumination palette.  I fought the desire to fill this painting with pink blooms. Pink is always my default setting but these days I have been reaching for some softer colours in my work. As I painted this piece, I was reminded of how much of art is dependent on hope.
As we paint, or write or flourish, we are hopeful that the strokes will come together and form a pleasing result. Hang on to Hope these days!!! Keep picking up your brush or your pen and clear your mind as you work. Let the process truly become a mindful experience. Nurture hope. I am here via email if you want to chat. You can contact me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com. I am wishing you all a beautiful Easter weekend as I send you virtual hugs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Heart and Home

Happy April dear friends. I hope you are keeping well. This is indeed a strange and stressful time, unlike anything we have experienced before. These days I find myself being so grateful for things that I used to take for granted. My routine has changed and I am getting used to a "new normal" as I am sure you are too. I find myself visiting my home library much more often and appreciating what is on the shelf. Over the years, I seem to have collected not only art supplies, papers, inks and paints but an abundance of books. Each one served a particular purpose when I purchased it but it is time to revisit the pages and wisdom on the shelf. There is so much to glean from each page. I encourage you to visit your home library and revisit an old friend on the shelf. Right now, we have the time and the effect can be such a welcome pause during this unique time.




A couple of weeks ago, I shared a Spring wreath tutorial with you and had so many thankful emails. I am so glad you enjoyed the tutorial. I have added a few more images here of the same idea, but expanded to a heart design. You begin the same way with a simple heart outline. Bear in mind that your pencil outline will need to be erased so keep the line light and delicate. If you use a B pencil it really helps to deliver a very faint line on the paper. When I want to incorporate some calligraphy in the flourish, the lettering is always done first. When writing a single word I often use a pencil line for the baseline and the x-height.

When I begin a heart flourish, I usually turn the heart shape so the point is facing away from body. I then begin to flourish along the right hand side of the heart with the small cartouche strokes and floral clusters. Before doing the left hand side of the heart, I make sure that the right side is dry. You don't want to accidentally brush your hand through wet ink.
Proceed the same way as outlined in the wreath flourish tutorial. This flourish was painted with watercolour and embellished with finetec gold and the Sakura Clear Stardust Gelly Roll Pen. I used McCaffery brown ink on Strathmore Bristol Vellum Paper. 
The same method applies to any shape and size. The layout method is a bit different for something as large as the oval design pictured, but the flourishing technique is the same. 
The final image is a group of flourishes I completed for The European Pointed Pen Collective Envelope exchange. The floral flourishes are painted freely in watercolour rather than the Victorian Line and Wash method but the flourishing method is similar.
Whatever you decide to try, I am here to answer any questions.  You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com.  Remember that you do not need to use the same supplies that I use. I encourage you to start with what you have and try your hand at this peaceful and meditative art form. With my travel schedule being altered at the moment, I have more time for online private sessions. If you are interested in more details about The Artful Flourish course, The Enchanted Meadow, The Enchanted Letter, Italian Hand or any of my other workshops please contact me and I will be happy to send you info. Keep calm and Flourish On dear friends. We are in this together.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Spring Wreath Flourish Tutorial

I am always amazed at the meditative and peaceful process of offhand flourishing. Whenever I flourish, I am aware that my breathing gets a little deeper and all of my focus is on the paper in front of me. One of the definitions of flourish is "to bloom". Let me share this process of how to bring a spring wreath to bloom on your desk today.

The wreath design is just a suggestion. You can use any shape you want. A heart, a square, an oval. Absolutely anything. I used a circle template to transfer an outline in pencil. My paper was Strathmore vellum finish Bristol cut to 5" x 7". Supplies used for this design: Straight pen holder with  your favourite pen point, McCaffery Brown ink, Watercolour pencils, Watercolour, Pastels, Finetec Gold, Hot foil pen, Sakura Gelly Roll Clear Stardust pen and a little bit of stickles glitter glue for floral centres.

Once the outline is on the paper, I placed a small cluster of flowers randomly on the outline. The secret to clustering little floral bouquets is to allow the flowers to interfere with each other a little bit. I always tell my students to draw them a little too close for comfort. The florals are not predawn anywhere in pencil. I am using pure offhand flourishing techniques and building up the design one ink stroke at a time. 
You can see in the photo above how I begin to proceed around the outer shape of the circle. I am adding small cartouches in between the little clusters of flowers. The flowers themselves are very simple to do. You can go to my YouTube channel to see more of my flourishing which includes some florals. My festive flourish 2017 on the YouTube channel starts with a floral. 
Once the florals and flourished cartouche strokes are all the way around the design in ink you are ready for the colour stage of your design. I am using a Victorian Line and Wash technique for this wreath. The Line and Wash technique requires a waterproof ink which is why I used McCaffery Brown for this wreath. McCaffery Brown is always my favourite choice for this technique because the colour is so soft, Other inks that work for this particular technique are McCaffery Black, Old World Iron Gall, Ziller Buffalo Brown and Fox And Quill's Victoria Ink. If you are not going to use any watercolour on this design, you can use any ink at all.
The next stage of the design is to add your colour. I am starting with a very light application of water-colour pencil. I am using Staedtler Aquarelle for this wreath but any watercolour pencil will do. 
I started by colouring all of my leaves around the wreath in a medium spring green colour. I apply just a touch of the watercolour pencil near the base of each leaf. Once the green has been applied, I proceeded to add a touch of pink to the petals of the flowers just near the base. You want to avoid overly saturating the petals with the pigment.
You can see just how lightly the pigment is applied in the photo above. Once all of the petals and leaves have been given a light application of watercolour pigment, I use a very small watercolour brush and start to disperse the pigment with clean water. Once this first layer of colour is completed, you end up with a very gentle application of soft colour on your design. The ink will not bleed when water is added because you have used a waterproof ink.

My next stage is to heighten the colour a little bit. Using my watercolours and a very small brush, I will add just a touch of darker pigment near the base of each leaf and petal. I do this to start building a sense of dimension to the wreath.  My favourite green to use is Sap Green and my favourite pink is Quinachridone Rose. 

You can see how I coaxed some dimension from the petals and the leaves as I proceeded around the wreath. The question I usually get at this point is "when do you know you are finished?" There is no easy answer to that question. It looks fine the way it is but I know I can add a bit more sparkle to this piece. Using pastels, I then added a burnished background in soft pink and green. My final touches where to add some shadow strokes with Finetec gold ink. The last touches were a few hot foil dots in emerald green, some joyful strokes with the Sakura Gelly Roll Clear Stardust pen and some Diamond Stickles glitter glue in the centre of each blossom.  The wreath design is a bit more involved and time consuming than other flourishes. From start to finish I probably spent 45 minutes to an hour on this little flourish. 


The point is to enjoy the process and be absorbed in each of the details that you add to the piece. I hope you enjoy the process.  You can do this in so many different colours or experiment with your own favourite papers and inks. Just try it!! It is easier than you think. I am constantly reminding my students that offhand flourishing is the easiest of all pointed pen techniques to learn. It is far easier to learn than any script alphabet. I do teach this type of offhand flourishing online privately. You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com if you want details about The Artful Flourish course. Or, if you have any questions about this particular flourish, feel free to email me. I hope this flourish brings you joy and a touch of colour to your desk today. Sending hugs to you!