Sunday, February 15, 2015

Tools We Love

As I was cleaning up my studio this morning I was struck by how ritualistic I have become with my work and my workspace. I have a very small studio. Not much more than a corner to work in. I am surrounded by books that I refer to constantly and very special tools. After each piece is completed in my studio, I clear off the clutter that has encroached my space during the working process and wash down the work surface. It seems to cleanse my mind from the previous project and prepares my little space for the next project. My Valentine card this year was created with some precious tools that I don't think I have shared before. Some small detail brushes and containers have been very helpful in my illumination work. The Size 1 Detail Sable Brush is from Dick Blick. I picked it up on my first trip to Philadelphia to teach Enchanted Letters. I had forgotten my brush box and although I don't mind borrowing tools when I am away, I am very particular about my brushes. Lucky to have a Dick Blick near the workshop it was my first trip into that store. I don't remember the brush being very expensive but it has held a perfect point for a few years now and is the best Sable brush I have ever owned. I realized how attached I was to it and it was only purchased out of desperation. I would normally have chosen a Winsor Newton Series 7 but the store did not have them in stock. It was a lucky purchase! The aqua Princeton Select 18/0 brush was purchased in Nashville this past October. Again, lucky to be teaching a workshop in an artstore and I needed a detail brush. This was a new discovery for me and now all outline work I do is done with this little brush. It too retains its point and is easier for me to manage than other liner or monogram brushes. The Royal & Langnickel 20/0 acrylic brush was recently purchased at Michaels. Another desperation purchase for applying gold size. The brushes used for gold size can deteriorate very quickly but this one is my new studio iron man! It has already survived multiple miniatum ink applications and the perfect point has been retained. I am very impressed with all of these very inexpensive brushes.
I also wanted to show you two of my favorite gilding tools. A little Victorian salt dish complete with mini tongs! I don't use the mini tongs for gilding but I do use the salt dish to capture all my stray bits of gold leaf. So far there has never been enough in there to much with but now and then it is exactly what I reach for if I only need a touch of gold or need to make a correction. It is always by my side! The leakproof widemouth Nalgene jar is my new best friend for the Miniatum ink. No more leaks or painfully sealed jar lids! A dream come true!!! Before I cleaned up my desk I wanted to share these gilding and miniature illumination favourite tools with you. Happy February 15th!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Believe in Angels

First in a special series I am working on that will be printed into note cards.
As I work on Designed Flourishes for my Victorian Pen workshop, I can't help but be guided by Kate Greenaway once again. She remains one of my biggest influences. Her biography is fascinating. She was highly critiqued for her illustrations yet she kept on painting. People thought her little children looked mournful but I found them serene an peaceful. Walter Crane was an outspoken critic of her work. I have often wondered what she thought when she heard Walter Crane's critiques. Yet she kept on. He was a powerful and influential illustrator who did not appreciate her work...yet she forged her own path. As I painted the face on this little angel, visions of Kate's little cherubs were in my head. The book that influences me is the Kate Greenaway Treasury.
I have had it since I was a child. It's not even mine!!! It belongs to my Dad who got it as a part of a book club. But I adopated in and in case he is looking for it....I absconded with it years ago! It teaches me and it instructs my students. Years ago, my dear friend Anne Sheedy gave me a first edition Kate Greenaway book. Engraved by Edmund Evans and very precious to me. This is the page that has influenced my embroidery and my Victorian Line and Wash techniques.
Recently, my dear friend Ann Cobb blessed me with a page from one of the first editions of Kate Greenaway's Language of Flowers book.
It should be framed and on my wall but this piece travels with me as I teach my workshops. The brown signature outlines of her watercolours influenced me to choose McCaffery Brown ink. It is always the perfect colour. It is not technically waterproof but it has never failed me in this technique.
The Victorian in me loves her gentle subject matter. I love the subdued tones of her watercolors contrasted by the brown outline. I could sense Kate's influence in this piece but the vinework and the cherub are coming from Baroque studies. My little angel is on his way to his new home. Gilded with 23K Czech gold and painted with soft watercolours, this piece measures 4 1/8" by 2 3/4".