Wednesday, October 19, 2016

In the Beginning

I was recently asked about what drew me into the calligraphic world. I remember being enticed by the world of offhand flourishing and the beautiful creative patterns that I saw in The Ames Compendium and Ornate Pictorial Calligraphy. I was hooked just by looking at the images. Skill came slowly and was hard earned. I practiced for hours a day and made very slow progress. I broke pen nibs, ran into trouble finding the correct pen point to suit the skills that I had in my hand at the time, paper surfaces challenged me and I wanted to use colour but didn't know what would work in my pen. I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons. My daily practice included writing letters and decorating envelopes to mail out to friends and family.
Now and then someone will send me a picture of one of my early efforts to show my evolution as a pen artist. I laugh and shudder when I see the work. But such was my beginning. There was no substitute for learning those lessons. And there was a great joy in creating the envelopes and letters.
Every Sunday was letter writing day for me without fail. I would always write and always flourish envelopes to hold the letters. It was a wonderful time. I am grateful to the lessons I learned as a beginner. One paper that I loved to was Canson Mi-Tientes Stygian Black Pastel Paper. Densely black, slightly toothed on both sides of the paper making it a bit risky to go too fast, and an incredible background for white and gold. Back in 2003, it was wonderful to be able to find black paper for writing and flourishing. Things have certainly changed. The arts and crafts stores are filled with beautiful vibrant coloured papers and our calligraphic stockists have so many wonderful metallic products to augment our work. I never dreamed of the possibilities that I would see back in the beginning of my journey. A wise teacher and friend once told me not to rush that beginning process. I would only be a beginner once and I would be wise to cherish that time. I understand the meaning of that now. There is something so special about having those eyes that are constantly making new discoveries. Autumn heightens the sense of awareness and discovery.
Every walk is an adventure and every day new colours greet me. Enjoy the season you are in, whether you are starting out as a beginner, evolving as an artist or just becoming aware of the possibilities. Seasons come and go so quickly.

Monday, October 10, 2016

The Light Changes

Canadian Thanksgiving always brings changes. Store displays are very differnt. Full of bright orange pumpkins, scarecrows and Ontario's harvest. Flavours change to darker, richer, and more robust than the lighter fare of summer. Sounds change in the garden. There are different birds at the feeders, their chirps filling the air differently than in spring and summer. And light changes. Mornings bring a different type of light to the garden.
It is somehow brighter and more precious.
It hits the plants at different angles somehow and casts a different shadow on other plants.
I can't explain it. The green in the trees is starting to change to multiple colors and looks so different against the blue sky. My thoughts change to embrace the pace that fall brings. I don't exactly resist the fall changes but it is always an adjustment for me. In the studio, things change seasonally as well. My subjects are influenced by the sights and sounds around me. My work table gets filled with acorns, chestnuts, crabapples, coloured leaves and even twigs.
I appreciate them and watch them change even further as they start to fade. Notes that I mail to friends are more autumnal in their flourishes.
I am always more reflective this time of year but slightly unsettled and somewhat distracted. I think it is just the transient nature of this season. I have to be more regimented about keeping lists in my daily planner to stay on task. I always feel as if I am in state of half acceptance and half resistance as the days become so much cooler. The most important strategy I have in the studio is to completely clean up my work table betwen tasks. If I fail to clean my desk, put my tools away neatly and keep a tidy area, I will procrastinate in starting my next task. I tend to have lots of accumulated paper in the studio as practice papers pile up. I have to clear those out of my path and my mind to be able to work on the next project. Funny how seasons so easily affect my routines! But there is a deep beauty in this season that needs to be appreciated. As am artist, I cannot help but be influenced by these sights, sounds and colours. This year, my botanical studies take up a lot of time in my mind and in my studio.
I bought a goat skin to work on a larger piece as well as many vellum scraps to practice with.
Looking foward to the lessons they will teach me. Happy Canadian Thanksgiving! Happy October.