I am currently sitting at my partially cluttered studio desk as I prepare this blog post. I am used to a pretty meticulous routine of washing down the studio desk every Saturday and then dusting and vacuuming the studio. You would think with all of my time at home that I would be able to keep up with this routine. Even though our pace of life and our experiences this year are vastly different that previous years, I am finding myself overwhelmed at times. This same feeling of being overwhelmed is coming through in emails from students, friends and colleagues. Generally speaking, I try hard to include a time to pause and reflect each day. Take some slower, deeper breaths, gather my thoughts and count my blessings. These past few weeks I feel like I have missed that routine several times. I have taken several online courses including sign writing, calligraphy, and botanical illustration. There is just so much being offered and I want to continue to learn. I have noticed though, that as much as I want to continue to study, there is a limit to how much I can absorb. I honestly let some amazing courses pass by because I knew I could not keep up with the study and the homework. That feeling of being overwhelmed and having too many oars in the water at once is helping me to focus on things that are really important right now.
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
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
Wednesday, July 8, 2020
Friday, July 3, 2020
After the lettering is completed, my work is prepared for the colouring and gilding stage. I go through an extensive erasing stage.
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.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
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 email@example.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
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.
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.
Tuesday, April 28, 2020
Next, I will pencil a centre line on my guidesheet as well on my art paper.
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.