Thursday, June 1, 2023

Ground Breaking Growth

 The first morning of June is bright and beautiful and offers the promise of extended warmth and growth. I have been in the garden every morning to tend to the weeds, water the seedlings and feed the birds. I have been watching baby robins bounce around the yard and take time in the bird bath. I have stepped back even as small bunnies manage to eat a whole pansy plant in what seems like seconds. The garden is ever changing, evolving, growing and causing me to pause in wonder. When I finally see a leaf sprout through the ground I start to anticipate its bloom. What a blessing this garden has been and although it is a lot of work, I appreciate each stage of growth and each action it requires of me. I wish I could slow time as each day passes so quickly. I am determined to really pause and observe this beautiful season. 

Here in the studio I have been extra reflective and appreciative. The first group of students in The Flights of Fancy Master class have completed their program of study. I watched amazing growth. I felt privileged and honoured to accompany them and watch their skills bloom. As the first course came to a close, I could see that the light bulb had turned on for so many of them. Many are on the verge of finding the skills that have been calling out to them for so long. It was a journey that I could never have imagined or hoped for. Group Two will wrap up late this month and then we have a celebration class for both groups in September.  I will be launching Soaring Higher Enrichment Sessions for these students to add some special techniques that we were not able to fit into course.  The whole amazing process has caused me to appreciate teaching with fresh eyes. Each student is a blessing and they all have a gift to offer this world. The What if You Fly piece was created to celebrate Group One students in the Flights of Fancy class. I hope they continue to fly without fear. 

 After such an intense season of Mater Classes, I feel surprisingly refreshed and look forward to a very Victorian summer. The Victorian Pen Workshop will be offered in August through The Gentle Penman. This improvers and intermediate level course is where I first began to solidify my Line and Wash techniques along with my love of the Victorian Era.

 I wanted to elevate the basics of offhand flourishing through ornamental design. This class has since created several offshoot classes over the years but they all have their foundation in this course.  If you love pen drawn florals, trailing vines, spinning acanthus, twisted ribbons and delicate birds, this will be the class for you. We explore a delicate technique for colour as well as some opulent ideas that will enrich your flourishing journey. 

This will be my only major online workshop for the summer as I slow down to get ready for IAMPETH as well as prepare for several new courses for late fall and 2024. The Victorian Pen workshop, represented ground breaking growth for me as an artist. I was starting to find my voice and my vision and find a way to articulate my techniques. It contains so much of my heart and soul. 

I will be working on new course handouts and posting fresh images on IG and Facebook. I hope you follow the path of the course development as it evolves in the next few weeks. I also wish you all the beauty of this glorious season. Take time to appreciate each stage of growth as you see it. Greet the flowers as you see them. Each one has a different face and personality and offer us so much beauty along our paths. Cheering you all on in your own personal growth. Please keep in touch. Sending hugs this beautiful June Morning. May you Flourish!

Monday, May 1, 2023

The Marvels of May

 As I sit at my desk today on May 1st, the view is a soggy backyard. We have had days of grey skies and lots of rain, but I seen the green grass emerging and I am grateful for the beauty of this day.  It seems like we just blinked and the calendar pages have turned so quickly.

May always comes bringing promises of blooms and colour. I look forward to the emerging garden and the quiet work it brings. I want to take some time to thank all of my students who have been journeying with me for long term classes as well as continuing to take new or repeated courses. I am also continuing with private students and we get to explore territory that is so specialized and tailored to each student. The African Daisy sketch above was requested by a private student. I had to locate a specimen at the garden centre and then figure out a simple way to try to teach it. We could only progress so far in the lesson but felt so good to try something a bit different. I don't think I had ever noticed an African Daisy before. With each study that I do, I feel like I take a deeper look at nature and come away more appreciative.  I feel so blessed to accompany each student and watch as new skills emerge for each one of them. 

 I just completed the April session of the Flourishing Club at Ardington school and I am thrilled to see the work that the students are producing. April focused on floral roundels. They are easy to do. The design principle is repetition. You can start with a simple floral outline and then decide what elements you wish to repeat around the roundel. You can try one of these simple outlines. I would love to see your work if you do give this a try.

Whether the designs use a loose floral technique or a more pointed pen etched floral, the results are often surprising and very addictive.

 More fun is in store for the Flourishing Club for May, June and July if you are interested in joining the community. The course is currently sold out, but you can still register your interest in the class and we can see about opening a few extra spaces. We really did not know what to expect when we started the club and it is wonderful to see it grow. The other May class I have will be The Alphabet Garden Peacock Edition through the Gentle Penman. I am completing the course notes this week and I look forward to seeing the fanciful designs emerge on the pages. For sure, these designs are more complex than my usual Alphabet Garden class but I think I have found a way to break down the steps into easy components. At any rate, there is always joy as we learn together and I hope these techniques will enhance your skills. 

Finally, this Saturday I will begin my final offering of Italian Hand for 2023. This course is hosted by The Art of Letters in Singapore and will be kept very small. If you want to be introduced to the delicate grace of Italian Hand, registration info is available online. 

I hope this month is bright and cheerful for you. Enjoy each stage of the changing season. As I complete this blog post, the rain has stopped and the sun has broken through. Time is so precious and things can change quickly. I want you to know how much I appreciate your kindness and support. Wherever you are and whatever you are doing with the work of your hands, I am cheering you on and sending you a grateful hug. I hope May is full of marvels for you.

Saturday, April 1, 2023

The Music Of Spring

 Yesterday morning was grey, and filled with sleet and ice pellets. There were still mounds of snow in my backyard. This morning, on April 1st, it is as if a switch has been turned on. The grass is green. The music of robins and cardinals is playing in the backyard and I can see squirrels and rabbits bouncing playfully. What a difference a day can make. And how welcome is this blue sky and bright sunshine. I love this season.  I will try to take my eleven o'clock tea time with my book on a the porch rocking chair. I don't take one moment of this brief season for granted. It really is my favourite season.  I will be using soft, gentle colours in my palette as I work in my studio. 
This month, I will be teaching a Master Class in Italian Hand through the EPPC online. This will be running from April until September. It is a slow study method and presented to a small group of students. We have a single opening for the class if you are interested. You can email me directly with questions if you are thinking about it. Consider this to be an Extended Play edition of the course. I am still completing the extensive course notes and discovering so many nuances along the way.  I will be gleaning from George Shelley, John Ayres, Joseph Champion and George Bickham as well as others. Somewhere between all of these influences, I have found my own own hand and the joy of Italian Hand. Although this is called a Master Class, this hand still has distinct mysteries for me and I hope to explore them together with you. We will be of course, finding ways to incorporate flourishes and compose calligraphic work with this playful hand.

Victorian Frames and Labels will be presented in May through Ardington online. This has been such a delicate skill to learn and I have found this pointed pen etching technique to be so helpful for cards and envelopes. The class evolved out of a single Victorian card that I found during the pandemic. This pointed pen etching technique is easier to learn than offhand flourishing and the results can be so surprising and inspiring. 

More upcoming classes are listed on here for you on my page. There are lots of classes coming up  if you are interested. It is always such a joy to accompany students on their journey and I never take these teaching opportunities for granted. You are such a blessing to me. The rest of April will be a bit of a sabbatical for me. I will be catching up on some very special commissions and painting pen orders. When I enjoy a cup of  tea at 11:00 AM each day. I take time to pause and reflect on the joy that you have brought to me as students and friends. Appreciate each day my dear friends. Take time enjoy the work of your hands. I hope you have a beautiful April. Sending bright Spring hugs all around. 

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Season of Perpetual Hope

I had my March post all ready to publish on March 1st but life got ahead of me. Here were are on the 22nd day of the month and I am still hoping for Spring. I see signs of life in my garden. The Hellebore has budded and I am sure it will be in bloom soon. I hear robins and I have seen the red winged blackbirds already this season and they bring me so much joy. It is amazing how something as small as a bird can make such a large impact. 

As the different sights and sounds come into view through my studio window and my perspective at the desk will change. I love this season. I love anticipating the emerging of green and blossoms. Winter has its own peace and beauty but Spring represents so much Hope for me. I have lots to keep me busy at my desk these days as I prepare for new classes. I have had numerous requests to run a class about my Peacock initials and have agreed to teach a Peacock edition of The Alphabet Garden for The Gentle Penman. There is so much I can dive into as we construct the peacock together but the most important highlight of the class will be exploring a luminous painting technique. Info for registering for the class in may can be found here. 

In May, I will also be offering Victorian Frames and Labels through Ardington online. This is the class that takes a deep dive into the pointed pen etching technique while letting the wonders of the Victorian era shine through.  This class is a great one for any skill level. There are very easy techniques to explore with just pen and ink and the designs are surprisingly meditative. I have been etching away and finding so much joy in the process. The Sprinkle Joy piece is on bamboo paper which has quite a texture to it.

At this stage, I pause and consider the colour palette that will bring it to life. I often want to leave these designs just at the pen etch stage as they have a charm with pure ink on paper. In the end, I did choose to add colour to the design. 

Victorian Frames and labels are wonderful small studies for cards, envelopes or menu designs. They are highly addictive! There are still a few spaces left for this class if you are interested in joining us. Ardington classes are kept small so I am able to offer more interaction and feedback for the students in the courses. 

Finally, if you want to look ahead as far as June, I will be presenting The Passionate Pen class for Ardington School online. The Passionate Pen is my look Anglaise or English Roundhand. This is my approach to the beautiful English Script writing that is such a graceful form of handwriting. English Roundhand sings a song of its own and it is a delight to explore. There are only a few seats left for this course in June so I thought I should mention it on the blog if you were considering it. The graceful writing style is a perfect compliment for Victorian Frames and Labels. 

 I am grateful for the opportunity to share my work with students from all over the world. What makes me happiest is seeing their own interpretations of the work that is presented and watching how they grow. I hope that you are having a beautiful Spring wherever you are. Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and send me emails. I am always so happy to hear from you. Looking forward to the emerging season with you and I hope you find joy with the work of your hands. Sprinkle Joy dear friends!

Sunday, February 26, 2023

Quiet Appreciation

 This Sunday morning is cold but filled with sunshine. I woke up to the song of a cardinal who seemed to be so joyful. As I prepared to start my day I realized how grateful I am each morning as I get ready to approach my desk. I can't wait to start working. I can't wait to put pen or brush to paper and bring something of beauty into the world. Even though there are struggles, stresses and anxieties to contend with, the pause and anticipation of working with me hands brings on such a sense of appreciation. I have just completed the Pencil Lines for Glittering Vines course for Ardington and next week I will start Nature Sings.  There are still a few spots left if you want to join. We will work on a grisaille technique for butterflies, bunnies and florals.

Each time I present a course, I discover something new. These designs and ideas are part of who I am as a teacher and an artist but I still find new lessons along the way. Although I teach, I find that I learn as well. The ideas that are unpacked by students and the questions that they bring enrich my life in so many ways. I just wanted to share the joy of this Sunday morning with you and hope that you find a moment in the day for quiet appreciation. I want you to know that your notes, emails and comments have been such a blessing to me. Enjoy the beauty of each day. Sending hugs all around. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Flourished Joy

 It's a frosty February morning! We are experiencing our coldest temperatures of the season right now and there have been lots of cloudy days and grey skies. It is this time of the year that I need colour more than ever. The flourishes on my desk have been bright and cheerful. A parade of bunnies have been keeping me entertained as I chose them for my opening class of Flights of Fancy.

I have 50 students with me for this journey and the magic they are creating on the page is incredible. It was an unusual step for me to create such an advanced course of study. I have all different skill levels in the class, but each of them are taking it so seriously and spending dedicated time with the homework. As an instructor, I could not be more pleased and excited to see what is happening. My work desk is filled to overflowing at the moment. I have new course notes to prepare, commissions to design and pen orders to complete. It is a busy pace and at times, it can become overwhelming. No matter how busy things become, I find that I have to put time aside to pick up the pen to flourish.

It is a form of mediation for me. My mind can release from all of the pressures or stress that surround me and I can play on paper. The emerging rabbits bring me joy and a sense of calm that is hard to explain.

There are so many ways to nurture the sense of calm that is needed in our stress filled world. Whether you take time to brew a perfect cup of tea, read a chapter of your favourite book, pick up needle and thread to embroider or put ink to paper and write a caring note. Whatever it is that brings you that sense of joy and peace, I hope you can put time aside to pursue it. If your part of the world is in that seemingly endless cycle of grey skies and cold weather, I encourage you to bring a flower or two home to enjoy. There is nothing like their bright and cheerful presence to bring a touch of joy to your day!

Lots of flourishes are coming up in my monthly Flourishing Club for The Ardington School. I will also work on the bunnies, butterflies, and a frosted grisaille technique in Nature Sings for Ardington.

I have started a page that makes it easier to find the open registration links some of my course offerings. You can also contact me for my 2023 teaching schedule if you are interested in studying with me. I hope this February find you with pen in hand, flourishing, creating, playing and finding joy and beauty in each day. Sending hugs all around. 

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Creating the Charming Cherub Class

This Sunday afternoon is bright and cheerful The sun has been shining for two days now. It is amazing how much I  miss the sunlight when the days are grey and cloudy. The bright sunshine is such a reminder to cherish the joys of each day. Whether it is a glimpse of a bright cardinal, a walk while bundled up for winter or a sip of a perfect cup of tea, savour the moments! I am taking a few moments this afternoon to give another January update on the blog. I just finished teaching Belles Nouvelles Lettres for The Gentle Penman online and I am loving the student work that is being produced. I see new ideas being explored as people really take to the possibilities of Art Nouveau letterforms. This morning I finished a V that I wanted to demonstrate in class, but 2.5 hours each class is just not enough time to do everything. The letter mixed Daniel Smith Wisteria and Daniel Smith Lavender. Rather than creating an infilled letter, I let the shadows around theletter help define the shape. The V could almost be turned toward the left to create a P.

These letters are subtle and relatively quick to do and I will continue to explore them and see what else evolves with them. As I concluded the workshop, I was asked to talk about the upcoming Valentine special edition class called Charming Cherubs. I had a few minutes to show the work that will be explored but I wanted to share a bit on the blog about the process of creating a workshop. Although these courses are presented in a relatively quick fashion, this particular class has been years in the making. Like so many of my courses, there is a root in Medieval and Renaissance Illuminated Manuscripts. My illumination teacher Debbie Thompson Wilson was the first one to introduce me to the possibilities of painted angels and cherubs. I would spend time perusing illuminated manuscripts to find examples I could study in detail.  I worked on faces, hands, wings, hair, folds in fabric. Each study had a lesson for me to learn and I loved trying to recapture the vision of the original illuminator. Although I love illuminated manuscripts, my heart is in the Victorian era and studies of Victorian scraps and cards will lead you to very charming cherub designs.

Many of the Victorian cherubs look more like children with wings and the illustrators had a wonderful time putting the cherubs in any settings you could imagine.

As I continued to study and glean from historic sources, I did not want to copy or re-do that which had already been done. I wanted to put these little cherubs into either flourished settings or acanthus settings. Over the years I created several miniature paintings and flourished cherubs that have found their ways to their new owners. Some were created as portfolio pieces and sold and others were created as special gifts for friends and family members. Cherub Dance was the first flourish that I did which incorporated a little cherub.

I continue to reproduce this card design even though I know my skin tone for the little cherub is far too pink. I still love the dance of the cherub. The thank you note that is included with the purchase of a Held Pen is my Cherub With Quill design. Again, it incorporates my love of offhand flourishing.

 My very first Angel of the Acanthus design was created for one of IAMPETH's silent auction. It was my first attempt at integrating a Victorian acanthus setting with the cherub.

 Evan's Hope was created for a local child who did not have long to live. Our little village here is St. George celebrated Christmas early in October for Evan. As a village, we put up our Christmas lights early and even had our Christmas parade in October so he could celebrate his favourite holiday one last time. I still get emotional when I think about this and I created his cherub design as a memorial card.

When I was asked to create a Valentine workshop that incorporated some kind of cherub design, I realized that I did not have any of my original pieces left to share with the class. I do have digital images that continue to be reproduced as cards, but it can be tricky to produce handouts when so much the original artwork is in private collections. When I considered the project for the class, I had to recognize that three hours for a class is very little to share something that I have been practicing for years. Usually, the drawing and painting of cherubs is reserved for my private students so I can take more time with some of the nuances of the designs. This Charming Cherub class will take the students through the painting of the skin tones, the nuances of the wings and will touch on the folds of the fabric, twisting ribbons and beautiful roses. The cherub is strategically hidden behind a scroll design to accommodate the restricted time frame for the class.

Even with hiding part of the cherub, this is an ambitious class to try to present. My hope for the class is that it will spark an interest and maybe spur the students on to trying to add figures into their work. I have watched private students and the small Ardington class students add figures into their illuminated letters and flourish designs so I am hoping that this will continue to happen.  Much of the foundation of the design is built up with pen and ink.

It could be left at the inked stage or brought to life with watercolour. The notes for the class will glean from some of my special Victorian trade cards and I do my best to fill the notes with lots of pathways for interested students to continue to study. Registration is open now through The Gentle Penman if you are interested in this single session course.
Years of personal study have gone into this class and I know that I will just be able to skim the surface of the possibilities in this class. But, the course notes will also really help me as I continue to teach a more involved cherub for my private students. Creating courses and workshops is a long and tricky path to navigate. I feel like I learn so much along the way. I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse of some of the background for the course. Each course takes so much time and research to prepare  and then it seems like it is over in a blink of an eye. But I hope the lessons and the inspiration from each course lingers on for a long time. Happy Sunday dear friends. 

Tuesday, January 10, 2023

May You Flourish

 The first 10 days of the New Year have flow by and I am back in my regular studio routine of teaching, working on commissions, painting and shipping pens. No complaints! I am thrilled to have the work and I love seeing what students are doing and how they are growing. When I ship out pens and write a note of thanks to my client, I sign each note with the phrase "May you Flourish!" As a former florist, I know that the root word of Flourish can mean " bloom". I delight in watching others flourish and blossom on their own path. The floral world for me was always filled with such beauty. Each petal of flower is precious and when I handle them, I try not to bruise or damage their delicate beauty.

They are unique and one of a kind even if you get a dozen of the same flowers. I always appreciate their individual beauty. The calligraphic world is very different from the floral world but from the time I picked up the pointed pen, I was trying to merge the two worlds together. I love flourishes that blossom and bloom. I love wandering over a page with pen and ink and seeing what ideas emerge. The process of flourishing for me is like thinking on paper. Although the strokes are simple and now very familiar to me, each design is one of a kind and has that same delicate nature as a flower. When I flourish with pen and ink, I enter into a place of quiet peace. I am undistracted, calm and filled with a sense of wonder and appreciation. It is very difficult to to explain. When I teach, I try to tell my students about this sense of peace but this is something that has to be understood by each person. My hope is always that each student "will flourish," and find that sense of quiet peace.  There are so many ways for you to study and learn flourishing techniques. There are many online classes, in-person classes and tutorials that you can find. Take whichever route is most comfortable for you. This year, I will be teaching a few flourishing classes and The Ardington School will be presenting two of the first. A unique opportunity this year, and also an experimental way of teaching will be the Flourishing Club through  the Ardington School.

 The hope of The Flourishing Club is to share some of this quiet peace and have you integrate flourishing into your daily routine at least for a few weeks. There will be a variety of flourishes explored and I hope to see students take the flourishes into unique directions. 

See what happens. See what emerges on the paper. And see how you grow in the process. Nature Sings will be presented in March.

Ardington School classes are kept small and allow me to interact with the student and help nurture skills along the way. 

This is a class that was launched to highlight a grisaille technique for flourishing. It is rooted in the beauty of nature and anticipates Spring with butterflies, bunnies and florals. It's a breath of fresh air as we pull out of a grey winter. White underpainting can give spectacular effects in the flourish.

 I am still amazed and surprises at what happens on the paper when I flourish  using the grisaille technique.

 Although I have been playing with offhand flourishing for 20 years now, the flourish still teaches me, amazes me, and fills me with the same appreciation I have for a beautiful flower. If you would like to ask me any questions about these courses please reach out through email. I would love to encourage you on your journey and help you to flourish and grow. I firmly believe that Flourishing is easiest of all pointed pen skills to learn and is the key to unlocking confidence and letting go of the fear of a blank page. May you truly Flourish dear friends in this beautiful new year. Sending hugs!