Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Home and Away

 Back home after a teaching weekend with the Chicago Calligraphy Collective. It was a great weekend meeting new students and seeing familiar faces. The venue was moved to The Irish American Cultural Centre which was a fascinating backdrop for the class. I could hear Irish music being practiced, strolled through the huge library of Irish books and even peeked in on a dancing class!

I did not photograph all of the tutorial projects we worked on but did manage to get a shot of the Florentine inspired pink foliate spray. We work through all of the stages of design and then painting these small, decorative sprays. 
Now I am in process of unpacking my tools and cleaning up the studio space. This is my longest stretch home before more travel begins in July. I am always feeling that my tools are familiar friends. I have those who travel with me and those who only come out to play while I am home. This is especially true of my palettes.
What have become the most lightweight and convenient are the Daniel Smith Dot Cards.
What a wonderful way to sample all of the colours before investing in the tubes of paint. My small John Neal palette of my favourite colours has been in use since November of 2016. Still lots of pigments on the card it will work for several more workshops. Without question, the most economical way of students getting the colours they need for my workshops which tend to have a large supply list! The Mijello travel palettes often accompany me on my teaching trips and are never far from reach here at home. They are extremely lightweight and convenient.
I believe I have the same palette addiction as I do journal addiction, so I seem to have a Mijello pallete in any colour and size that I could find!
The silver palette has more wells to fill and lots of room to mix the paint.
All of these Mijello palettes work well in my classes and for my miniature painting. My botanical studies though, required greater space to mix washes of watercolours. The simple white porcelain paint serves this purpose well.
Lots of mixing room ( and you know I have several sizes of these plates including one that is more like a platter!) and the surface allows for pools of washes that don't bead up they way they do on a plastic surface. Wonderful for at home work, but not remotely convenient for travel. The wooden paint box is an overindulgence in my need to see my colors!
The little half pans are numbered and then rest on the base of the box with glue dots to hold them in place. But be asssured that those glue dots are not permanent. Thankfully the numbering system has helped me as the box got overturned and needed to be sorted out again! So it is very cute, but not convenient for travel. It does come out to play here at home when I need very specific colours for botanical work. But too many choices is sometimes more trouble than it is worth. I don't limit myself to a double primary palette and do like adding pigments to my paint boxes. But all of the toys don't improve our skills. Careful study, attention to detail and the passion for the artform are far more important! All that being said, I love returning home and putting the travel friends alongside the home friends. I was equally grateful to be greeted by my lone blue anemone.
The only one to survive the squirrels and such a happy sight to see. A wonderful welcome home.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Life of A Journal

I know I have shared about my passion for keeping journals. I have them everywhere. If there is ever a worldwide shortage of journals, just open one of my studio cupboards. They are there in row upon row. Every size and binding colour! But inside, there is a common element...the grid squares.
 After all of these years of calligraphy, I still can't draw a straight line! The gridded squares really help with the planning.

They keep me centred and give me some reasonable lines to work with. As I flip through the pages of journals on the go and journals retired, I can see pencil record of my progress. I can watch skills evolve. The pages are personal. Often recorded in airports during long layovers. They are portable peace. Sometimes I add a hint of colour but most pages are just pencil. If you haven't already started a journal of your sketch ideas, thoughts or projects, I can't recommend it highly enough. Keep pencil, eraser and journal handy to capture inspiration or to process your ideas. See if it transforms your work. As you flip back through the pages  you record, watch your work evolve and be encouraged by the changes you see. The Leuchtturm 1917 is still my favourite journal to work in. The pages are a bit heavier than Moleskine and the grid lines are not intrusive.