Sunday, December 1, 2019

December Again!

Once again, it is December and I turn my calendar page. Outside my studio window, I see an ice rink! We are having our fisrt ice storm of the season. The birds and squirrels are nowhere to be found but I will fill their feeders just in case. For the past few days, I have been painting a small study piece. I get so inspired by seeing the birds in the branches and I want to capture that beauty. Nature is so elusive and I want to appreciate the small moments of peace and wondet that it provides. Even in icy weather, I find that I crack open my studio window just a bit in case I can hear a bird chirping in the background!
The pace of paitning is slow and methodical but very peaceful. I have been charmed by these versal style letters lately and it seemed to be a perfect resting space for my little bird. I will continue to explore these designs as I get ready to launch a new course called "The Alphabet Garden" based on a Victorian style of versal letter. 

My Festive Flourishing Students are coming into their 5th week of Bootcamp practice! It has been a delight to watch their work progress on Instagram and Facebook. I am so delighted to see so many festive flourishes. As I watched the work progress, I remembered some of my early flourishes and even went through some archived photos of my work. The struggle and the journey is very real! None of my current skills came easily to me. They were hard won with lots of practice, time on task and frustration. But underlying every practice session was the desire to acquire the skills I longed for. 
No matter where you are in your artistic journey, my reminder for you is to stay passionate. Love what you are doing and forget the notion of a finish line. It does not exist in this journey. Skills continue to build and evolve. Take all the time you need ( and then some!) Sending hugs across the miles and I hope you find time to pick up the pen or the brush and play a little! Happy December dear friends. I love hearing from you through email. You can reach me at Thank you for reading the blog and if you need to reach out, I am only ever an email away.

Thursday, November 7, 2019

The Magic of Place

I am officially home from my travels. My penmanship, gilding and painting tools have been cleaned, sorted and returned to their proper places in my studio. There is such a magic involved in returning home restoring the studio to a sense of order. I try to leave surfaces clean when I leave for travels but always seem to need to clean again when I return home.
My travel time to Europe was amazing. I loved the sights and sounds of Rome and London. I feel like part of my heart stayed there.

 I was able to visit the V&A museum in London to view the Beatrix Potter exhibit. What a delight to see her original work and to see the actual pencil lines she placed on the paper. Her ink lines were also so delicate but lively at the same time. What a treat to see true mastery.

Here at home, I will be working through the winter. I am designing my Christmas card at the moment while also putting final touches on a new workshop I will be releasing to IAMETH in 2020. Although this time of year is generally a bit slower for me as I don't need to travel, my daily planner is overflowing with private students and deadlines to hit for commission work as well as some personal goals. I am trying not to let the peace of my studio lull me to sleep! Wishing you all a beautiful November and hoping that you can find peace and solitude in your surroundings as you work on whatever projects bring you delight. 

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Some Painting Thoughts

October is here in its beautiful glory. I appreciate each bloom in the garden, each bird sighting and the  rabbits that continue to visit the yard. I appreciate the view from my studio window so much. I am currently working on completing this bunny illumination. This painting process is slow, methodical and very meditative. I have painted everything so far with a Isabey 6229 size 3 miniature brush. I am using old stock of Fabriano Artistico Hot Press paper and grieving that the paper is no longer available with this amazing quality. It is perfect for this dry brush technique. I really have not found a paper that compares to this old stock of Fabriano.
The underpainting and drawing stage of an illumination take the most time for me. The painting technique is entirely dry brush. I am combining my tried and true dry brush hatching technique with more of a modelling dry brush stage to sculpt dimension.  Even the acanthus has been dry brushed. I was actually dreaming about painting this piece and the colour scheme for the acanthus came to mind. I believe the alstroemeria flowers on my desk influenced the colours. The leaves have been entirely underpainted in a soft yellow and then brushed with rose madder and sap green. I will continue to build up the layers. There are many hours left to go in this design and I don't actually want to rush through to completion. I am still unsure of what colours to add to the florals but that is part of this underpainting stage. It is ok to be unsure of a process and wait until you are ready to proceed.  I have often rushed to completion and been unhappy with the results. Looking forward to seeing what happens with this piece as I finish it up. Sending warm autumn hugs to you all and hope you enjoy whatever projects are on your desk. Take your time...enjoy the process. 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

The Studio in September

It already feels like fall here in Ontario, Canada. A drive through Cambridge yesterday showed lots of  maple trees showing their early autumn splendour. It is a gorgeous time of year although I always difficulty as the last of the summer blooms in the garden start to fade. This year, the morning glories were really late to bloom as our friendly neighbourhood group of bunnies must have thought the seedlings were delicious. But the bunnies are so cute, we forgave them instantly.

I thought I would show you a few shots around the studio today. The best morning light hits my studio window around 8:30 AM these days and starts my solar power rainbow maker. I love to see the  light dancing around the room and the sound that it makes is very gentle and peaceful. It is one of my favourite parts of the day.

My view from my desk is my meditation garden, the bird feeders and the bird bath. I continue to work in silence for the most part with the windows open so I can hear the birds. Sometimes the backyard is a bit too inviting and I take a break on the garden swing with a book. I restock the feeders with peanuts and the bluejays and squirrels are in the garden to entertain me within a few minutes. It's amazing how energized I get through the quiet and calm of the garden. I am always so thankful for this oasis.

 I believe I mentioned in a previous post how influential Randall Hasson's class at IAMPETH was for me. He really opened my eyes to so many possibilities and I have been in research mode ever since.  It's amazing when a one day class can have such a long lasting impact.
 Research for me is a winding road. I go off as many bunny trails as I can find and then a lightbulb just goes on for me. My path lately has taken me deep into Medieval Manuscript study, Typography of the 20's and 30's, Vintage Lettering styles and Art Nouveau influences. All roads for me eventually lead back to the Victorian Era and I am taking a fresh look at some very old things! It has been a wonderful summer journey and it will likely stretch way into the New Year and longer. I can't wait to show you some of the things I am diving into as I get ready to launch some new classes. Right now I will give you a peek at some Victorian style Versal Letters I have been working on.

Last July, my dear friend Brian Walker passed away. I have missed him so much but his influence over my thinking process remains. He always told me to study as much as I practice. Those words have really become my mantra as I teach others. Study is never wasting time. It is helping to inform your practice as well as kick starting the inspiration process. My words of advice in this post would be that if you feel a bit stuck in your work or your practice time seems like it has hit a plateau, change gears and take some time to study. Look at things that inspire you, read something that brings you joy, take a walk and study nature, observe your surroundings and breathe the air of the new season you are in. Don't fight against that plateau, just change your perspective about it and see what happens as a result.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

August Already!!!!

Why does the summer fly by so quickly???? I am loving being home for a few weeks before starting up my final travels for fall. I am catching up on commission work as well as doing new exemplars for my Festive Flourish class.  I can share a peek at a commission I just completed.
I have a few more illuminated initials to do and will share them when they are completed. I enjoyed flourishing this butterfly piece which was donated to the IAMPETH silent auction.

 IAMPETH was a wonderful experience. The highlight of the conference for me was taking a class with Randall Hasson. We explored lettering from the 20's and 30's which included using Speedball A, B, and D nibs. Of course I had these treasures in my collection but I left the class with a real appreciation for what these versatile nibs could do. Randall is a wonderful teacher! I would jump at an opportunity to study with him again in the future.

 Once I got home I spent time researching these nibs as well as the styles of lettering from the 20's and 30's.  It will be nice to see where this leads. I will end the blog post with a few shots from my garden. The day after I returned from IAMPETH I put on gardening gloves and tackled the weeds. I enjoyed every minute of it! Great to be home. Great to enjoy the splendor of nature, even if it includes weeds.

The yellow rose was taken at the Denver Botanic Gardens. If you are ever able to visit there, I highly recommend it. What a gorgeous botanical garden. The monarch butterfly photo was taken in my Mom and Dad's garden.

Saturday, July 6, 2019


I am home briefly. I just returned from The International Calligraphy Conference Rendez-Vous in Sherbrooke, Quebec. It was a great experience and I was so glad to be part of an amazing faculty. Walks on the campus each day were significant.

There was so much to do and so much to prepare for. While taking a break from setting up the classroom, I found a chapel with a Cretan Labryinth near by.  The chapel had gorgeous stained glass windows and beautiful carvings. I walked to it daily and took time to pause in the quiet.

Walking the labryinth was more time for pause. I enjoyed the breeze, the sounds of the birds and the gorgeous green surroundings.  Quebec is beautiful. 

Returning home, I felt so grateful for those times to pause in the day. I know I write about this a lot but pause is as important as pursuit. Sometimes, it doesn't matter how much work there is to be done in a day, how much may be left undone at the end of the day and how busy life gets........pause. Breathe. Just be here now.  The pointed pen especially knows when you are anxious, rushed, or stressed. The breaks and the time for pause are necessary. Hope you are enjoying a beautiful July so far and are flourishing wherever you are. 

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Summer Study

 I have been extremely busy these past weeks and I find I get a bit out of sorts when I am away from the studio for long periods of time. Work gets put aside and sometimes forgotten and I feel like I lose momentum. One way that I recharge and re-align my sense of momentum is just by looking. My long time mentor Brian Walker taught me the value of observation as an important part of study. It's a sill that I honed in on during my botanical illustration course and now I am applying it in other ways. My study time has brought me back to the work of Daniel T. Ames. Daniel Ames is a long time hero of mine and his work is best seen in The Ames Compendium. You can also see one of his notebooks on What is fascinating about Ames is his broad range of styles and his notebooks show very different levels of expertise. Some of the work looks incredibly polished while other pieces look quite rough. This is the very purpose of a notebook, scrapbook or journal. Not all of our work will be our best. Some of it we shudder to let others see. But it is there to capture moments and provides prompts for us to remember key moments or ideas. I am constantly working in mine and love the process of just putting the pencil on paper. I dug out one of my journals from 2010. This one is filled with drawings for Enchanted Letter workshops that I have presented over the years.

The thoughts and techniques are captured on the paper even though the finished design is long gone somewhere. I still remember the process of design through the journal. Some of my pages are more polished than others. Some I wonder what I was thinking at all.
But every page taught me something and I am glad I have it to refer back to.
I tend to go overboard with study. I love learning, honing skills and practicing. But summer schedules can be hard to keep up with. Life can be overwhelming at any season and time can escape no matter what our intentions are. One way you can take some pressure off yourself is just capturing ideas, thoughts or sketches in a journal. Just let it be what it is without a specific goal or study routine. Whether you work in pencil or ink like Daniel Ames, just have the freedom to explore ideas. Pencil practice translates into skills with the pen so don't worry if your journal never sees ink.  If you keep the journal to refer back to, great. If you toss it out at the end of the book, that's great too. It did what it was supposed to do. 

Sunday, May 19, 2019

There is another alphabet......

I stumbled upon this quote the other day and it just seemed perfect for flourishing. I will continue to experiment with these words. Inspiration is everywhere in Spring! From the new buds on trees and branches to the green grass that seems to get a bit brighter every day and the songs of the birds in the yard.  No matter how busy life gets, I am trying hard to notice the details and the little bright spots of beauty in each day. Happy Flourishing.

Monday, April 8, 2019

The Magic of April

I love Spring. Every day is a new beginning. Every day offers a new sight and the songs of the birds are back in full swing! This is my favourite time of year. It doesn't matter how rainy it is, how dreary the skies can be or how soggy the ground is....Spring is here. Blossoms will come, the leaves will return to the trees and the longer days of sunshine are coming back. As I continue to work in my studio on more projects than I can list at the moment, I try to savour the small things that I see around me. Even the beauty of the new growth that is emerging from tulip bulbs or the rose bush causes me to stop and just enjoy. Seasons of life go flying by at an ever-increasing speed it seems. Slow down and just observe the beauty that is around you! Wherever you may be on your artistic or calligraphic journey, don't rush. You are right where you should be, enjoy the journey at every stage and in every season.