Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Easy Layout Tutorial

I have been enjoying the Live Chats on Instagram that have been hosted by the European Pointed Pen Collective. You can view some of the past videos here. Sunday's chat was with Dr. Joe Vitolo. Back in 2003, when I was trying to figure out all of the nuances of the pointed pen ( without the help of Instagram or Youtube all those years ago) Joe was instrumental in advising me how to proceed and introducing me to IAMPETH. Through IAMPETH, I met my mentors and my dearest friends and really changed the course of my career path as I eventually became a professional calligrapher. Joe's words of "pay it forward" have really stuck with me. This little tutorial is my way of sharing with you during this difficult time. I want you to continue to find joy in the journey as you put pen to paper and expand your skills. Maria Helena gives a very inspiring LiveChat which is also available on the EPPC's website. My method for layout is very simple. I mainly use a centred layout or a left justified. My method for layout it "old school" having learned it from Michael Sull during one of my early times at The Spencerian Saga. I choose to continue to use this old school method as it really helps me to work out the nuances of the words as well as embed the wording in my head. I am someone who needs to experience the rhythm of the writing and see how the words unfold on the paper in front of me.
 Once my text is determined, I choose the script as well as the guidelines I want to use. This particular commission was to be done in Spencerian Script. The guidelines I used were Michael Sull's Handwriting Sheet A. I write the words using the guide sheets on layout paper to get a measurement of how long each line will be. I do this stage in ink rather than pencil.I want the layout to be reflective of the materials that will be used in the final piece. This first time writing also helps me to become fluid and familiar with the words as I write them.
I  also get a sense of how the lines will interact with each other. Once the words are written, I measure each line as well as the height of the written piece. This helps me to determine the size of the paper I will need for my layout. The paper choice for this piece was a 9x12 sheet of Stonehenge Aqua Cold Press Paper. I wanted a little bit of texture on this design. I used McCaffery Black ink and watercolour for the Victorian Line and Wash Technique of the florals.
Next, I will pencil a centre line on my guidesheet as well on my art paper.
The centre pencil line serves as a registration mark for me. On this  particular piece, I also drew a pencil line of an oval as a boundary for my border flourish. I use Scotch Repositionable tape and to adhere the guidesheet to the art paper. The Scotch tape will not leave any residue on the art paper and will not damage the paper when it is removed.
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.
I did not have an oval template that was large enough for this piece but there are many that you can find online and print out to serve as your guide. Let me know how you do with this tutorial. I would love to see your work! Pick up the pen and flourish my dear friends. You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com if you want to chat or if you want more info about private tutorials online. Sending hugs all around.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Italian Hand

Yesterday I had the honour of doing an Instagram Live Chat hosted by the European Pointed Pen Collective.  You can find them on Instagram through @learnpointedpen. We wanted to discuss Italian Hand as I hope to visit Europe again in September to teach this hand in person.Throughout the past few weeks Kate and Cecilia have been hosting some inspiring live chats. I have loved them all. When I started studying Italian Hand about 10 years ago I went into an avenue of research that was entirely new to me. I looked through my history books, researched online and consulted my friend and historian Don Marsh who has an incredible knowledge of the hand. However, this hand is shrouded in lots of mystery that still intrigues me and causes me to investigate further. I could not dive into all the details during the live chat but hopefully I stirred up some interest.  You can find a treasure trove of copybooks online now at the pennavolans website. Some of my favourite resources can be found there. I want this blog post to be a bit of a starting point for you if you want to dive a little deeper. I do offer private tutorials in this hand ideally taught over a period of six weeks. You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com for details. The first book I started with was George Bickham's Penmanship Made Easy
which is a Dover reprint and readily available. You won't find any instructions on how to do the hand but you will find it contrasted with English Roundhand so you can clearly see the differences in weights of shade, spacing and the compression of the script. If you only had this one resource, you could easily start to navigate the script. Page 32 pictured here was one of my guiding pages as I started to put the script together.
When I study this page, I look for the clues it gives me. I look at the placement of shades, the delicacy of the terminal lobes on the capital letters, the compression of the letterforms and the simplicity of the script. The exercise in observation helps acquaint my mind with the letters. It is really only through the process of the mind being able to see the letters that your hand can eventually catch up and start to do what is clearly envisioned in your mind. I can't stress enough the power of observation. In the beginning, I enlarged the page from the book so I could really see the details clearly.Practice in pencil and draw the weighted shades if that helps you to understand the hand. Observe the simplicity of these capitals. The real beauty of Italian Hand lies in the gentleness and simplicity of the lower case. 
Page 29 also provides wonderful study material. 
The exemplar clearly shows the spacing differences between (Round Text) and (Italian Text.) See how delicately the shades are applied on the Italian Hand. I often do this through a retouch movement that becomes part of the rhythm of my writing. Throughout the years, Italian Hand has become fluid in my thinking process. I can now write this hand more rapidly than my Spencerian Script and English Roundhand. 
Right now, we are navigating some uncertain times. I recognize that a private tutor in calligraphy may not be in the budget.  I wanted this blog post to put some details about the beauty of Italian Hand in front of you so you could start to do some practice on your own. I will gladly add more details about the hand if you find this to be of help to you. I am also working on updated exemplar in my own hand that I will post soon. If you have any questions, by all means email me. I hope you spend some time looking and practicing. I realize I haven't posted every single detail about how to practice this hand. but I hope I generated some interest and intrigue. When I practice, I use a straight holder. This hand does not require an oblique holder.  A good nib to start out with is Hunt 101. Walnut ink is a wonderful ink for practice work. My favourite guide sheets for practicing this hand can be found on the IAMPETH website. I use the 55 degree guide sheets that can be found in this pdf file.My new favourite practice paper is Daler Rowney A4 Layout Paper. As always, feel free to email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com. Let me know how you are doing with Italian Hand. It is a delight to practice and it will dramatically lighten your touch with the pen. Enjoy!

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Sharing Hope

Hope has become my word for the year. Right now it seems more important than ever to maintain a hopeful mindset. I find myself having to really guard my thoughts and carefully guard my time. Each evening at 3:00 PM, I join some beautiful friends online for a calligraphy social and we spend time together painting, or flourishing, or writing or just taking a pause. I have come to look forward to those afternoon sessions as such a special time. This past week I spent a few of those sessions peacefully painting this little project. The people who have joined the calligraphy social are friends that I met while in Europe lastt fall. This piece is reflective of my last evening in Rome. My friend Cecilia took me on a walk to a little place called the Little House of the Owls. The little swiss cabin built on the property is filled with art nouveau influenced windows and designs. When I planned this design I was remembering some of the colours that I saw in that house. The Lombardic style initials here are painted with Schmincke Naples Yellow and then toned with a bit of Quinacridone Gold. The sage tones of the leaves are painted with Schmincke Green Earth and the Purple tones in the piece are  Schmincke Prussian Blue Violet. The blue of the butterfly is painted with Kremer Pigments Ultramarine Blue Very Dark. The palette for this design was put together after my trip to New York City last year when I purchased some Kremer Dry Pigments. The Schmincke colours were purchased to try to create a very muted illumination palette.  I fought the desire to fill this painting with pink blooms. Pink is always my default setting but these days I have been reaching for some softer colours in my work. As I painted this piece, I was reminded of how much of art is dependent on hope.
As we paint, or write or flourish, we are hopeful that the strokes will come together and form a pleasing result. Hang on to Hope these days!!! Keep picking up your brush or your pen and clear your mind as you work. Let the process truly become a mindful experience. Nurture hope. I am here via email if you want to chat. You can contact me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com. I am wishing you all a beautiful Easter weekend as I send you virtual hugs.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Heart and Home

Happy April dear friends. I hope you are keeping well. This is indeed a strange and stressful time, unlike anything we have experienced before. These days I find myself being so grateful for things that I used to take for granted. My routine has changed and I am getting used to a "new normal" as I am sure you are too. I find myself visiting my home library much more often and appreciating what is on the shelf. Over the years, I seem to have collected not only art supplies, papers, inks and paints but an abundance of books. Each one served a particular purpose when I purchased it but it is time to revisit the pages and wisdom on the shelf. There is so much to glean from each page. I encourage you to visit your home library and revisit an old friend on the shelf. Right now, we have the time and the effect can be such a welcome pause during this unique time.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared a Spring wreath tutorial with you and had so many thankful emails. I am so glad you enjoyed the tutorial. I have added a few more images here of the same idea, but expanded to a heart design. You begin the same way with a simple heart outline. Bear in mind that your pencil outline will need to be erased so keep the line light and delicate. If you use a B pencil it really helps to deliver a very faint line on the paper. When I want to incorporate some calligraphy in the flourish, the lettering is always done first. When writing a single word I often use a pencil line for the baseline and the x-height.

When I begin a heart flourish, I usually turn the heart shape so the point is facing away from body. I then begin to flourish along the right hand side of the heart with the small cartouche strokes and floral clusters. Before doing the left hand side of the heart, I make sure that the right side is dry. You don't want to accidentally brush your hand through wet ink.
Proceed the same way as outlined in the wreath flourish tutorial. This flourish was painted with watercolour and embellished with finetec gold and the Sakura Clear Stardust Gelly Roll Pen. I used McCaffery brown ink on Strathmore Bristol Vellum Paper. 
The same method applies to any shape and size. The layout method is a bit different for something as large as the oval design pictured, but the flourishing technique is the same. 
The final image is a group of flourishes I completed for The European Pointed Pen Collective Envelope exchange. The floral flourishes are painted freely in watercolour rather than the Victorian Line and Wash method but the flourishing method is similar.
Whatever you decide to try, I am here to answer any questions.  You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com.  Remember that you do not need to use the same supplies that I use. I encourage you to start with what you have and try your hand at this peaceful and meditative art form. With my travel schedule being altered at the moment, I have more time for online private sessions. If you are interested in more details about The Artful Flourish course, The Enchanted Meadow, The Enchanted Letter, Italian Hand or any of my other workshops please contact me and I will be happy to send you info. Keep calm and Flourish On dear friends. We are in this together.