Wednesday, December 22, 2021
Sending all of you around the world a message of Hope as December comes to a close. Many of you will be able to see friends and family in the coming weeks but others may find themselves on their own this season. If you find yourselves with some time on your hands, I filmed a little video that hopefully is simple to follow. My hope is that it brings you a sense of calm and peace during this season as well as a sense of accomplishment. Enjoy the process and let me know how you do! I hope to bring you more video tutorials in the New Year.If you have time the last week of December and want to take a pencil class for drawing The Glittering Vines, registration will be open a few more days through the Pointed Pen Collective. We will learn the pencil stage on December 29th and then illuminate and paint the beautiful border vines on January 19th. An earlier blog post explains a bit of my thinking about the pencil process. I really consider the peace that the process brings to me as I work though these special designs.
online. If you want to practice on your own from the resource that inspired my own version of Italian Hand, I recommend the inexpensive bool George Bickham's Penmanship Made Easy.
Pages 29 and 32 still make my heart skip a beat when I see the simplicity and beauty of the letterforms.
After dancing with Italian Hand for the past 10 years, it still brings me such a sense of delight and joy.
A truly lighthearted hand that allows you to play and investigate endless possibilities. As this year draws to a close, if we are watching the news closely, uncertainty and fear can easily creep into our minds. I can recover a sense of peace, calm and even hope as I pick up my pen, brush or pencil. So many of you have written to me through in emails, wonderful card,s and letters telling me the same thing. Chase hope this season dear friends. Nurture yourselves. Find a sense of calm and peace. The work you are creating with your own hands is leaving me speechless as I see you reach new heights. Keep going! From my heart to yours dear friends, have a beautiful season. I can't wait to to welcome the New Year with you.
Friday, December 10, 2021
Happy December dear friends. 2021 has been another uncertain year but despite the news around us there has been a sense of wonder, delight and beauty. We may have needed to dig a bit deeper at times to find those moments, but they were certainly part of the year. I want to thank my dear friends and students who have taken the time to write, send messages or emails with their thoughts, images of their work, gardens and even decorated Christmas trees. Your notes have brought joy to my life and I feel like friendships are growing. The beauty of the work of your hands has really been a joy to watch evolve over the past year. I feel honoured and blessed to be a small part of your creative journeys and I look forward to the new year and watching new works of art spring to life. I know many of you will meet me in online classes and as private students and we will continue our conversations there. But for now, I hope you find peace in this December season. Take some time for yourself. Brew your favourite seasonal tea and use your best china cup for the occasion. Light a special candle and enjoy the warmth of the glow. Read a bit of your favourite book and just take time to pause. This is the only December we will have in 2021. Notice the details. Right now my garden is covered in snow but the squirrels are still entertaining me with their acrobatics as they jump from the pine tree to my garden swing. The scene is so familiar but always draws my gaze for a few quiet moments. Whatever is surrounding you this December, I hope you know that your friendship is so appreciated. Thank you for sharing your time with me. Thank you for being part of my classes this past year. I feel so blessed to accompany you on your own creative path. I look forward to seeing you in 2022 and sharing new thoughts and insights. Sending hugs to you all and please keep in touch. You can email me at email@example.com for my 2022 teaching schedule. If you want to see my Christmas 2021 Youtube video, it is now on my channel. Happy December dear friends.
Monday, November 29, 2021
It seems like we blink and month expires. Here we are at the end of November. I am almost finished up with my teaching schedule for the year. It seems like the studio desk was bustling from one day to the next and I am so very grateful to my dear students, friends, and colleagues who hosted my online courses. There is more to come in 2022 and I hope to dig deeper in areas that have been requested by students. I have some new courses coming up! If you would like my upcoming confirmed teaching schedule, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send it to you. I hope whatever classes or techniques you have explored this year have brought you peace and joy! Thank you to all of you who have sent me such kind notes of encouragement. I appreciate your thoughts and I love seeing your work.
As we embark on the festive season in a world that is still so stressful, I wanted to share something special with you. One of my closest companions on my studio desk is the humble pencil.
This low maintenance, analog tool is the first one I reach for as I am toying with ideas. It is quiet and patient with me and yields to erasing easily. It builds my confidence as I slowly come to conclusions about paths I should take in my work. It helps me formulate ideas and thoughts into more complex work on the page.
It can be easily overlooked as we want to quickly proceed to the vibrancy of colour and the joys of gilding or painting. But the pencil provides the stability and structure of the design. In all honesty, I succeed or fail with a project at the pencil stage. Sometimes the sharp point of the pen and the permanency of ink embeds a bit of stress into my process. There is such peace with working with the humble pencil. I know I have stressed this before, but pencil work translates into skills with the pen. I have many journals of sketches, ideas, quotes and layouts that are so fulfilling to use and refer back to.
Although most of my flourishing work is done in true offhand style without pencil work, the Glittering Vines, Enchanted Meadows, Enchanted Letters and Alphabet Gardens all start with pencil plans. If you want to explore some of my pencil play late December, my dear friends at the Pointed Pen Collective will be hosting the course Pencil Lines for Glittering Vines.
You will have plenty of time after the class to design with the simplicity of pencil before we have the second class in January where you can gild and paint your design.
My hope as the year advances, you will be able to expand and enhance your techniques as well as I slow down and take a deeper dive in subject specific classes. I also want to share my research and study methods with you. I tend to go head first into a subject and love to share what I have discovered over the year. Pencil drawing is the root of my animal designs and I will be teaching The Enchanted Meadow through The Gentle Penman in January as well.
You can also look for a special Valentine course soon through The Gentle Penman where we focus on some precious birds to study. Once again...we begin in pencil!
I have also agreed to run encore presentations of The Alphabet Garden and Flowering Flourish for the Ardington School of Crafts. Ardington classes are strategically kept very small. I have more time to look at student work and our final session is a Q&A session with lots of feedback.
Tuesday, November 2, 2021
I think I mention this every year in my blog posts but November mornings always draw my eyes toward their spectacular light. There is some sort of shift that happens with the light. Maybe it is the changing leaves, or the crisp air or the bounce in the steps of the squirrels but November captures my gaze. I can feel the threat of winter but I know that winter will pass. From the warmth of my studio and the bright windows, I can work away in peace and quiet. I appreciate this time.
The pencil never judges. It allows us to make corrections. It allows us to think on paper and really play with the work before we finalize with ink. My Pentel Graph Gear 1000 mechanical pencil is my favourite to use, but lately I have been reaching for my Blackwing pencils. The Blackwing is so smooth and fluid on the paper as I sketch my designs. It does need to be constantly sharpened though but that is all part of the process. I have some courses coming up that will involve more time for drawing.It is the fundamental backbone of so many skills we want to incorporate into our calligraphic work. I am convinced that if we spend a bit more time with the humble pencil, we refine skills that translate with pen and brush. I still love working in my gridded journals and I have been having fun looking at older sketches that translated into paintings for my Enchanted Meadow series.
Monday, October 18, 2021
I hope you are enjoying a beautiful autumn day. Here in Ontario, it feels quite cool but the skies are bright blue. The chickadees, cardinals, bluejays and nuthatches have been busy at feeders and continue to inspire.This past weekend I was able to teach via Zoom for The Friends of the Alphabet in Atlanta. I was thrilled to be able to present my Alphabet Garden course slowly. I had two full days with the group so we could draw, ink, gild and paint the letters together in real time. I did not have to rush the process. The students created stunning and inspiring work. I was able to present both the inlay and overlay painting methods for my students and I was thrilled to have this relaxed pace. This class really had the feel of an in person workshop as I could review their work via email and offer feedback. This initial was painted with two colours using Small Blue and Sap green.
The R was painted with Quinacridone Gold, Transparent Orange, Sap Green and Burnt Sienna.
Texas Lettering Arts also hosted the International Calligraphy Conference online this year. The recordings for each of the presentations are available for purchase if you want to see what was presented at the conference in July.
Monday, October 4, 2021
I was up early on the weekend and sat on the studio porch watching streams of leaves fall in the the neighbour's back yard. Seasonal changes happen so quickly. I am enjoying pumpkin spice teas and festive colours as I flourish here at my studio desk.
I am grateful for this work and for all of my beautiful students. I have been so encouraged to see the work you have done and I hope that you find the time spent with pen and ink to be peaceful and meditative. Between now and the end of the year I will be teaching quite a few classes. Several guilds have me on their schedule starting with the Michigan Association of Calligraphers this coming weekend. I will be presenting The Festive Flourish course which was my first holiday themed flourishing class designed around cookie cutter shapes! quote for me and I think of it as I watch this season emerge. From my studio desk to yours, I hope you find wonder in this season and joy in the work you do each day. I am so grateful for each of you!
Thursday, September 23, 2021
I have been overwhelmed this month with work on my studio desk as I get ready for workshops and continue to develop new courses. I am finding inspiration everywhere and I am watching some magical transformations in my work. This month I have been exploring some different gold techniques as I work on illuminated letters. I have also been drawing quite a bit and the drawing techniques are coming out in some offhand flourishes. There are many times that I work at my desk and recall conversations I had with Brian Walker. Brian and I corresponded regularly through email and he was always telling me about the 'craftsmanship' of calligraphy work. Brian made his own ink and his own gesso for his work. I have not tried serious ink making yet, but I do make my own gesso using Brian's recipe and have been making my own shell gold for the illuminations. You really feel like something magical is happening when you create your own shell gold.
When combined with the drawing of letters, botanical elements, birds, butterflies and ornaments, I finally had a lightbulb moment of what Brian had been saying to me for years in the past. A magic emerges on the paper at some point in time. Your skills evolve over time. We never learn things all at once. You take the time that is needed to complete the project. There is magic there! There is magic in time and in process. You can watch your skills develop...slowly! I live in a sort of creative tension here in the studio. I earn a living through workshops, painted pens, private tutoring and commissioned art. All of these endeavours require a lot of time and yet I still have creative pursuits that I need to explore to grow as an artist. And there is the tension. The struggle between deadlines and continuing to grow. I don't have a solution for the this but I have learned how to pause and play. Sometimes, I have to explore and idea, get it out on paper and work with it a bit before I return to a task or a deadline. You will find these moments in your day when an idea hits you. At the very least, write that idea down on paper and return to it when you can. Explore the idea. Draw a bit, write a bit or paint a bit. Understand, that you don't have to complete the whole idea in a rush. It will take time to explore and then do properly. Time is really a huge part of the process. I want to encourage you to explore the ideas that have been knocking on your heart even if you can't commit to the full project yet. Just begin...bit by bit...little by little... and see what emerges. I suspect that there is some magic and some joy waiting for you there.
I will be launching some new courses in the Spring. I am getting ready for a Holiday version of The Dancing Line with The Gentle Penman the first weekend in October. This expands on flourishing techniques that merge with the upcoming festive season. At the request of many, we will be adding birds to our designs. Hopefully there will be time to explore the tonal values that can be built up in monochromatic designs. They are such fun to do and you don't need tons of art supplies for them.The Flowering Flourish and a Spring Edition of Alphabet Garden. These classes will be very small. I am able to work a bit more closely with the students and you will have time to refine your designs as we work on the projects. I always revise my notes as I prepare for each course. I know there is more in the notes than we can possibly cover in class, but my ultimate hope is that you will create your own designs. I hope to be just a starting point for your own creativity.
Wednesday, September 1, 2021
I conveniently just completed an illuminated Letter S just in time for September. This piece was gilded using my Brian Walker recipe gesso, 23K gold leaf, watercolour, ink and Swarovski crystals.
Soon my beloved days of summer will fade and we will welcome the first days of autumn. I always have such a hard time transitioning into the fall and winter season. I feel like I grieve for the greens of spring and petal pinks of summer. I am determined to find the joy that each day brings no matter what date is on the calendar. This month will likely be very quiet on the blog as I work on new handouts for upcoming courses. But I welcome the time to refine my thoughts and prepare for these classes.I always put more in the notes than we can possibly cover in the class but I hope my students will be able to explore the notes well after the classes have ended. Today I spent a beautiful day of drawing and painting. I keep a very small sketchbook for Enchanted Meadow creatures.
The little animals and birds are often the most difficult part of my design process but they add so much to border designs and illuminated letters. Your sketchbook is not a place of judgment. It is a place of growth and experiments. You never have to show it to anyone else but you will be able to flip back through the pages and see how your work has evolved. When I travelled to teach, my sketchbook always came with me along with a pencil and eraser. The practice of drawing can be a wonderful companion. The simplicity of just pencil, paper and eraser adds to the appeal. And just like writing, the practice of drawing or sketching can be so peaceful and meditative.
Sunday, August 29, 2021
I began playing with this hand, I believe, about 10 years ago. Despite some stern warnings from colleagues that I should not try to revive this hand or bother with it all, Italian Hand held many intriguing mysteries for me and I absolutely loved it. Through the study of this lighthearted hand, I could feel and see a sense of play develop in my work. There was a visible as well as a tactile change to the pressure I put on the paper as I wrote this script. There was an interruption in my usual thinking patterns as I continued to pursue this hand. As I gleaned from history, I also began to merge this script with my own writing nuances. I discovered so much on this path that I think would have remained hidden to me, if I had not trusted my own instincts. There were definitely shadows along my path but also bright rays of hope as I continued to learn. My message this morning is to encourage you to pursue what makes you happy. If something is intriguing to you, don't be afraid to dive in and take a look at it. Time doesn't slow down no matter what we have to do. Even if a topic of study seems really daunting, realize that you really can take your time to explore it. When I teach my script hands, I share an immersive study technique to begin with, but afterwards, you can dance with the pen as slowly as you like.
Really take your time to observe and understand. Trust your instincts. Develop ideas that appeal to you and then go where that path leads. Enjoy these last few days of August before we shift into the different pace of Autumn. Thank you all for your encouragement, support, photos from your gardens and kind emails. I appreciate you all so much. Happy August days dear friends.
Sunday, August 15, 2021
I can't believe it is already the 15th of August. Time really does fly by. I hope you are all enjoying these August days. I am working hard on my upcoming classes but I take a tea break in the garden every day to enjoy the sights and sounds! Cherish the wonder of each day.
I promised to update my blog with the next few classes that are coming up. Over the weekend of September 4th and 5th, I will be teaching my Italian Hand class called The Poetic Pen, through Acorn Arts Classes online. Italian Hand has transformed my thinking and my writing over the past several years. The Poetic Pen class is the result of original research as well as consulting with my friend and historian Don Marsh. The way I approach the hand is through looking at history and then finding a way to merge the nuances and joy of the hand with my own pace and style of of writing. There is a magic that happens when you interrupt what you think should happen with a written script with the delights that are embedded in historical forms. No matter what your skill level is, Italian Hand has something to offer you. It really is a transformative hand filled with joy and whimsical touches.
October will be a very full month for me as I teach my Holiday edition of The Dancing Line for The Gentle Penman. The Dancing Line will expand on the basics I taught in the Artful Flourish but will work on really refining your strokes, developing your eye and expanding your ideas for flourishing. It will have a component for birds and scrolls but I will go beyond that into Holiday themes.