Monday, February 22, 2021

The Reason for Flowers

 This morning I am sitting in my studio and watching another batch of snow fall into the yard. I am warm and quiet at my desk just wanted to send out a few thoughts. One of the books I dusted off from my library shelf this month is The Reason For Flowers by Stephen Buchmann. It is a fascinating read, going far beyond the beauty of flowers into their many uses and just how deeply important they are to our world. As a florist, I was always aware of their uncanny ability to lift spirits at a glance and have a calming presence. As I continue to work on my Spring Symphony notes I found myself buying flowers a little more often than usual.

Even one or two stems nearby just brighten the room and rejuvenate my focus. I never fail to be in awe of them and appreciate the joy they bring. Things are so strange in this pandemic world right now, but if you have a way of getting some blooms into your house, I would encourage it as some self care. If not, I think even looking at pictures of flowers can be soothing! Thank you to all of you dear friends who send me photos of flowers that are blooming. They have been a delight. My course notes for Spring Symphony are just about completed and there will definitely be an emphasis on florals as I present the course. 

The registration info is available at That being said, I want to continue to emphasize that I realize there is an absolute abundance of courses available online and it can be overwhelming. I find myself wanting to sign up for many things as well but realize that practice and studying on my own is also so valuable. Even though our lives have been disrupted from what we normally do, the concept of time remains the same.  I hope whatever decisions you are making about courses, that you are finding time to practice the techniques you enjoy doing and explore the possibilities with those techniques. 
Finally, I want to thank you all for continuing to post your beautiful work from Notes for the New Year and Works of Heart. I am so thankful for the European Pointed Pen Collective and The Gentle Penman for hosting the courses for me. They do the administration work behind the scenes so I can do the work of getting ready to teach. More soon in my March post dear friends. Sending hugs all around. 

Monday, February 1, 2021

Works of Heart

I can hardly believe it is already February and I have turned another calendar page. Here in Ontario, Canada we are still in lockdown but I feel grateful for my quiet little studio with a view of the back yard. The squirrels are entertaining to watch and bright cardinals and blue jays still frequent the bird feeders. I feel so refreshed when I see the colourful bird next to the snow. It seems like I just finished up my Notes for the New Year class. Thank you all for your response and for showing me the beautiful work you have been creating. I am so happy that these gorgeous Victorian notes are being sent all over the world and bringing joy to so many people. This coming weekend I will be teaching a special Works of Heart Flourishing class through The Gentle Penman. This is a short course where we constrain the shape of the flourished design to a heart. I just completed the notes for the course and I will share as much as I can during the class.The image above was done with Victorian Pen Etching technique with Madder Red Schmicke Gouache. I enjoyed the mindful process of ink etching and then gradually adding the shading techniques. Bilateral designs can present some flourishes. Many want to default to achieving perfect symmetry but I will offer alternative solutions to the design.

The 10th Anniversary Edition of The Enchanted Letter is progressing well. I am in the process of getting some of my new thinking on paper about these Victorian letters.  The pencil stage is always my most creative and playful stage of the letter. Everything is an open possibility. There is nothing I can do at this stage that cannot be undone. If you think you can't draw or embellish these intricate letters, let me assure you that we start simply and build up the designs through one simple step at a time.  I know that I have stated this in other blog posts, but I can't emphasize enough the relationship that can be built into your calligraphic pursuits with the simple, unassuming,  utilitarian pencil. When I am learning a new script, I can get the rhythm into my head and hand by using the pencil. Drawing has never come naturally to me and I am one who needs to do a lot of erasing as I work. If you keep a light touch on the pencil, this is never a problem. That light touch with a pencil carries over into your pen and brush work.  The eraser itself helps take some of the fear out of the design process. I have filled several journals with pencil sketches of these Enchanted Letters. Some were converted into finished designs, and others just sit quietly in my journal. I never look at those unadorned letters as a waste of time. All of these stages of my process are helping me as I  build skills. Remember that your journal does not judge you. It is really meant to be a holding place of ideas for your eyes only. 
Borders have been an integral part of The Enchanted Letter since it launched in 2011. This B initial has been gilded and I just completed the inking stage of the letter.

There are still lots of possible pathways I can take for this letter but the lines and the gilding are now permanent. I have been juggling multiple deadlines these days and I don't want to rush the painting process. I want to go slowly and enjoy the painting part of this letter. I will share the initial when it is completed. I know I have stated this before but I will reiterate it here. There are so many online opportunities for you to explore these days. I don't want anyone to be overwhelmed by signing up for too many things. Enjoy your studies and the opportunities that are available. Or take time to digest and absorb what you have already received. The 10th Anniversary Enchanted Letter is coming in May to The Gentle Penman. That gives me lots of time to prepare. I will share insights here on my blog as I work on the new notes and I hope you tune in for the updates. Sending February hugs across the miles to you my sweet friends. Thank you so much for your photographs, phone calls, emails and direct messages. You are such a blessing to me. Have fun with your pens, pencils, inks and papers. Explore possibilities, go slowly and enjoy the journey.