Monday, May 10, 2021

Legacies III Virtual Calligraphy Conference

 I hope you are all having a beautiful May so far. Here in Ontario, the weather is still a bit unstable. It can be rainy and quite cold followed by beautiful warmth. I just take each day as it comes and I am grateful for the hidden joys that I can find. Wherever you are in the world and whatever your situation, I am sending hugs and strength your way. I know this time continues to be challenging for so many of us. You really are in my thoughts and I know that we will get through this. As I continue to work from home I have been preparing for more online courses. Please email me at if you would like my teaching schedule. I continue to work one on one with private students but I have also been teaching larger classes through Zoom. The Legacies Virtual Calligraphy conference is up and running and I have two one day courses listed. I will be offering Victorian Frames and Labels and The Glittering Vine. Both of these courses are focused on letting me dive deeply in to subject specific areas for the duration of the course. If you took my Notes for the New Year class through the European Pointed Pen Collective you will see a familiar thread in The Victorian Frames and Labels course as I focus on the pen etching technique.  However, as I have continued to study Victorian scraps I am able to take these frames and labels to a different level. I will have fun letting my inner Victorian have full reign in this class. I think what is most fun for me in both of these courses is that we can concentrate on pure decoration and ignore lettering for a little while. I know that might sound scandalous, but sometimes you might not have anything at all to say. Decorative flourishing always saves the day when words can't be found. 
The Glittering Vine combines my love of illuminated manuscripts with a softer palette of colours. I am hoping that those who have been nervous about gilding will find that it is much easier to use than they might have thought.

It adds a shine and brilliance to your work and is a great way to elevate your skills. Once again, the inner Victorian in me will be at work but there is definitely a Medieval and Renaissance feel in these borders.

When I do these special focus courses, I hope that the students can complete a project in class that does not require any lettering. When they leave the class and work with the handouts, my hope is that the skills acquired can augment any lettering style that they choose.  Both of these courses are peaceful and relaxing and I hope theywill bring you a sense of joy and accomplishment. I know that many of you have taken so many courses and might be taking a pause from online content. I totally understand! Do what is best for you in these strange times. From here in Ontario, in another lockdown, I want to encourage you all to continue to do what you love and what brings you joy! Continue to believe that better times are coming and we are one day closer to getting through this. Thank you all for your friendship and support. It means so much to me. I hope to see you in person soon!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Golden Thoughts For May

 Yesterday I learned that dear Michael Ackerson had passed away after his battle with cancer. Michael was a friend I met through IAMPETH. He worked tirelessly at each conference for John Neal Books. I only saw him during conferences but whenever I ordered supplies through John Neal, I would do so by conversing directly with Michael. His warm voice, his laughter and his gentle personality will be so missed. I will never forget him and I am so grateful to have known him. If anyone ever bought one of the dot cards of my favourite Daniel Smith watercolours through John Neal, it was Michael who put those together for us. Even though the note I mailed on April 29th will not be seen by him, it was good for my heart to get some thoughts on paper. 

Every project, written note or flourished image we work on has a bit of our heart and soul in it. I am so grateful for the peace and solace that comes with working with the pen. I am also so thankful for the people we meet in every part of our journey as calligraphic artists. As I prepare for the launch of a few new courses this Summer and Fall, I have had to invest in some refill supplies.  I am also getting lots of questions about the  gilding supplies for The Enchanted Letter which will be presented later this month through The Gentle Penman. This course does use gold leaf. There are so many students new to the world of gilding and are nervous about trying it out. When I teach The Enchanted Letter, one of my goals is to open the world of gilding to people who have not been exposed to it before. I use a contemporary method in this class which is so easy to learn and will start you off in the world of gilding and I hope you never stop exploring that world.
Several students have requested small kits of gilding supplies. Jerry Tresser has put together a small sample kit of the 23K transfer gold leaf  and some of his gilding size which works well for flat gilding. I have been using Jerry's 23K gold leaf for several years and it has a brilliance and shine to it that I prefer to all other golds. The kit is now on his website. I gild almost every day in my studio and go through several full books of gold leaf each year. Once you start gilding, you will find constant opportunities for it. Brian Walker was one of the first ones who encouraged me to gild even if I just put a tiny hint of it here and there. 
I don't want the gold leaf to be a barrier for anyone who is taking the Enchanted Letter course.  If you just want to watch the gilding technique as I demonstrate, you can also use gold watercolour, ink or gouache to add a touch of sparkle to your letters. The gold watercolour that I use is predominantly Schmicke Gold Pan watercolour. This small gold pan will last you for years to come and it has a wonderful luminous quality to it. John Neal currently has it on sale on his website. Paper Ink Arts also supplies it along with the silver pan.
I use very small brushes in my work. I love the Isabey 6229 brushes but they are sable brushes and many students do not want to use animal products. I am trying to find brushes to replace the Isabey brushes and really like the Rosemary and Co series 307 brushes. My technique needs to be adjusted a bit to use these brushes but I am finding them quite useful. Rosemary and Co is a wonderful website for finding the perfect brush. You can request a catalogue from them which makes it much easier to find the brush you are looking for. As I continue to work through the Anniversary Year of Enchanted Letters I am enjoying experimenting with different techniques. This Initial I with foliate extension was gilded with Silver Leaf. That is a bit of a different experience than gold leaf but I loved how it worked with blues and greens. The initial was painted with a limited palette of Daniel Smith Verditer Blue, Payne's Grey and Perylene Green. I think I also mixed a bit of Holbein Shadow Green with leaves.

 I wanted this post to shed some insight on the supplies I use. I am so thankful for all of these suppliers who keep us stocked with what we need. I am happy to support them as they keep us working on what we love to do. I also did a blog post for Offhand Flourishing through Ken Bromley Art Supplies in the UK which you can find here.  I will have updates shortly on the new courses that are coming! In the meantime, I hope you find joy, peace and comfort as you create your own works of heart this month. I am still locked down in Ontario and sending hugs out to all those around the world that are going through this as well. We will get through it!!! Keep playing with the pen and encourage those around you.