Sunday, June 20, 2021

Subtleties of Technique

 I usually do not post so much in a single month but I am fielding lots of questions through email about my specific techniques. I try to share this as much as possible with my students in the online and private sessions but some techniques do take a long time to develop. Pointed pen techniques are relatively easy to share and students find a lot of encouragement as they watch these skills develop rapidly on their page. Offhand flourishing is a wonderful skill to develop. Artistic skills will soar as well as your confidence and fluidity with the pen.  Colours can be added easily with coloured pencils and the flourishes look so lively on your page.

When you go beyond pen flourishes, into pen drawing you start to add to your skills and your techniques expand. Maybe touches of gold leaf gilding are added or watercolours are used instead of coloured pencils. Maybe you start to incorporate little birds or animals into your designs. The pointed pen is still used but you are also developing drawing skills along the way.  One skill leads to another. 

Keeping in mind that there is never a time line for these skills, you may want add more intricate drawings and painting skills to your work. This is where your personality can really be seen in your work and your own subtleties start to develop in your technique. As an instructor, I can guide you and share the technique that work for me but it is through he implementation of these techniques that our pathways start to separate. What works for me, the touch that I bring to the page, the colours that ignite my heart and mind, and the specific tools and supplies I use will differ from your own. Your vision and your energy will bring your designs to fruition on the page. I am currently working on a very special project. As I start to bring the images to life I reach for familiar tools and colours that I know will work. When I start to paint woodland creatures like owls, I know which colours on my palette will work. You can see the areas of browns in the image and brush knows where to reach those colours almost instinctively,
I prefer to use tube paints that dry on my palette and use a wet brush to create skins of paint on a ceramic plate. This moist/dry brush technique creates the subtleties and slow developing layers of paint that I want as I paint my illustrations. This process is labour and time intensive  but the technique  works for me. I also find that I prefer using a brush that is almost ruined for any other purpose. I reach for that well worn brush because I seem to know its mind as I work. 
These  subtleties of technique are what I encourage you to look out for in your own work. What colours on your palette are the most used? What do you do to bring that unique touch to your work? What colour combinations do you seek out? Are there patterns or styles in your culture or background that you want to bring forward into your own work? Look inward a bit as you work on personal projects. See what you can develop. Remember that instructors can share guidance with you but our true calling is to nudge you on to your own path and cheer you on as you make your discoveries. Trust your instincts. Pursue the things that you love and see what emerges on the paper.  It's ok if you fail, that is part of the path. It is expected. The owl often represents wisdom. I want to assure you that there is unique wisdom to be found as you spend time developing your techniques. You are never wasting time! Sending you all encouragement as you work on whatever it is that brings you delight. Hugs all around!

Monday, June 14, 2021

Presentation for my local Guild

 Hope you are having a wonderful June!! We have had some really warm days and I am enjoying the sights and sounds in the garden. I wanted to take a moment and let you know that I will doing an online presentation called "Petals and Pens" for my local guild on June 21st from 7:00 -9:00PM. You do not have to be a guild member to join the course. Space is limited and there is a registration fee of $25 for non-members which will go directly to the guild. Registration info is available from Carol. You can email her at or you can contact me at heather for registration info. My local guild has been a wonderful organization and I have met many life long friends through it. I am excited to offer this demonstration for them. It will mainly be my Victorian Pen etching technique. 

Sometimes, just seeing one technique is enough to launch you into a new direction!! Hope you continue to have a beautiful June!! Hugs all around!

Tuesday, June 1, 2021

Summer Studies

 Welcome to June dear friends. I hope you are surrounded by bright blue skies and flowering plants. My garden is waking up but it still gets quite cold here some evenings. We are still in lockdown but I am thankful that we are healthy and there is lots of work to do here at home. I just completed the Enchanted Letter course online and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share these opulent letters with you.

The large online classes have been a great way to share an overview of the techniques but there is never time enough to get into all of the details in the handouts. There have been so many remaining questions about the gilding techniques. If you want to dive deeper in the gilding, I will have more time to share the techniques during The Glittering Vine at the Legacies III Virtual conference. I have had lots of requests for private students as well who would like a single session tutorial that dives deeper into gilding. If you are interested in this please email me at and we can go from there. My full teaching schedule is also available by emailing me. There are lots of small guild classes coming as well as a new illumination class on the way! This July, I will be teaching The Artful Flourish through The Gentle Penman online.  This is my foundational class in true offhand flourishing. Other than our pencil warm up, we will not use the pencil at all. The offhand flourish is the direct result of thinking on paper. The flourishes evolve and grow as your hand refines skills. This is the easiest of all pointed pen skills to learn as well as being peaceful and meditative. 
The world of flourishing opens up so many skills to the calligrapher. I seldom let a day go by without putting a little flourish on the paper.  The wisdom behind Study, Practice, Reflect comes through in this course. 
I will  continue to catch up on commission work and pen orders this summer so I will be in the studio a lot. I look forward to hearing from you and I am only ever an email away if you have a question or want to show me more of your gorgeous garden florals. Whatever you are choosing to do over the summer, I hope you find joy and peace in the pursuit.

 Take time for yourself. Observe the delights in nature as they come to you. Pick up the pen and play! Sending hugs all around. Thank you for your friendship, encouragement and support. May you Flourish!