Thursday, September 23, 2021

Emerging Magic

 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. 


We had a great response to Fascinating Flourishes and Luminous Letters for The Ardington School online. In February and March, I hope to help you welcome Spring with 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. 

If you love Spring time and Florals, these courses will brighten what can be dark wintery months here in Canada. I am perpetually looking for Spring no matter what season it is. 
I know there are tons of courses online for you to explore and your time and treasure is precious. Whatever you choose to do, I encourage you to find joy in the journey and take all the time you need for your own particular process. I have said it before and will say it again. This is not a race! There is no finishing line when it comes to acquiring skills. Just allow yourself the time it takes for the magic to emerge. It will happen!!!  I wish you all the best in whatever you are pursuing. Email me at anytime!

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

S is for September

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.

 It was a beautiful first day of September as some of my bird sketches were painted. The image below was painted with my dry brush technique on Daler Langton Prestige Hot Press paper. There is a bit of a tooth to the paper that reacts beautifully to dry brushing. The creation of these study pages helps me as I put the handouts together for each course. The process is so time consuming but I always learn so much along the way.
I hope  you all have a beautiful September. Follow your heart with your creative pursuits and find the joy in each day. Sending hugs all around!