Monday, November 29, 2021

The Peace of Pencil

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 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.
As November comes to a close in yet  another turbulent year, I hope you find peace, joy and creativity in your own home at your desk. We have no control of the things around us, but knowing how to utilize a pathway to peace can be so helpful! I am only ever an email away and I love to hear from you. Happy pencil play dear friends!

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

Noticing November

 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. 

I have been busy teaching for guilds online as well as preparing for upcoming classes. It seems that I have been doing tons of pencil work lately and I love it more and more.

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.

I find the pencil work as meditative as offhand flourishing work. I enjoy the process of watching the work evolve slowly and the freedom to correct things as often as needed. I can hardly believe that November is here and I still have so much to complete this year. No matter how rushed things get in the Festive season, I recognize how important it is to work through my tasks slowly and mindfully. I hope you notice the beauty of autumn and enjoy the sights and sounds of the season. Wherever you are in your creative journey, I hope you are appreciating the process. Thank you so much for the kind emails and words of encouragement in my inbox. I appreciate your comments on my IG posts @heathervictoria1. And I love seeing the work you have been doing after classes!! Keep going and keep playing!!