Sunday, November 20, 2022

Flourish and Grow!


On a very cold Sunday Morning in November, I wanted to share a quick post of how happy you have made as students and as readers of the blog. I appreciate all of you who have let me know they have not been receiving the notifications of the blog posts. It has been because of a setting change on this platform but I am happy to add your name to the list again if you contact me. Thank you for reading and being interested. This week my heart has been so joyful. I have just completed teaching The White Christmas Flourishing class at the Ardington School Online. Honestly, I don't know when I have seen such joyful flourishes emerge from a group of students. I think the Festive theme launches so many whimsical thoughts and people love to add a bit of sparkle to their work.

The special focus of working with white ink on dark paper also helps the students to see things with fresh eyes. I watched flourishes emerge that I have never seen students create before. We had angels and gnomes emerge on the paper! It was so exciting and incredibly satisfying to see the unique vision of the student come forward throughout the class.

 I have students who have been signing on for courses for many months now and to see their work skyrocket just brings me so much joy. Education builds as you continue to study. One student took the time to tell me that online classes really do work. I would never be able to meet with these students in all of these different countries in person. It is such a blessing to know that the classes are making a difference. As 2023 approaches, I want you to flourish and grow as you work with your hands. Find the sense of peace and joy that creative pursuits can bring. I let go of pursuing perfection years ago. I am pursuing improvement and peace in the process. I will be continuing to teach online. The Gentle Penman will have my Belles Nouvelles class in January. I have written about this before but this is a wonderful starting place if you want to learn the pen etching technique with the influence of Toile du Jouy and Art Nouveau colour influences. From antique soap labels and perfume labels to lettering on signs and even colours of pastries, there is so much to explore in this class. 

 The Ardington School will have several courses as well and we will be launching a monthly Flourishing Club as well. The Flourishing Club will be a place to play and place to grow. I will keep the flourishes to seasonal themes and we can explore techniques together. I have some spring ideas for our first set of club meetings!  Each meeting will be one hour and we will be able to chat together as we work on flourishes. The focus will be creating an atmosphere where we can grow and explore together.

You can sign up for Ardington's newsletter on their site or contact Gemma at Ardington to be included in the notification when the Flourishing Club launches. The Ardington offers so many wonderful courses with wonderful instructors. Enjoy looking through their course catalogue.  I will also be teaching For the Love of Birds at Ardington in early January. . This is a drawing and painting class where were can work together on gaining confident skills.  Here in Canada, January can be a bleak and wintery month and I hope to awaken Spring Joy in this class. We will draw birds and branches tougher and form a sweet branching heart for your Cerulean Warblers.

Your finished design can serve as a beautiful Spring card. We will explore pencil drawings of various birds and I hope this will be a confidence builder for you.

 And if you want to design gilded borders, I will be running my Pencil Lines for Glittering Vines course again. Although these look complex, I break this down into simple steps and you will have such fun designing your beautiful border. We befriend the pencil before we gild and paint. You will learn how to create a clean draft before you put paint and gold to paper. 

 Enrolment is kept quite low at Ardington. The classes are small and we interact with each other on a discussion board. I feel as if I am part of your journey and not just teaching and then closing the door. Although these classes are so much work to prepare, I am so grateful as I watch your skills blossom. Please reach out to me if you have any questions about these courses. I am so excited about what is in store and I will be cheering you on as you flourish and bloom. I know there is anxiety, fear and uncertainty in our lives. Lots of real struggles and pain. As artists and calligraphers, I think it is so important that we reach out to others, send a note of encouragement and bless others with the work of our hands. A little act of kindness goes a long way. Thank you dear students, readers and friends for the blessing you are to me. Keep flourishing!

Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Quiet Appreciation

 Another calendar paged has turned and we are inching forward toward the end of the year. I can hardly believe how quickly things unfold. It is easy to get overwhelmed and not stop to appreciate some of the simple things that surround you. Taking time to pause, breathe, brew a cup of tea or coffee and just relax no matter what tasks are piling up on the desk. 

I took a beautiful walk around the garden on this unusually warm day. Seasons come and go. The garden will pause until next Spring and I will look forward to all that it has to offer. I have an abundance of work to do before the end of the year. A busy weekend ahead with Woodland Peace for The Gentle Penman on Friday night and then a Saturday class of Belles Nouvelles Lettres for The Michigan Association of Calligraphy. I will do a larger offering of Belles Nouvelles in January for The Gentle Penman. My love of Toile de Jouy fabric will shine through this class. Like everything else, I have loved the research end of composing the course.  There were some inspirations from studying the work of Alphonse Mucha that have influenced this course as well. 

Always a joy to paint miniatures and to design letters.There is always something new for me to learn and I am thrilled to share techniques, ideas and inspiration. I will likely be quiet for November and December as I finalize course material for Flights of Fancy. Trying to put the notes together and figure out the course load for the students is a lot of work. But I am so excited about the concept. My ideas keep evolving and my hope for the class is for students to find their own unique styles and to ignite their passion for calligraphic art. 
I will be working hard here in the studio and will respond to emails as soon as I can. Whatever you are doing in your part of the world, I hope you take time to pause and nurture yourselves.  I have heard from many of you who are going through stress and struggles and I am sending hugs across the miles and hope things improve quickly. I hope you can pick up the pen to flourish, or the pencil to draw or the brush to paint. I am cheering you on from my desk here in Canada. I appreciate you all so much.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Practicing Peace

 It seems like just a blink and we are at the end of October.

My garden still has blooming marigolds and pansies that are trying to hang on, and there have been some vibrants red colours in my maple tree.

I can see the changes in the light and how it reflects on the trees and I know that the cold season is coming. That means I have to look a little harder to find  the hidden gems in each day. But they will be there. Earlier this month, I released some new class information. The Flights of Fancy Class is a 5 month long study program through the Gentle Penman.  The class is more in the form of a mentoring journey than just a teaching situation. I want your skills to soar.

 The students will actively participate and find their own vision and path. When the class opened for registration, it sold out in record time. We were overwhelmed with requests to run a second time slot. So a very limited seating for a second group of students is being offered and will open for registration on October 30th at 12:00 AM EDT which is 12:00 PM HKT. Even though we are opening this small group of seats for this course, I will not be able to accommodate all of the requests for students. I feel humbled and overwhelmed at the response and I am so grateful that you want me to accompany you on this journey.

I have a lot to do to prepare for the course and I have a robust teaching schedule for 2023. No matter how busy I get teaching, I have found some very peaceful practices to share with you. I love to write, draw, gild and paint. I love designing compositions and finding a way to share them with my students. An added blessing has been the peaceful mindset that comes with the drawing and painting. I remember early in my journey, that my grip on the brush would be tight and I would be stressed over the final outcome of the painting. Over the years, I have learned that it is the process and the practice that is most important. The final outcome is always negotiable. Now when I paint, I take a deep breath and reflect on my subject. I try to find what lesson each particular project will be teaching me.  Will I have to correct a mistake? Will I be patient and peaceful as I work through the details of the design? Can this piece I am working on bring joy to someone else? How can I share this with my students in a way that is easy to communicate and understand? The practice of drawing, gilding and painting has become a peaceful one for me. Just like writing and flourishing, it brings me so much joy and I have heard from so many others who find that same sense of joy and wonder. Although my schedule can not possible accommodate all of the student requests, there are two upcoming courses that are still available for you if you are interested. Next weekend, I will be teaching Woodland Peace which is a study in miniature painting.

I provide guides for the painting but also share how to compose your own painting. The Gentle Penman will donate half of the proceeds of the class to the World Wildlife Fund. Registration is open.  And if you want to look ahead to the hope of an early Spring, I will be teaching For the Love of Birds for Ardington School. Enrolment is kept small with Ardington so I can work closely with the students. If you wanted to find a sweet way to draw and paint birds in a foliate setting, this is a great class to start with.

You don't need special skills or drawing experience for either of these classes. I believe in the process of finding peace through working with your hands. Even if you don't think you can draw, there are entry level strategies that we can learn to make things easier.

The work that we create can be such a blessing to others. Whether you create a design for a card or an original to be framed, you will surprise yourself with what you can do. As we come on deck for the Festive Season, I hope you find joy and peace with the work of your hands. Please continue to let me know if you want to be added to the blog subscription. I also have a draft of my 2023 teaching schedule ready to share. I hope this last weekend of October is a beautiful one for you. Hugs all around. 

Sunday, October 2, 2022

October Is Here....and my heart is full!

 Welcome to a breezy October morning. There I a bit of a chill in the air and joy in my heart.

 I have so much to share this month!Minutes ago, Symbiosis II wrapped up the exhibit for this fall. I cannot begin to share all that I have processed with this journey. I feel like I have gained far more than I have given and I am energized beyond what I thought was possible. I think what was most energizing was seeing the passion and enthusiasm of a young generation who are seeing this world of calligraphy and ornament through fresh eyes. It is easy to take for granted a burgeoning bookshelf and cupboard full of art supplies. Maybe we forget what it was like to purchase our first tube of paint and wonder if it will be worth the money. Or maybe we don't remember that we used to buy our sheets of paper one at a time and just how precious it was to have that full sheet to explore.  What has imprinted so profoundly for me is how attentive this young generation is to these new experiences. Nothing is taken for granted and it has been an incredibly enlightening and rewarding experience. I think I will be unpacking the rewards for quite some time. There is something about sharing a process and journey with others that relieves a sense of isolation we can feel in our studios of solitude and puts some polish in our own work.

I can finally share some exciting news about upcoming classes. I know there are so many to explore and your plate may be full. Mine is full as an instructor as well. As an artist who is trying to keep up with all of the classes, I feel like I have made some new discoveries that I am excited to share. Festive Flourish open for registration with The Gentle Penman. This is a wonderful class even if flourishing is new to you. I am overflowing with new ideas for this class including more thoughts for a flourished reindeer.

We will use a template for the shape so there is no need to worry if you think you cannot draw. There is a vintage feel to it with the elongated, narrow neckline of this particular deer. What a joy to just let flourishes evolve on the paper. I used Michaels Recollection Cardstock for the design which feels very thin these days but it works well with the Bleedproof White. 

Woodland Peace is also open for registration on The Gentle Penman website.

The process of painting has become more and more enticing to me. This approach uses a lot of control of the watercolour medium. I am keeping the floral and foliate colours minimal as this class will be presented in one session. When the work is completed, you could have a finished design to print for you holiday card. As I look back on the piece, I can see the influence of my William Morris studies. Not only his finished designs, but his ability to pursue the things he wanted to explore have impacted me so much. He knew what to exclude and what to pursue. I have had to keep that thought in mind as I plan things for 2023.

If you want a festive exploration of the Enchanted Meadow, I will be sharing some insights in the December class for Ardington School.  Each time I teach a class I try to find new things to explore. As I was preparing for this class an Enchanted Meadow Mouse took shape. There are always new avenues to explore. This is such an interesting pursuit and I don't believe I will ever be bored. Gold leaf as well as 23K handmade shell gold was added to this piece. The little mouse was such a happy departure from my usual bunnies but I am sure a bunny is not far behind. 

If you are looking ahead on Ardington's schedule, they have also posted For the Love of Birds which continues with drawing and painting. Right now the notes include the Cerulean Warbler as our study subject but I am working hard on a male and female cardinal as well. Once again, a delicate painting technique is the focus of this class. 

Finally, I have just announced the news of the 2023 Flights of Fancy program with The Gentle Penman.

The class info will be on their site on October 3rd. Registration for the course which begins in January will not open until October 23rd. This will be a very small class. The course content and the component of feedback and troubleshooting will need to  be kept to a small class. We also want you to really consider and see if you have room in your life to take the program. I will be sharing research and study methods throughout the class and I expect that each student will do different work.  I will continue to share details of this program through the blog and IG posts but what is most important for me in this course is for you to find your own path and your own voice. This will be the most intensive course I have ever taught. It will take about 5 months over 12 sessions online. There will be feedback for the work submitted and there will be lots of work involved not only for you as a student but for me as instructor. I am feeling a bit crazy for embarking on this but also so excited. The driving force behind the class is what I see from my private students who have been with me for an extended period of time. They are doing work that I would never have dreamed or imagine is possible. And they are pushing me into new explorations as well. I am so very grateful to my students. 

If you are interested in the program, you can read about the details on The Gentle Penman on October 3rd.  You can also contact me with questions.  I want to engage your whimsical side as we look at these skills together. We can have a playful yet studious approach. I believe that this is a tender hearted world in need of joy and peace. What we do with our hands can reach others and enrich our lives so much. I will have lots more to share.  Expect some advanced flourishing techniques, explorations in gilding, watercolour and drawing. We will design fanciful inhabited initials and finally create an illuminated page together.

I do recommend a textbook to study for the entire course. The book is The Beauty of Letters by John P. Wilson. If you have the book, you will know that it is not instructive. But there are ways to engage with the book that can inform your work.  I realize that many of you have not been receiving the post notifications of the blog. If you contact me, I will add you again to the notification list so you don't miss out on posts. I know there was a lot in this post. Beyond classes, there is so much in my heart and mind to share with you. Whatever you are doing on this October afternoon, I hope you find joy in the journey!

Friday, September 23, 2022

Symbiosis II

 Sitting at my desk on a day that really feels like autumn. Tea at the swing still happened but with a jacket and a chill in the air. I woke up this morning and prepared for the launch of the Symbiosis II Mentoring Journey exhibit. Please take some time to read about the initiative and see the incredible works of art that have been produced. Each person involved has a story. They are unique people with their own vision and such precious gifts to share. I feel blessed to have been able to mentor for these past months. I have definitely learned lessons along the way and the lessons can be passed on in the future. I do a lot of teaching and it is such a blessing when the teaching rejuvenates and energizes. There are so many ideas rambling around in my head waiting to come out on paper. The journey goes on. It was wonderful to work toward an exhibit with a set date in mind and although that date has come, I am reminded that there are so many next steps to take. I think if I ever feel as if I have arrived at my destination, I will pack up my pens and put my paints away. There is always something to explore, learn, research and try. I don't think I will time to ever be bored as I continue along this path. The Symbiosis II platform has lots of events that you can watch free of charge. I will be doing a pointed pen etching demonstration next week. The info is all on the website. You will also be able to meet the mentors and mentees and hear about their own personal journeys. I find the whole process to be fascinating and inspiring and hope you will enjoy the events as well.

If you are already thinking of Holiday Projects, you can join the presentation of Lettering for Holiday Projects free of charge. I will be presenting Victoria's Valentine in a style that is true to my heart and a delight to share. The details are all on the website. I am always so grateful for your support in my classes. The free presentations are my way of saying thank you and hoping you will find joy as you put pen or brush to paper. I feel your companionship on this journey. I love each note and email that comes to me. I love to see your work. I believe that the peace and joy that can be found in this type of work can make in difference in our own lives and the lives of others. Keep playing and keep taking steps on your own personal journey. Hugs all around. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Seasonal Rhythms

September is spinning by so quickly and I know this is my third post this month! Autumn is pensive but productive for me. I am working on my 2023 teaching schedule at the moment which is very full and will offer some long term study opportunities to my private students as well as a small online class. I will keep you posted on the details. But registration is now open for my fall classes. A Time to Refine will be this weekend through Acorn Arts.  This is a very different presentation for me as I work more on techniques and polishing skills and share some insights that have come from different inspirational sources. The preparation of this course made me realize how deeply I am affected by each season and the different rhythms they present. The sounds and smells of autumn are so different than the spring and summer. Walks take me through falling leaves and I hear the crunch of the leaves as I pass by. The nuthatches and their special song is the most prominent in the garden. I haven't heard the evening song of the robin for weeks now. The first bird in the morning is usually a blue jay and the last bird at night even as it gets dark is a cardinal. There are no more pink blooms in may garden but the leaves are changing colours and my orange and yellow marigolds are still blooming. Inspiration informs our work! I feel like I am being flooded with inspiration as I continue to do research and study for upcoming courses. One of the explorations of the offhand flourish has been a metallic grisaille technique and adding some subtle detail to the metallic with watercolour and coloured pencil. It takes much longer to build up the grisaille with metallic but the effects are so interesting. We will explore this in Time to Refine. 
Something as small as an acorn can bring so much delight with a bit of gold leaf and the pointed pen. Although I am eager to share this class, it is an advanced class. If you are looking a good foundational class in offhand flourishing that provides the opportunity for exploring seasonal rhythms with a sense of the fanciful, I will be teaching The Festive Flourish for the Gentle Penman next month. This flourishing class will take you through the basic strokes of offhand flourishing while leading you into more complex flourishes. When I started out in my flourishing journey, one of my greatest joys was creating a different Christmas flourish for everyone on my card list! I kept this up for years until my card list got too big but the practice was wonderful. We will even explore a larger flourish that can be reproduced as a Christmas card. The magic and joy of offhand flourishing can take you down the most wonderful path. 
In December, if you want to journey with me into the Enchanted Meadow at The Ardington School, I be delighted to share this dry brush watercolour illustration technique for you. There is a bit of drawing, gilding and painting involved in these miniature paintings as well as lot of imagination and opportunity to indulge your whimsical side. I will add a bit of a seasonal twist to this class but these meadow creatures can be part of any season. Even if you think the drawing part might be beyond your current skill set, I will be sharing design strategies with you that are easier than you can imagine. 

 My hope with this December class is that you will be able to go forward into the winter months with painting projects that bring a sense of joy and delight to a season that can sometimes feel dark.

I know there are a lot of classes coming up and there are so many wonderful classes for you to explore online. I appreciate your support so much and more than anything, I love to see the sense of joy and peace that these skills can bring to your life. The Enchanted Meadow has brought out so many whimsical stories and ideas from students. I see their skills skyrocket and surpass anything that I could dream or imagine. Back to your weekend dear friends! Thank you so much for reading, for sending emails and sharing your friendship with me.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Savouring the Season

 The approach of autumn always makes me pensive. My senses are so aware of the changes in the air, the different sounds of the birds in the backyard and the fading blooms in the garden. This past summer I have  been aware of how I spend my time. If you really dive into the meaning of "spending time", you will realize there is a luxury in finding some available moments in each day. I have always been drawn to the wonder and beauty of nature, but with each passing season, I feel as if I can appreciate that beauty a little more deeply. I had a lot of intense time expenditures here in my studio these past few months. I have  been working with three mentees through The Art of Letters. Throughout the process I have been able to get to know these wonderful calligraphers as well as fellow mentors Gemma Black and Yukimi Annand.  We have worked together for about 6 months now and it has been wonderful to see their ideas come to life and watch them encourage each other. When I stared out in calligraphy, I was fortunate to have two mentors invest in me for several years. To this day, I am not sure why or how this happened but their teaching still comes into my heart as I work and and it comes through my voice when I teach others. Both Michael Sull and Brian Walker have played a huge role in my calligraphic journey. I feel blessed to be able to "pay it forward" and invest in others. We will be having an online interactive exhibit, discussions, and demonstrations September 24th to October 3rd. More information will be coming through The Art of Letters and I will post on my IG account as well. Watch for information about the exhibit called Symbisos II. One of my indulgent time expenditures throughout the end of Spring, Summer and now September, I has been taking quiet breaks on my garden swing. I will brew a cup of tea, grab a book and some peanuts to feed to the squirrels. There are three squirrels who now recognize me and will come close for their peanut. It has been such a delightful experience. When I worked on this letter, I wanted to capture the memories of Spring, Summer, September, Squirrels as well as Symbiosis. Symbiosis can be defined as a mutually beneficially relationship between different people or groups. The tiny delight of watching a squirrel reach for a peanut has blessed me and they sure seem to love it as well. 

I drew the design directly on my paper. The paper used for this piece is Fabriano Enhanced Artistico Paper. This paper is becoming my new favourite. The entire design is painted with my Winsor Newton Series 7 Miniature Size 1 brush. The vision of the design was a red letter, yet somehow I chose green. I was going to branch acorns and oak leave around the letter but somehow, flowers and acanthus leaves emerged instead. That is not overly surprising if you are familiar with my work! But the colour palette is a surprise. I guess the Seasonal Letter called for September colours.  The squirrel was built up with layers of dry brush watercolour and then a little white gouache was added to the tips of the ears.

 The initial is 6cm x 6.5 cm and was a delight to create from start to finish. 

Sometimes, no matter what the deadlines are or how quickly the days seem to be zooming by, it is important to take the luxury of slow time to experience the sights and sounds around you. Remember that each project that is in your heart and mind to do, deserves your best attention. I have many demands that pull at me constantly but I know I need to keep that stress and anxiety away while I work. Seasons come and go, and they each have a delight of their own. If you are yearning to take a break with a book, I hope you indulge! If have a whimsical project in your mind that you want to spend time with, I hope you dive in wholeheartedly. 
Find magic and delight in your work and as you watch the season unfold. Hugs all around. Thank you for your constant support and for taking the time to read the blog. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

A Season of Growth

 The calendar page has turned once again and September greeted me with sunshine and warmth. I have spent summer mornings in my garden, watching the birds and squirrels as they come to the feeders and taking some slow pauses to read.

Despite the little pause of my constant studio routine, I have felt a time of refreshing and growth. I patiently protected my Morning Glories this year so they would have a chance to bloom. They spent months behind a net so that the bunnies would give them a chance. Now they greet me with their vibrant colours. They have transitional colours  in them and delicate details that I am so grateful to see.

The garden will start to fade as the nights become cooler but I can honestly say that I took the time to appreciate the joys it had to offer this summer.

The research and reading I have been doing has launched me into so many areas of discovery. I watch as colours from Burne Jones' paintings start to influence my own colour choices. The stylized flowers of William Morris are becoming more and more ingrained in my thinking and you will see more of them in my work as time progresses. Although I usually dread the fall and winter season, I feel grateful for the summer growth. Each season has a beauty of its own and lessons we can glean.

I am constantly leaning into nature more deeply and appreciating the wonders of the seasons. I have lots of classes coming up as we go through the fall season. I will be teaching A Time to Refine through Acorn Arts later this month. This course will intentionally lead you along a path of growth and refinement in your flourishing skills. There is always so much more to learn and to know as we work with offhand flourishing and I can never teach it all in just one course. I hope that if you have studied with me in the past, you will find new truths and insights as I share my own avenues of growth with you. I want you to be able to use the flourish for all that it is worth and watch how it can bring skills that you never thought possible.  The process of refining skills, observing and really appreciating our journey has been on my mind for the past few months. We need a healthy respect for time. The clock and the seasons certainly don't slow down at all, but I am finding myself more mindful of the time needed to do my best work.

It may seem like a luxury not to rush, but in the end, I have found that it has been saving me time as I avoid corrections or even restarting a project. I hope that September brings you a joyful greeting and that you will take the time to observe its offerings. Do the work that is in your heart to do! There is such wonder on this journey. Appreciate the beauty that each day brings to you. Sending hugs to you all.Thank you for your constant support and your emails. I look forward to hearing from you.