While I was greeting the month of August with a blog post my internet connection suddenly died. We started August 1st with the garbage truck hitting the cables attached to our house that connect our internet and phone. Here I am August 4th still without a connection. So I write hastily from a spotty connection but wanted to check in. The interruption and the close look at our utter dependency on the internet has been strange and frustrating. There is still tons of work to do in the studio but my usual method of research has changed out of desperation. I can't just conveniently look everything up online, visit the Victoria and Albert museum website or any of my illuminated manuscript sites online. But my bookshelf is getting a huge workout. I have actually read through the pages of my favourite books as I continue to work on the Flowers of William Morris class. The Ardington School will be running an encore presentation of the class and enrolment is now open although space will be limited. If you are interested in joining the class, you can register here. I am continuing to study Pre-Raphaelite work as I prepare for this class. Some of the colour schemes are so intriguing and I can feel my palette changing as I work on the designs. I don't think William Morris would have approved of Schmicke Brilliant Purple, but pink will always be part of my work.
With or without internet, my morning routine is very special. I am spending time each day in the garden and enjoying all of the blooms and the beauty that appears. Sitting in my garden swing beside the Japanese anemones, I can hear the bees buzzing. It is definitely music and so calming. I have baby bluejays and a family of orioles that visit daily and I find myself getting overwhelmed with just how beautiful nature can be. Beauty truly is everywhere, from the smallest observations of a petal or a leaf, or to the bright feathers of a blue jay. I played a bit with a whimsical feather and gilding design just to capture the magic.
I am amazed at what I see the students creating and I am thrilled that I can be part of their journey. I talked about Core Skills for calligraphers. Lettering is always in the forefront of our work but there is so much more we can add to the page. Simple drawing skills, brush skills and adding a touch of gold leaf can elevate our work so much. Learning how to combine the letters and the decorative work is a lifelong journey and so rewarding. One of the books on my bookshelf is Walter Crane by Jenny Uglow.
One of the Walter Crane quotes that captivated me read" technical skill could give character, but beauty is not so easy to command." He goes on to say that beauty can be dependent on " a hair's breadth difference in the poise of a mass here, or a sweep of a curve there." When I dive deeply into that thought I realize how much he is saying. Even as I try to keep up with emails and letters with students asking what they can do next to improve, try to really let this sink in. Firm up the technical skills so you really have a command of the paper, inks, nibs, paints and your materials. But remember that honing those technical skills will be a lifelong journey of chasing beauty. It's never a race and there is no finish line.