Friday, February 11, 2022

Pink is Always a Good Idea

In the midst of dark days of news and an enduring winter I find that anxiety creeps in a little bit. I find I need to dig a little deeper to find a sense  of peace when I work at my desk.  When I worked in the fabric store, just seeing the bright colours of the quilting fabrics lifted my spirits! The shop is long gone but the joy of colour remains with me. This week I came home with the most gorgeous miniature rose. Seeing the pink colour instantly brought a smile to my face. There is joy in colour and for me the colour that releases joy for me is pink. It came up in conversation as I was teaching The Flowering Flourish class this week. Pink is always a good idea, at least for me. 

I don't know what it is about the colour but it just lifts my spirit and brings a sense of calm no matter what is going on around me. As I continue to prepare for the class Nature Sings class, a pink bunny emerged. I guess it was just a matter of time before it happened!
Even the gilded butterfly has hints of pink in it. I can't escape how much joy I find in this colour.
Surround yourself with the colours that bring you joy and see if that can bring you a little lift of happiness even if you are going through something dark or stressful.

I have had some wonderful emails, letters and phone calls from those of you who share the love of special colours and flowers. Pansies are another favourite and I have been exploring them with my private students and will be painting pansy initials as part of the Alphabet Garden course at Ardington. The classes were sold out but we expanded the capacity a little bit to open up a few more seats and take care of the waiting list. So if you would like to join in either March or May, I think you will enjoy the pansy letters and other explorations we can do with a brightly painted Illuminated Letter.

The Ardington classes are kept quite small to allow for more feedback and I have seen some absolutely remarkable work in the Luminous Letter and The Flowering Flourish. My hope is that students will be able to find peace and joy through the work of their hands. If I can play even a small part in bringing them happiness, I will feel so grateful. No matter what happens in external environments and things that are beyond our control, there are small things we can do to nurture peace and joy. Sending hugs all around and I hope you have a beautiful weekend!


Saturday, February 5, 2022

From Glimmer to Glow

 I wanted to add a quick post to the blog on a bright but cold February afternoon. I taught an intense class yesterday for The Gentle Penman online. We tried an extended single class of 3.5 hours along with an ambitious project called For the Love of Birds. I loved working on the project and trying this teaching approach. It is fun as well as challenging to figure out the best approaches for the online classes and I am learning so much in the process. The project itself was to demonstrate some drawing, inking and painting techniques and I was thrilled to see what students could accomplish.

I could not complete the design in the class time but several people did and I hope they continue to explore the techniques and bring their own vision to the new designs. One of the things that seemed easier to navigate in an online format is having the students in their own homes where they don't compare their work to others. Yes, we miss the energy of the other students in the class, seeing what unique supplies people bring to class and the social interaction that can really add to the experience. But as an introvert in these social settings, my senses could often be overwhelmed and I would find time to take walks outdoors to recalibrate my mind. There can be a pressure on the student to think that they need to be able to absorb content and gain skills at the same rate of the other students. I want to encourage my students and students of any instructor that you are uniquely you!!! You have a vision, voice, instinct and skill set that is yours alone. You hear things your own way, judge things with your own ideas and have a desire to push your skills where you want them to go...or not to go. This journey is for you alone. As we continue to navigate this world that has so much content for us to explore and devour online, I want to encourage you to find the glimmer of joy in each success and even in the  failures along the way. As I was teaching this intense class in this online format, I remembered how different my own experience has been over the years.

I did not have the choices of online classes that are available now. I had images from a book to study, sought out pen pals and mentors, looked for articles to read and if I could find a class that I could attend in person, I would make substantial investments to attend. I failed a lot. But I kept my successful projects and never lost the passion and the peace that the journey was brining to me. Even as I failed at my desk, I was continuing to explore and learn. Always remember, that this is not a race. There is incredible joy to be discovered out of sheer curiosity of a subject. The art work you create as you play and explore would never be created unless you do it. The smallest note that you can write to someone can bring them joy or hope. Whether you design a whole composition or add a rosebud to someone's initial, you have placed your unique signature on the design.  As I continue to work with my students and prepare for new courses I hope you can celebrate the successes and even the failures as your skills begin to shine and glow. Be patient. Honestly, when I see how quickly some people can catch on to these skills I am reminded just how slow I was to learn and catch on. But I have no regrets. I am just grateful to share what helped me learn along the way and then enjoy seeing your unique creations. Happy Saturday dear friends! Enjoy the journey and allow you skills to grow slowly over time. 

Tuesday, February 1, 2022

Welcome February!

 The calendar page turns and I always adjust my thoughts for the new month ahead. Outside my studio window, the squirrels are digging through lots of snow and don't seem to be the least bit bothered by it. I start to become so hopeful for Spring as soon as I get my first glimpse of February. I have an amaryllis blooming on my desk to keep me company and I continue to bring home flowers from the florist.  I seem to need flowers more and more these days but I appreciate each moment of joy they bring and keep them as long as I can. I have just finished teaching The Enchanted Meadow for The Gentle Penman online.

I was completely overwhelmed with the response to the class and watching new skills come to life for my dear students. Although I continue to teach privately and work individually with my precious students, I am grateful for these larger platforms and watching a community of painters, illuminators and calligraphers continue to hone their skills. I feel genuinely honoured to be part of your journey. This coming Friday night I will teach my For the Love of Birds class for The Gentle Penman.

 I have worked so hard on the course material and the class will be 3.5 hours long online. I am really looking forward to exploring the Cerulean Warbler with this group of students. I am so excited about this class!
Looking forward to March, I will be launching Nature Sings through Acorn Arts online. I don't think the site is ready yet online, but it will be updated shortly. I hope to explore the awakening of the garden through a grisaille technique on dark paper that I have been playing with. The image below is a glimpse at the beginning stage of the technique.

We will explore birds, blooms and pollinators in this class.

I will build on these techniques in another flourishing class for Acorn Arts again in the fall.  As I am creating these courses I find new ways to explore the flourish and bring more luminous techniques to the page. I hope the content will help you grow as an artist. Flourishing is all about possibilities as well as tapping into the peaceful flow of thought that it can bring. It really is the most powerful pointed pen skill that I have in my skill set and I love working with it. Looking ahead to April, I will be sharing my Fainting Fancies class with the Gentle Penman. Any Harry Potter fan will recognize the name Fainting Fancies. I designed this class for my local guild when we offered a full day Harry Potter themed calligraphic retreat. Although the class content has evolved, the name continues to be a fun title! A fanciful script capital letter is embellished with faint or subtle techniques at first and gradually becomes more and more complex. The magic of offhand flourishing can be added to your script lettering in very playful ways. You can create simple embellishments for envelopes or small quotes or work on complex monograms. I hope this class will be the beginning of many hours of personal study. 

Part of the subtle effects of these letters is the use of white on toned paper, There are delicate details that can emerge when we choose a mid-tone paper.  We can also add subtle details on light coloured paper. Honestly, I wish I had weeks to explore all of the possibilities but the online classes are a great starting place for exploration. 
I am so happy to share these classes with you and I am genuinely delighted to see what you are producing,. If you would like my 2022 schedule, please email me at Enjoy the first breath of February and the subtle signs of spring emerging. I have to look a bit deeper right now in the midst of all of this snow but I am grateful for the Hope of Spring. Wherever you are  and whatever circumstances you are facing, I hope you find a glimmer of light that brings you hope and joy and that you can celebrate the work that you do with your hands. I will be cheering you on from my studio desk. Keep looking for signs of Spring!