Thursday, August 18, 2022

A Time To Refine

 Here we are in the middle of August. I am still overjoyed to see my morning glories every day and enjoy the delights of the summer. Leaves are already turning colour in some spots here in Ontario, and my thoughts are turning a bit to the Fall Season. My fall Flourishing class for Acorn Arts is open for Registration. It is a class designed for those of you who have some offhand flourishing experience but want to refine skills and find ways to bring more magic to the flourish. There is a level you can achieve with offhand flourishing where the strokes are exceptionally fluid and the floral are filled with life and vitality. We can work on eliminating some hesitation with the thought process and bring a confidence to your flourish that you never thought possible.

 These days I am gleaning so much from the colours and inspiration of the Pre-Raphaelites and that will surely find its way into some of the colours I share in the upcoming autumn season. My ultimate goal is that you find joy with the flourish and find your way to picking up the pointed pen every day! If colour, sparkle and play seem like something you would like to incorporate into your flourish, I can't wait to share this with you. 

This course will be hosted through Acorn Arts and registration is now open. Ultimately, I hope to share skills with you that will bring your flourishes to a whole new level of refinement and expertise.

My philosophy for flourishing and growing as an artist has been through the natural world and I hope you will become more confident with floral and foliate flourishing and designs. I also want you to be mindful that the simple element of mindful time on task is part of the process of refining skills. Offhand flourishing is an acquired skill like any other. It is easier than you think with a broader range of possibilities than you can imagine. Thank you so much for all of your kind emails and sharing your beautiful work with me. It makes me so happy to see how the courses are helping you grow as an artist and find peace in the process.  Happy Mid August dear friends. 

Wednesday, August 10, 2022

P is for Patient Process

Just a quick post today as I will be taking a bit of a break for August. I hope to finally visit with my daughter and son-in-law. After Covid keeping us apart for 3 years, we are looking forward to seeing them. I still have some commitments with private students this month as well as preparing for an advanced flourishing class in September. I will post details for registration when they are available. The Gentle Penman have opened registration for The Festive Flourish on their site and our encore William Morris Flowers presentation is open for registration on the Ardington site.  I am really looking forward to these upcoming classes. This Spring and Summer, I have really enjoyed the thoughts and ideas of my private students. The greatest blessing is that we can explore any subject together. I don't have to commit to a specific course of study and I can take a deeper and slower dive into subjects that they are interested in. Some of my private students have requested Peacock studies in various formats. It has been funny how this is merging with my Pre-Raphaelite and William Morris studies. As I read and research my vision starts to get transformed. The work for this design transformed even as I began to sketch the lombardic P. My initial vision for this design was to create an Azure Blue P with simple florals inside the letter.

The Peacock was to rest on the lower exit curve of the initial. Many of my previous peacock explorations have been done in pinks, purples or blues. The inclusion of gold on the wing of this study was not expected when I drew my design. The colour and shape of the stylized poppy flowers are different that want I had envisioned for this design. Sometimes I am taken by surprise at what emerges on the paper and how far it diverges from my initial vision. The photo will not make this clear, but the tail feathers were first painted in quinacridone gold and then layered with Pthalo Blue, Viridian, Carbazole Violet, Smalt Blue and then Shell Gold. I used a Winsor Newton Series 7 miniature Size One brush for the entire design. The colours were unexpected.

 The process for this piece was so slow. I rarely put work aside once it has begun but this one was put aside several times so I could think about it before proceeding. I really had to be patient with this particular piece and let go of ideas that I had in the beginning. I finished the piece this evening and the final part of my process is to completely wash down my studio desk and put away all of the materials for this project. There is already a new idea in my mind and part of my process is to wash away the old project before I begin a new one. I have been doing this for years and it seems to work for me. You can see a bit of the mess of the desk in front of me and my mixing palette for the design. You can also see my initial rough sketch. I start simply and then refine the drawing on my watercolour paper before I start to paint the design. The little palette of gold is hand made Shell Gold. The making of the shell gold used in the design was also a long and patient process but such a delight to use.  

As artists we need to keep a rather loose grip on our projects. Allow them to wander away somewhat from your initial vision and see what emerges on the page. I hope you are enjoying a beautiful August wherever you are in the world. Thank you for all of the encouraging emails and photos of your work. I have loved seeing your work and hearing about your process. Stay patient and curious as you work. I will be cheering you on. 

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Unexpected Delays

 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 just finished teaching Captivating Curves for The Gentle Penman online.

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. 

I hope that no matter what you have encountered so far in August, you will be able to find joy in the journey. Work with your hands, share what you love and love what you do. I may be slower to respond to email until this internet problem is corrected but I will catch up when I can. Happy August!