Sunday, April 1, 2018

Love is Patient

The calender has been turned to its April page and assures me that Spring has arrived. But the days are still cold, the windshield is frosted in the morning and my walking treks still require my winter coat. And yet I wait and believe that Spring will come. It always has! Thankfully, my studio is warm and cozy and my desk invites me to work everyday. I have been pensive these days as I am launched back into travel. I have several new private students who are full of eagerness and questions. I have even been able to connect online with a few people who want to study The Enchanted Meadow designs. The slow methodical dry brush method of painting is a joy to share with others. I look foward to sharing this workshop with a new group of students in Atlanta! I am working on a very special Enchanted Meadow piece for my Dad's 80th birthday this month. SHHH!!!!!!! Don't tell him!


Despite lots of new projects, and continually changing hats to prepare for the next class, I find myself quite pensive for the past and some of my old working methods. I came to the calligraphy scene in 2003. There were very few videos online. I viewed Dr. Joseph Vitolo's script videos over and over again while I was learning. I made my way to my first IAMPETH convention in 2003 where I forged some of the strongest friendships of my life. Practice was daily and solitary. I still have some journals where I would practice writing quotes and verses in Spencerian Script. Progress was slow but never a chore for me to practice.  Things have changed in the calligraphic world. There is calligraphic overload online of every sort of style, and no shortage of ideas and opinions. You can fill your eyes with so many images of accomplished calligraphic work, look in on people's working methods and be constantly nudged to buy more and more products for our work. There are some days that I love this and other days that I am very unsure of what I see.  The calligraphic arts, like all arts, require a patient build up of skill. The art requires carefully honed senses and intuitive instincts about subtle nuances in letterforms. I learned the hard way and still learn on a daily basis. I make mistakes, fill up the recycle bin with practice papers and artwork that is not quite right, and try again. Patiently and lovingly I report for work at the studio desk and attempt to accomplish the day's tasks. I am grateful for the time spent with my calligraphic mentors who encouraged me along my path. I am thankful that this inkstained journey is such a big part of my life. My email inbox is at a point where it now takes me a few days to answer all the emails I receive. This blog post is for the impatient ones who want to quickly conquer this artform. I encourage you to continue to be patient. Show up at the desk ready to work and understand that there really are no shortcuts. This is hard work and acquiring skills comes at a different pace for different people. As hard as this may be to do, try not to compare your work to the work of others. Take a time out from instagram video feeds and look inward for a little while as you work on your next goal.Did I mention be patient yet??? Don't rush this! Savour the moments you have on this journey as you explore each twist and turn. I will jump down off my soapbox now with this little flourish.  I picked up some Fabriano Rosapina paper during my recent trip to the art store.
The paper is quite textured and it is extraordinarily soft. It requires a light touch with the pen and patience as you try to coax the best possible results from the paper. It forces patience  but was a treat to watch as the flourish evolved on the paper. From my heart to yours on this first day of April 2018, I encourage you to be patient with yourself on this journey.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Strathmore Toned Tan Paper

Every time I use Strathmore papers, I love them more and more. I have really enjoyed their 400 series drawing paper because is it a delicate cream colour, can take light watercolour washes and gilding really well and holds a beautiful ink line. It is a wonderful paper. I have also been doing some experimenting on Kraft paper, Strathmore Toned Tan and Strathmore Toned Grey papers. There are some really interesting effects you can get on these papers. None of them can take a very heavy ink stroke. Although the ink doesn't feather at the edges, it doesn't hold a tight line the way we would like. But in combination with some delicate Faber Castell Polychromos and a touch of bleedproof white, it provides an interesting background to both flourishing and ornamental design work. I will keep experimenting and see what happens next. March is here and time seems to pick up speed. I am booked with travel all the way into 2020!!! I always seem just a little bit behind the next looming deadline but I will try to stay positive. Watch the season of Spring emerge and look foward to the changes it brings.



Thursday, February 8, 2018

February Care

Here in Ontario, Canada, we have had week after week of icy weather, lots of grey skies and lots of snowfall. Bright blue sky days are scattered here and there but the continual grey of winter can play with the soul of an artist. I take measures to keep smiling! One thing I do is surround myself with colour. I take trips to the butterfly conservatory to see the magic of colour in the air! It is restorative to hear the waterfall flowing, see flowers blooming, watch birds in flight and so many butterflies. An extra few trips there in the winter are very helpful.



Inside the studio, I am keeping lots of flowering plants in sight. I am working through a graphite module in botanical illustration so I need to have lots of subjects to draw. The added benefit of having blooms on my desk everyday has been so restorative. When I worked as a florist, I encouraged people to bring home flowers every week especially in the winter. When I got out of the business, I started to neglect my own advice. But these bright blooms have been such a welcome sight. I have had Paperwhites, Amaryllis, Muscari, Freesia and Narcissus greeting me on the desk these past few weeks. Even studying the root systems of the plants keeps me connected to the earth and the promise that spring is coming.
Finally, when I do find some extra time to send out a letter or mail out a packet to a student, I am choosing happy colours to use. As an artist, I need to see colour. When it fails to appear outdoors, do your best to bring it indoors.  Keep thinking happy thoughts as we wait for spring to appear!

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Magic of Inspiration

This April, I will be teaching at the Ink Links Sampler in Guelph, Ontario.
As soon as I heard the theme of Harry Potter I was overwhelmed with inspiration. I will be teaching "Fainting Fancies"

....which will be fanciful, embellished Roundhand Capitals done entirely in Pen and Ink. And, I will be teaching "Flourish and Blotts"
, a course in offhand flourishing. It will be a whirlwind day. I am currently working on the notes for both classes. Harry Potter, always makes me think of owls, so my artwork so far has been rich with owl imagery. I have really enjoyed the slow process of just stippling, or hatching with ink on paper. Sometimes it just takes a word, to spark some inspiration. Often after Christmas, I go through the doldrums of trying to get fully back into work mode. I am thankful that this year, it passed quickly as I have so much to prepare for in the coming days. I am thankful for work to keep me occupied and students who are eager to learn.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Welcome 2018

The first day of the New Year is always a bit disorienting for me. I try to look ahead to all that needs to be done while trying not to carry forward too much from 2017. I update all my calendars to look over the upcoming year while trying not be overwhelmed. I always need to remember it is just one day at a time and to treat each day as its own unique experience. I hope to have lots to share with you in the upcoming weeks. The pictures on the post today are of my final projects of December. The first is my thoughts as I worked quietly away on Christmas Eve
and the second is my piece for New Year's Eve.
I hope 2018 is both peaceful for you and filled with opportunities for you to believe in your dreams. Welcome 2018!