Sunday, December 29, 2013
From start to finish, my project took 41 days! I started with the desire to really enter the working methods of the Boucicaut Master, an elusive and anonymous French Illuminator from the 15th Century. My portion of the border is far larger than the original. I worked at a size of 2 1/4" By 10 inches and I dramatically enlarged the image I found online to study the details. The purpose of studying this way and copying this manuscript was to see what I could absorb of the Boucicaut Master's attention to detail. I was not disappointed! By enlarging the original, I could see every detail. From the individual seed pods in the acanthus leaf centres, to the veining drawn on the stalks of the cornflowers to the curls and the part in the angels' hair! I learned how the shading was applied to the acanthus leaves. I could see several shades of lavendar and blue in the violets and I could see that how he painted the curves of the violet leaves, in fact he painted a ruffle on the violet leaf!
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Wishing all of my friends, students and colleagues a very Merry Christmas. Thank you for all of the encouragment and inspiration. Hope this holiday season is filled with peace for you all. The video reflects my usual practice time...with Oscar either perching over top of my work or very close by. Merry Christmas!
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
There are mornings when the thought of writing wakes me up and I have to get into the studio to play. This morning as the sun rose slowly, I found a blue/grey piece of Canson paper and a Tennyson quote that has been rolling around in my head. The house is quiet in the morning and I can work in peace. I mixed a new batch of ivory ink and wrote the words.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I have spent my first week with the Boucicaut Master. I have spent 7 hours this week in the underpainting stage of the image. The underpainting stage consists of a light wash of the colours of the design. Traditionally, I paint the foliate features first but I started this miniature with the two features that will cause me the most trouble, the angels! Remembering that I enlarged this image quite a bit, I marvel at the skill of the Boucicaut Master. The first surprise that came to me was the angel at the bottom of the border. Without a doubt he is painted with a pug nose!
Sunday, December 8, 2013
I spend a profound amount of time in the illumination world. Next to my Ornamental Penmanship and Offhand Flourishing, studying and illumination take up the greatest portion of my time. This week, as I was going through my files, I had a crazy thought about trying do a portion of a manuscript that I loved. I wanted to do a Nativity or an Annunciation scene to mark this festive season but I soon found myself in the world of angel borders and settled on a small border.
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Thanks to the Penworld article a few months ago, my Mom phoned the local paper! They came for a visit last week and I had fun showing them my pens, nibs, inkwells, treasured envelopes and my work. Nice to have the mention of cursive handwriting!!!You can view the link here if you like!
Friday, November 29, 2013
Shaking off the excessive loops and frilly script of my Christmas envelopes. I found a steel blue piece of Mi-Tientes paper and some bleedproof white. The December words I found online seemed to match the unadorned script. I love Roundhand in all its splendor and when it is softly simplified. This piece was done with a straight holder and an Esterbrook 128 nib.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
I spend so much time promoting handwriting and singing the praises of the written word that I had to share this story with you. I just came home from a teaching trip to Chicago and sat down with my cup of tea to open the mail. When I came to this letter, I did not recognize the lettering but stopped to admire the border design. IAMPETH. For years, she was a faithful board member and admired for her playful 'swearing in of officers' at the General Business Meeting. I remembered our last conversation at the convention in Phoenix. She grabbed my hand and showed me the envelope I had sent her in the envelope exchange and apologized for being late in sending hers to me. I didn't know she was struggling with cancer. I had no idea. When her daughter's note spilled out from the envelope with the message that she had found this addressed envelope along with her Mother's note, I was moved to tears!
Thursday, November 14, 2013
I got an email several weeks ago through the Iampeth website asking if I would contribute thoughts about handwriting and fountain pens. I eagerly responded to the writer and soon found myself on Skype to a writer in England. She asked me questions about handwriting and using a fountain pen and both are becoming a large part of my daily routine. I didn't set out to collect fountain pens, but somehow found myself with three of them! Phidon Pens and I have my eye on a Lilliput pen which is one of the most adorable fountain pens I have seen! I am enjoying changing the colours of my ink and when the Rembrandt Visconti pen is my hand, I feel so privileged to be able to use it. The interview appeared online this week and my thoughts about handwriting and slowing down have been recorded. I feel like a walking experiment as I approach the busiest season that I have ever found myself in and still reaching daily for pen and ink. I still hold my position that in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the pre-holiday season, writing and calligraphic art is like meditating on paper. I can feel a physical difference as I slow down and tranfer thoughts and words to paper rather than get caught up in the speed of life around me. I may detatch digitally for periods of time in the coming year to catch my breath mentally and physically! I have found other calming projects to write about as well. Right now I am so thankful for paper, pens and friends to write to. Hope you enjoy the article.
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Phidon Pens in Cambridge. I've lost track of how many students have gone through the program. This morning, we will continue our handwriting classes while a new class in Letter Writing is launched this afternoon. I can only describe the process of writing letters as magic, enchanting or charming. The thought to engage with a friend or colleague hits me out of nowhere. I pen my thoughts on paper. I letter an envelope to help carry the thoughts across the miles to my friend. As I walk the letter to the post office, it begins its journey. I never know when it will land on my friend's doorstep or what type of day they are having when they read the letter. A simple pleasure and a simple joy that we can share that is non-technical and so graceful. As much as I love the convenience of my computer, email and technology, my letter writing is a push back against the harsh digital glare of a screen. A glimpse back at a gentler time that I know I have romanticized. I travel to my class this morning armed with dozens of letters that I have received over the years. Thank you to all who have written to me and thank you for the pleasure that you bring to me when I sit at my desk to write back.
Friday, October 4, 2013
Today I sat down at my cluttered work desk. I didn't have a lot of time to work, I should have been doing other tasks, starting with tidying my workspace but the pen called me! Spencerian Zen is a term my friend Michael Sull used at his Spencerian Saga. We would watch him approach a blank paper and work on a piece of ornamental penmanship from start to finish without any pre-planning or idea in mind for the look of the final piece. It is this process that is the root of true offhand flourishing. I try to tell my students this in as many ways as I can, but the truth of the matter is that while I flourish, I am not aware of any thoughts in my head. As Ralph Kramden would say" they can examine my head, and you know what they will find.......nothing!!!" True Offhand work is not pre-penciled. It is not designed. It just happens.
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
October 1st already! Time to update the blog. My life is overwhelming at the moment as my classes are starting up again, I work on the Iampeth conference and watch my October calendar fill to capacity. I was reminded this evening of the time outs I often gave myself regularly to retreat to the coffee shop and just work with my pen in solitude. Something about the ambient noise of people chatting and hearing espresso brewing was condusive to my work. I need to take more of those time outs regularly! This evening, I shut my studio door and opened a new bottle of Edelstein Amber Ink. I was given the gift of a Visconti Rembrant fountain pen and the Amber ink matches it very well. But the first work out I gave the ink was with my Spencerian 1 and my snakewood straight holder on Maruman Imagination paper. The fountain pen ink feels different than McCaffery's as it flows out of the pen. It is transparent and rich in colour. It doesn't quite deliver the hairlines that McCaffery's does but the Maruman paper could take the pressure and the ink had very little bleed. Fun to play with these inks and enjoy their vibrant colours. Happy to fill my fountain pen with it. The hand that I was practicing is my English Roundhand. My caps were getting very loose as I progressed down the page. Happy October 1st.
Monday, September 2, 2013
Part of working outdoors this summer was getting to know the local families of birds. Not being able to distinguish the male jays from the female,I named every blue jay that came to the feeder Juliet.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
I have spent every possible moment I had this summer in my little outdoor sanctuary. I love my studio but Oscar loves it too and his favourite thing lately has been to lie down on my hands while I am working. He also loves a fresh sheet of paper and thinks it is his job to bruise it before I start working. I still take him outside on the leash to let him explore and last week when I took him out I saw my first Carolina Wren.
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
Iampeth. One of the first decisions I made was selecting the designer of our new logo. If you are not familiar with his work, please let me introduce Don Marsh. He is a Cincinnati based artist, designer, calligrapher and author. Don is a long time friend and his work has been admired by many of us online. His professional work may be seen on branding for Febreeze, Butterball and John Morrell among many others. Don began his career as an illustrator in 1970 and by 1980 his professional focus was exclusively letterforms, especially for commercial use. His passion for letterforms is as great, if not greater, today as it was 33 years ago. I have long admired and appreciated his design skills and his knowledge of the history of English Roundhand. He is passionate about the history and progression of script lettering and is so generous in sharing his knowledge and skill. It was so exciting to watch him draft and complete this beautiful logo that Bickham himself would be proud to display. Enjoy the abundance of ovals in this elegant design and please visit Don’s website at
or find him on Facebook to see his beautiful calligraphic artwork. I look forward to putting this logo to good use at our conference. It is the first of many wonderful things I have in store for you.”
Thursday, August 8, 2013
I will never depart from my love of the Victorian era. I know they overdo everything they but their romance of the whimsical and the ornate is fascinating. I still take a weekly trip to the antique shop to see if I can find a doily that needs to be resucued and repurposed. I am still known to take out the finest bone china teacup for tea in the garden for one in the afternoon. There is something so delicate and graceful about the ornamentation they choose to put on their pillowcases, china patterns and stationery. This little angel was inspired by a Victorian Scrap. I was sparked by the idea of putting the foliate work around the intial similar to my Enchanted letterforms.The initial measures 2" x 1 1/2", on vellum with Ziller Buffalo Brown Ink, Watercolour, Miniatum Ink and Pastel.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Iampeth president. I spend a lot of time working toward next year's conference but I am approaching the job with determination to leave white space in my life for personal work, study and those online lessons which are still in progress! The white space lesson is a great stress reliever. The quote I used in this piece reflects the time I have spent in nature this summer. The season flies by so quickly in Canada. I try to observe the changes in the garden every day.
Friday, July 5, 2013
My last official piece of work that needs to be shipped before traveling to Iampeth. Starting July 14th, I take over the role of President of Iampeth and Everything in Order will be my motto for the year! Looking foward to the challenge! This piece represents the first time I have succesfully gilded with Instacoll. My theory has been that gold will stick to anything except instacoll. I have no idea why it was successful this time. But I am grateful. This pen drawn initial is 2 1/4" high on Fabriano Artistico paper. On its way to my dear friend Elaine who sent me a surprise gift this week.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Phidon Pens for having the vision for the handwriting classes, my wonderful students and to Platt Rogers Spencer, the hero of the story.
Friday, May 24, 2013
Every now and then I am asked to talk about my process of work. Since 2010, I have been carrying a journal and mechanical pencil with me wherever I go. I have several of them on the go. These 5 were within closest reach in the studio. They have transformed my process when it comes to designing work. My flourishing work still remains spontaneous and without pre-planning. But larger work, engrossings, Enchanted Letters and Enchanted Meadow pieces get their start in my journals. My Leuctturm Journal with the grid lines is filled to page 207 of a 250 page Journal. I find myself trying not to fill it up! It has been my travel companion for these past 3 years, records the questions that students have at my workshops, hold the roughs of every Enchanted Letter I have designed, has my recipe for making ivory ink, contains handwritng exercises for my penmanship classes, border designs and the list goes on and on. Now I don't know how I could ever travel without it as it has become some a wonderful reference tool for me! I guess I will be brave and fill it up and hope the next gridded journal proves as valuable to me. Even the process of keeping a journal is evolving in my art studio. The pencil sketch now serves me best as a rough draft of my finished piece. In the past, I would have used my sketch to take a tracing or a scan for my final piece. I find though, that the tracing process has a deadening effect on the final piece. I am finding it better to capture ideas in my journal and plan a design, but my recent Enchanted Letter designs are drawn freely on my final art paper. I certainly didn't stray far from my original sketch idea.