Friday, August 28, 2015

The Learning Curve

I have learned that what I have not drawn, I have never really seen... (Frederick Franck) I am in my third week of a month long study in Butterfly drawing and painting. What a challenge. It has stretched me into an area beyond what I could have imagined. It is has changed how I take my walk in the morning. I look around at everything. Looking to see how the light reflects on leaves, trees and flowers. I stopped my walk to pick up a dead butterfly and successfuly rehydrated her and added her to my collection! I spent a morning chasing butterflies and bees and bright insects with my camera hoping to get a perfect image.
When I pick up a butterfly specimen, my eye tries to discern the underlying colours and I try to transfer those colours to a sketch book to test my painting. The learning curve is huge, but I am loving challenge. Vellum studies are next as I commit to this process for the next several months. My goal is to combine small, naturalistic spot illustrations in with my calligraphic work.Study images coming soon!!! I believe that all of these precise and technical skills will help all of my artwork in the future. I can sense an evolutionary stage in my work on the horizon and I am ready for it!

Thursday, August 20, 2015


I am currenlty enrolled in a 4 week butterfly illustration class. I started out working with photos but it became clear to me very quickly that I needed a specimen to really study. I took a trip to the butterfly conservatory to purchase a specimen but found that I would have to take the mount apart to really study it. I turned to Thorne's Insect Shoppe online. Wow!!!!!!!!!!! The real challenge was not buying too much. Bearing in mind that I only need one butterfly to study for this class, I purchaesd 11 butterflies!!!! Some from Africa, India, South America and North America. If I had stayed on that website any longer, I would have bought several more. I thought that would take care of the specimen problem until I realized that the butterflies I ordered had come dehydrated and would require hydration! Thanks to youtube, there are several tutorials about how to hydrate the butterflies, which I did over the past 24 hours. My next learning curve to face was the fact that the butterflies don't immediately spring back into their open wing form once hydrated!!!! They need to be spread out and pinned into place!!! I don't have a high tolerance for bugs even when they are this pretty! This evening, Chris made me some foamboard butterfly spreading boards where I could pin the specimens into place. It was easier than I thought. Only one of the specimens has a slight tear in the wing. I will have to wait another 24 to 48 hours for these to dry out again. Then the process of illustration can begin for me. I will need to study the front side and underside of the wings. No matter how the drawings and paintings turned out, I have already learned so much! I can see each little face on the the butterfly, really observe their scales and vein structure. I am captivated at this point and will hopefully get some good drawings to share with you!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

August Study Days

August has been a strange month for me. Lots of work to sort through as I prepare for my busiest fall teaching line up I have had yet. I will be traveling to multiple guilds teaching the Enchanted Letter, English Roundhand, The Artful Flourish and finally Italian Hand. The gears switch slowly between Italian Hand and English Roundhand. Italian Hand has definitely become my default setting and I find that I want to retouch all my letters with Italian Hand shading!!! As I prepare for this workload, I took some time out to study. I will update you shortly with the outcome of a 4 week analytical study that is pushing my brain to the limit! I am not used to drawing things with mathematical precision but have found this to be a wonderful exercise for me! Results soon! But I wanted to show you these new brushes. They are from Rosemary and Co. I am very impressed with them. Love how they respond to my hand. Might just have to get one of each. You can find them online. More soon!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Powerful Words

I have never been so convinced of the power of the written word! This week, I received many beautiful letters. They all came for various reasons and with different messages but all of them brought a blessing to me. Reading them this time, I could hear the voices of my friends. I was so thankful that they took the time to put their thoughts down on paper for me. One of them came with little illustrations in it! Reminded me of the correspondence between John Ruskin and Kate Greenaway. Little illustrations often adorned their letters.
My friends at the post office take special care with my mail. They handle each piece carefully and show it off before they put it in my mail box!!!! When the mail comes home with me, it rests on my table until I have enjoyed the envelope for awhile. The mail waits until I am ready to sit down and open it! Thank you my dear friends for your caring thoughts this week. They came at the right time.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Pilot Custom 912 Fountain Pen

I made a very impulsive purchase at IAMPETH this year. I am the proud owner of Pilot Custom 912 Fountain Pen. The nib has been modified by pen genius Greg Minuskin.
If you have never seen his work, head on over to I was lucky enough to try out a modified pen that he had made for my dear friend George Dorsey. The pen nib was incredibly flexible and I could truly get the feel of the pressure and release of a pointed pen. When I sat down this year at IAMPETH and tried the Pilot pen, I instantly bonded to this beauty! I have used it every day since. It is a special treasure for me and has brought me so much joy. Thank you Greg for your Masterful work on this pen! I love it!!!

The Script in my Soul

I have been studying and practicing Italian Hand for the past three years. Never has a script been so mysterious and elusive. It is slow to reveal its secrets. Ambrose Heal in his book English Writing Masters and Their Copy Books, admits that the path to studying this hand remains largely untrodden. Yet through dedicated study and many conversations with Don Marsh, who I consider to be the greatest historian of Italian Hand, I have finally started to unveil the mysteries of this hand. What a ride this has been. In July, I taught my Poetic Pen class to 100 students in Franklin, Tennessee. This page was demonstrated during the class.
The response to the hand has been overwhelming! These capitals are from the hand of John Ayres and were penned in 1698. This page has influenced me more than any other in my study of the hand.
I have received numerous emails and now letters are coming through the mail addressed in Italian Hand. This beauty was sent to me by Kathleen Rollick.
I love her gorgeous lettering. My greatest joy is seeing this hand come to life through modern scribes. This script has captivated me body and soul. It looks strange with its odd placement of shades but as a mercantile script, this hand had the capabilities of building up speed while retaining its elegance. In my opinion, the "blob" shades are far easier to apply than the heavier pressured English Roundhand and the spacing is easier to achieve than Spencerian. It is pure magic to me and delight to practice. I will be bringing this historic hand to British Columbia in the fall and then to Binders in Atlanta in 2016. I look foward to more exploration into this script. It teaches me every time I pick up the pen. So glad to see the interest in it and watching it come back to life. If anyone wants further information about how to study this hand, I would recommend The Young Clerk's Assistant, by George Bickham. It is available as a Dover reprint.