Friday, March 25, 2016

The Race of Time

Diving into different forms of studies to help augment my calligraphic work has been an eye opening experience. There are so many layers to peel back and discover. Whether I am studying a butterfly specimen
or trying to truly observe something as seemingly simple as a blueberry, I find myself mesmerized by the process. My study into Botancial art has led me to the work of an artist named Rory McEwen. His work is fascinating. Much of his work is done on vellum. Many paintings are a simple leaf
or flower placed on an oversized piece of vellum.
Every detail is captured and preserved. I find it so engrossing to just observe both the simplicity of the composition while seeing the magnitude of the detail. His use of vellum is extraordinary. Botanical work is for detail enthusiasts. There is no denying it. His book " The Colours of Reality' is wonderful if you are able to find a copy. Although I loved the paintings and the essays, I spent the most time on the end pages as I read through his work diary entries. He carefully dated each entry and noted his hours of work on each of the subjects he was painting.
I marveled at his routine. I applauded his discipline. I was stunned at how quickly some paintings were created while others took him so much longer and notes were added if he went back to rework them. So much is captured on that paper just by observing his routine! Back in self-reflection mode, I wonder at my own routine. Rory's journal entries are from 1981 and 1982. It was a time before instagram and facebook. Pretty sure he didn't have a cell phone sending push notifications. I notice that he gets interrupted in his work as he takes time out for travel, packing up his studio, cleaning his studio and photographing. I can relate to that. Just two end pages in the book but I feel as if I know something about his routine by reading his careful notes. As I reflect on my work routine, lately it is more gaps and interruptions than work. Something is out of order in my routine and needs to be put back in order. I think the journal entries are a great idea so I can get a snap shot of how my time is spent. Reading through the book, has brought more questions to my mind than answers but the time to question things is a welcome time for me. It's so funny what can be hiding unexpectedly in the pages of a book! Looking foward to trying the work diary entries to see what I can discover about myself. I will keep you posted.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

The March Hare

It happens every Spring. It must be seeing all the Spring decorations in the stores or a touch of Spring Fever. I always start painting rabbits.
I love them. I don't mind in the least that they eat my vegetables in the garden while they are still sprouting. They also eat all of the dandelions!! One of my first study pieces I ever did with my teacher and Master Illuminator Debbie Thompson Wilson was a little Medieval Rabbit. I still have him framed and I look at him every day. When I see my first attempts at Illumination, I wonder why I ever continued. But there is something in adding tiny decadent touches of gold to work that is so appealing. I continue to get emails from people who are discouraged with their current progress. We've all been there. But I have learned over the years that the work itself is the reward. Every time I sit down to write or to paint I am investing in this creative life. I am pursuing something that I believe is so deeply personal. Be ok with the journey. Be ok with the time you need to invest in it. Just keep going and find the teachable moment that each piece of artwork has to offer you. There is a hidden gem in each piece that only you can discover as you continue to work. The fact is that although I study Medieval and Renaissance Illumination techniques, my work is far from it. The underlying influence of all my work is the Victorian Era. I couldn't stifle it if I tried. The March Hare is a result of my hybridized Victorian style blended with a touch of gilding. The miniature is painted on a scrap of calfskin vellum. Painting is done with watercolor. This past week I tried working with gouache and found that I fought the medium too much. Watercolour is my medium of choice. I am really enjoying my Daniel Smith dot card and I have drastically expanded my collection of their transparent pigments. Many of them appear on this little bunny and I amazed at their ease of use. I have been trying a variety of brushes that I received in the mail from a dear friend. I am learning that a larger brush can work even in tiny miniature painting as long as that point holds. I am finding that I prefer the larger brushes! Gilding is done with Miniatum Ink and Jerry Tresser's Czech 23K gold leaf. The gold is the brightest I have ever seen. The March Hare is designed for an upcoming workshop I will be presenting in Birmingham, Alabama. I have been developing the Enchanted Meadow workshop for several years.
Much of the study has come through observing the work of Marie Angel and her excellent guidance in her Painting for Calligraphers book. The foliate work presented is based on principles of Victorian Ornamental design which seems to come into all of my work no matter what medium I choose. Gilding techniques are simple in this workshop but the painting techniques presented are slow and mindful. But what a labour of love. This spring, as the robins return and the chimpmunks and rabbits start to make frequent visits I will be ever vigilant to observe them and try to jot notes in my study books. Quite a few Enchanted Meadow works may appear on my blog as I work on a new set of handouts for the class. There are still a few hours of work left to do on the rabbit but he is starting to shape up.
I know I am rushing the season...but Happy Spring!