Sunday, May 29, 2016

Gratitude in May

Where has this month gone? Seems like I am full swing with teaching workshops and finishing final touches on my Enchanted Meadow Workshop which launches in August! So happy to be able to present that course and share the techniques that I have been honing for years. I created this little blue bird miniature
as part of the notes for the class. Lots of dry and moist brush techniques on him and happy to add him to my Enchanted Meadow series. The process of painting him was as peaceful and meditative as any time I spend flourishing with my pen. I will happily send him out as a note card of encouragement to anyone who feels they need a note from a friend. Now and then I get overwhelmed with the emails in my inbox. So many people in pain and struggling to find peace through mindful practice with the pen. If a little note will brighten your day, I am happy to send one your way! I am so grateful to those who read this blog, or follow me on instagram or Facebook. Now and then I even get a surprise in the mail! This week a lovely package arrived of gorgeous antique laces and linens! A beautiful and welcome surprise! Thank you dear Pat for thinking of me!
As May draws to a close, I want to be grateful for the blessings of friendships, peaceful creativity and the joy of sharing what I love with others.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Iluminated Alphabet Page

Last year I worked on an Illuminated page of the Armenian Alphabet
for an exhibit commemorating the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. I remember being very lost in the process as I cannot read or write Armenian and the Alphabet seemed very strange to me. But after the exhibit, the framed piece came home to me and it had become one of my most cherished pieces of artwork. In February of this year, I started working on a similar project but this time illuminating the Italian Hand alphabet. I need to be clear, that a pointed pen alphabet with a heavily illuminated border, raises questions and eyebrows. I was told from the minute I started learning illumination techniques, that it could not be combined with pointed pen. But to be honest, I really didn't care what anyone else thought as this is a personal piece that I wanted to work on for myself. I started with no clear plan. Just penned my hybridized Italian Hand alphabet on the Fabriano paper and then designed the border around the alphabet. I used measurements for the border that I had seen on other illuminated pages from the Renaissance as well as flower and foliage that are typically seen in Renaiassance manuscripts.
After the lettering, the next stage is always the gilding. I used Miniatum ink and 23K Czech gold leaf. The next stage of development is the underpainting. This is the stage where you start to bring life to the work.
This is always the trickiest part of the work for me as you really can't see a clear picture of what your colour choices will do to the final piece. I stuck with bold colours for the design but utilized pinks and olive greens rather than bold Cadmium red and Viridian or Hooker's green. I wanted some of the colours to be pulled back from what would be typical in Renaissance manuscript work. In hindsight, I should have used an Opera Rose instead of Rose Dore which would have given a more intense pink. Next time!!! This underpainting stage is known as the ugly stage of illumination. Nothing is clear. Paint looks dreary and the gilding looks flat and lifeless. Many students of illumination get discouraged at this stage thinking this will be their final look. But it is only a building stage. This work will continue to evolve.
Slowly the intensity of the colour is built up in layers. I try not to apply a thick wash of colour but prefer to gradually build the intensity. I added some Payne's Grey to the French Ultramarine Blue to add some depth. Burnt Sienna was added to the Quinachridone Gold to add depth to the gold tones and Alizarin Crimson deepened the Rose Dore. I should add that all of this is watercolour and not Gouache. I have been challenged by some artists to use Gouache rather than watercolour but it is absolutely my preference to build up these layers with silky appllictions of watercolour rather than the more velvety look of Gouache. The preference is personal and I feel I have more control with watercolour than with Gouache. The Olive Green was overpainted with Holbein Shadow Green to add depth to the leaves. Bleedproof White and McCaffery Brown Filigree work make up the final stages of the piece.
The Bleedproof white adds dimension to the foliage and the inking stage is the final clean up to the piece as well as making the design look more complex and ornate. It was a pleasure from start to finish and a learning piece throughout. The piece took me over 2 months to complete but I only worked on it for short periods of time. Skills evolved and changed as I worked on the piece. More skill was gained over the brush and consistency of paint. It was so much fun to be totally immersed in a personal project like this. And I still have the pleasure of searching for a frame.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

K is for Kathleen

This week I recieved a very precious gift from a wonderful artist. Kathleen Rollick is a talented calligrapher that I met at IAMPETH a few years ago. When I was president of the organization in 2014 she gave me a beautiful piece of her artwork that she had made into a necklace. I was so touched by her generous spirit and felt so privileged to have a piece of her artwork to wear. When I received a package in the mail from her this week, my heart skipped a beat.
Anything she would share with me would be a welcome surprise but nothing could prepare me for what was in the package. I knew of her incredible work of handpainted Easter Eggs. I had stumbled across an article about her Easter Eggs while I was looking up information for my Indianapolis conference in 2014. You can read the article here. Her prayerful process of the painting the eggs and and creating them for a specific person was so touching and heartwarming. I never dreamed I would have one of my own. She enclosed the fragile egg carefully in a tea container and sent along a very special note along with a key of the all of the symbols she used to paint the egg.
I can only imagine how time consuming the whole process was for her to complete. And to know that I had been prayed for while she painted the egg, brought tears to my eyes.
What a precious and special gift. Something I will always cherish. And now I have the joy of searching for the just the right egg cup for display! I will enjoy the hunt in the antique shops! I created this Enchanted Letter as a thank you for Kathleen.
Something from my hands and my heart with sincere gratitude for her artwork. I created the first design on the matte film, trying my Enchanted Letter techniques and gilding on the film. It worked really well and I was pleased with the results up until the Finetec gold was added for embellishement. The Finetec gold seemed to spread out a little too far on the matte film.
I continued to finish the piece but ultimately did a second letter to send to Kathleen. This time working on Somerset Satin paper with a slight texture. Both letters were created with a such appreciation for this amazing artist.
Her incredibly generous gift to me was a reminder of how healing and blessing our work can be to others. If the thought crosses your mind to send a piece of your artwork to someone else....act on it. Don't second guess yourself. Just trust your instincts and see what happens. You have no idea the chain reaction of joy that it can bring to someone else. It can be as simple as a decorated envelope with a note inside to let someone know you were thinking of them! Now I just need more hours in the day to get notes to those who have been on my mind. Thank you dear Kathleen for blessing me!