Monday, July 18, 2016

The Ritual of Return

Just returning from my trip to Portland, Oregon for the 2017 IAMPETH Convention. What a week and what a process!!! Our convention was wonderful as usual. Filled with friends and all of the passion that comes when pen enthusiasts congregate together. Your obsession with ink is considered the norm and we can talk about snap shades and terminal lobes on exit strokes without drawing stares from others. It is a great week. Highlights for me were getting to meet Portland's Unipiper, Brian Kidd. He is a Portland icon and I was so happy that 2017 President Alesia Zorn brought him in for our opening reception!!!! He was a treat. I had requested that Alesia have him appear in his traditional Darth Vader helmet with the flaming bagpipes! He was wonderful!
What a great kick off to the week. Highlights of the convention are too many to mention. I spent time in the archive room studying the incredible collection that we had and throughout the week enjoyed walks around the river, taking classes and trying to adjust to their time zone which was never entirely successful.
This year I was commissioned to create two certificates for Ronald and Donald Tate in recognition to their contributions to IAMPETH. The certificates were on display throughout the week in the Archive Room which was such a special treat to see.
The convention recharged my love of the pointed pen. My class was on Wednesday where 115 of us explored Victorian Pen work techniques in my Vintage Garden class.
I loved every minute of the convention this year and hope others did too. This year was the first time I took a sketchbook with me. I have fellow botanical art enthusiasts there at the convention and a few of us wanted some time to compare notes. I was amazed at how many times my sketchbook helped me on my journey.
An 11 hour layover in Chicago was a great time to finish a sketchbook page I started with my garden pansy. I worked on water droplets and a side view of a pansy leaf. I made a mental note to keep a waterbrush pen with me in my tool kit as I had to improvise with lid from a water bottle in the airport!!! Morning walks in Portland were with my dear friend Joe. Along the riverwalk were beautiful flowers and foliage that I had to captured in my sketchbook. I picked one California Poppy and tried quickly to record the details.
So hard to work from life when the details change every minute! I also picked an Oregon grape leaf which reminded me of holly. The bush looks like a Holly plant with clusters of grapes. My pages were completed in OHare on my return journey and kept me awake after an overnight flight and a 7 hour layover! Now I am safely home and the ritual of return begins for me. I enjoy every second of the process. Tools are cleaned and carefully replaced in their designated spaces. I return to my usual walking path around the garden and in the neighbourhood. I carefully wash down the surface of my desk as I prepare not only to unpack my suitcase but also unpack my mind and layout fresh goals. I revisit my daily calendar to see what tasks are coming up but I also take stock of what needs to change. Every trip for me brings some sort of change but IAMPETH usually brings some major changes. It refueled my focus to complete my upcoming book on The Enchanted Letter and also planted seeds for a second book on Flourishing techniques. Now I have to decide which order to produce the work. The ritual of return for me is as important, if not more so, than the trip itself. This morning my cat Oscar was waiting for me expecting me to put him on his leash and take him for a garden walk. He has been with me throughout the morning and now took his his usual spot on my comfortable computer chair
while I have to make do with a hard wooden chair! I am home.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Small Blessings

Small details can make such a huge difference. I continue to study botanical drawing techniques and I often pause in wonder at the process. I love the subject matter. I love working with flowers. I love spending time outside in the garden or just walking. It all seems such a blessing to take this study time. I am still experimenting with both coloured pencil and watercolour. The coloured pencil process is easiet to control although much more time consuming than watercolour. I recently learned the difference between a sharp pencil and truly sharp pencil. I purchased a Rapesco pencil sharpener and was thrilled with how much better it was than my electric sharpener.
The sharpener has quirks. It doesn't particularly like thinner pencils and will break those leads quite easily. But the handle can be removed and the broken lead can easily be cleaned out. The polychromos pencils are my favourite for coloured pencil work. I spent some time getting them all properly sharpened.
Today is packing day for IAMPETH. I usually take packing days as a little break from my normal routine. Today after packing my bags, I spent some time sketching a pansy in one of my garden containers.
They look like they would be a simple subject, but the colour variations are incredibly complex. I need to spend more time working on my sketch but I was blessed with the company of one of our garden chipmunks.
He visited me faithfully as I sketched until all of the peanuts were gone! When he doesn't have peanuts...I suspect he is one of the culprits eating my geraniums and pansies. But he is forgiven. I enjoyed spending time just working on stome study pages with no clear goal in mind.Although I wasn't really happy with the pansy page, I was happier with the red currant study page in my Stillman and Birn journal.
Cherish your summer and the blessings each day will bring to you.