Sunday, August 28, 2016
Not sure where this quote came from. I had it jotted down in one of my journals and decided it would be perfect for a butterfly exploration. We planted a butterfly bush in the meditation garden and it has had many beautiful butterflies. One visitor was a Great Spangled Frittilary. I had never seen one before and wanted to paint it immediately. I did not have one in my specimen collection so I sort of created a composite butterfly based on a Comma Butterfly in my collection, a Painted Lady and my memory of the Great Spangled Frittilary. That is the beauty of The Enchanted Meadow. Our creatures don't have to be entirely real, but they do help to hone skills and develop keen observation skils. Since the Birmingham workshop launch of The Enchanted Meadow, I have had multiple requests to teach it at various guilds. I will keep you posted! I have been thrilled with student work too. I have received emails from students who have put Pandas in their Enchanted Meadow as well as a gorgeous chickadee. So exciting to see that enthusiasm for painted miniatures is contagious. My email inbox continues to be full. Lots of questions from various artists and new students to the calligraphic world. The new students seem to be captivated through all of the calligraphic art they see on instagram. I see this as a mixed blessing. There are lots of wonderful posts. There are lots of different styles to explore and so many different opinions of what is right and what is wrong. No shortages of opinions, including my own. Some great advice out there and some not so great. What I do see is a trend to create quickly and post instantly. My advice to students who have worked through the basics and are getting bored of just exploring a single word or group of letters is to start to develop a portfolio of completed artwork. You are never too young in your journey to do this. You will develop an eye for compostion and skills at working on larger pieces. I waited far too long in my journey to do this, thinking that my skills weren't worthy to be put on a piece of proper art paper. Let me assure you, this couldn't be further than the truth. Invest in some quality paper and work on a finished piece that intriques you. Learn the lesson that it has to teach, sign it, date it and then do another one. Develop a sense of awareness of all the things that can go right or terribly wrong on a piece of artwork and keep notes on your process. Dig deeper, challenge yourself and constantly explore. There is fine line between exploring subjects that are just a bit too difficult for your skill level and those that are too easy and will not challenge you. Find that balance and give it a try. The worse thing that can happen is that you don't like what you create. Just move on to the next project after learning the lessons of the previous one. I know I say this a lot, but I seem to have a lot of people feeling " stalled" or hitting a plateau. This is one way forward. We all hit those plateaus and we all feel stalled now and then. The only way I know to get through that is to keep showing up at your work space and trying something one day at a time. This painted butterfly piece taught me so much and challenges me to try another and another. I hope those who read this blog post find some encouragement to try a larger piece. Branch out from just practicing your favourite script and work on a finished composition. See what happens! Be wildy patient with yourself as you try new things and work through ideas. There is no race and no finish line that I have ever seen or heard of. Just more to explore! Happy exploring!!!
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Right now I find time for botanical art work here and there. I would love to immerse myself in the process much more deeply, but I have so many other commitments to take care of. Lots of upcoming travel dates and lots of commission work. Not complaining....just trying to manage my time more effectively! The botanical art journey has been wonderful so far. Intriguing and mesermerizing. It has awakened my sense of awareness and a deep appreciation for the beauty that surrounds me. It has changed me. I am now impossibly difficult to walk with! I stop and look at leaves on the ground, crab apples that are slowly ripening or a grasshopper that is resting. Grocery stores and farmer's markets are equally distracting! I am not looking at produce now to consume, but to draw! It's really quite fun. I want to see everything. I want to take it all in. I have such a deep respect for those botanical artists who can capture every detail and still draw me inward for a closer look at what they are illustrating. The process is captivating. Some people just don't get it at all and think I should just take a photograph. That comment just totally misses the point. What I am learning in the world of botanical art confirms the process that I go through as a pointed pen artist. It is total immersion with your subject. When I look at a leaf, I am not trying to recreate every detail like a photograph would. I am trying to understand the subject. Trying to really see all the different colours in a single green leaf. Look at the veining patterns. Try to see every colour and shape that is represented. It is fascinating. It is endless. I can safely say that I am hooked! These studies help inform my calligraphic work. They help me appreciate the skills I have with a pointed pen and help me to see how much more there is to learn. Every day is an adventure and a challenge. Every day is filled with wonder. Pictures in this blog post are from my sketchbook and from my garden. Enjoy each day and each season as it comes and goes!
Thursday, August 4, 2016
I started illumination classes in 2005. I was taught by an absolute master of the medium Debbie Thompson Wilson. I think her soul resides in the Medieval era. We learned more than just how to copy a medieval miniature. We learned about the meanings behind the minatures and the humour that was often embedded secretly within. I was captivated by the techniques and the subject matter. In 2011 I started to launch out with my own studies. I was not content to take an exisiting miniature and recreate it on vellum or paper. I wanted to combine my own ideas and perhaps some of my Victorian influences. As a result of those studies, I produces a series of miniatures called The Enchanted Meadow.
Monday, July 18, 2016
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!
Friday, July 8, 2016
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.
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
I have been working on my calligraphic hands since 2003. I rarely delve into the edge pen, but when I do, I usually choose German Text. My source material is an old booklet that is crumbling but it has one of the nicest German Text hands I have ever seen. The book was penned by L.H. Hausam and contains several alphabets.
Thursday, June 16, 2016
I have come across some of the writings of John Ruskin in my studies of Kate Greenaway. Kate and John corresponded for years. John Ruskin was very encouraging of her work and some of his comments and critiques of her work are quite remarkable. This month I have been working on leaf studies in botanical illustration and Ruskin came to mind. One of his quotes... "PAINT the leaves as they grow! If you can paint one leaf, you can paint the world." has inspired me for many years but I feel like I am just beginning to understand it. There is a world of patience and understanding to find in a single leaf. I am still working on vellum and watercolour and will post more about that soon. But I have been diving into the world of Faber Castell Polychromos coloured pencils and finding a lot of lessons to be learned. Learning to tone, and layer colors and really see light and shade is mesmerizing. I stop and look at leaves on the shrubs and trees as I go on my daily walks. I am truly mesmerized. I am overwhelmed with the beauty in our world even in a single leaf. Today I worked on a sketchbook page and I look foward to expanding these pages and my studies.
Sunday, May 29, 2016
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
Monday, May 9, 2016
Last year I worked on an Illuminated page of the Armenian Alphabet
Thursday, May 5, 2016
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.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.