Friday, December 31, 2010

Thank you cards

Spurred by a gift of a really cute pad of papers, I made these (and more) thank you cards for my Christmas gifts.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

In the Midst of Winter

Started a couple of pieces today. Wasn't feeling very creative, so browsed some saved favorites which jump-started this one. Lots of small and large white lettering in the background for texture.

This one is acrylics on watercolor paper with gesso and inks (McCaffrey's Ivory and Moon Palace Sumi.)

I've signed up for an oil pastel workshop tomorrow. Hopefully it will make me feel creative before I have to return to work from this end of year vacation.

Friday, December 17, 2010


My friend Pat has the coolest blog! Actually, Pat's blog current post is such fun, I think you'd like to visit her blog and see it too. Check this week's post out at Plan to click on every part of the Christmas tree to see cool art stuff. If you have time to spare, visit some of those links!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Sketchbook Challenge for 2011

2011 - good grief! Wasn't it just yesterday when everyone was scared of Y2K? How can 2011 be coming at us so quickly?

Anyway, Jill Berry posted information about a Sketchbook Challenge on her blog this week, and I've decided that's just what I need to jump start my art journaling. I've started to journal a few times, but never quite got it going on a regular basis. This challenge sounds made to order for me. There will be lots of inspiration from other art journalers, and an assigned theme each month. I will be posting my results. It starts in January. Fingers crossed! (To learn more about it, click on the sketchbook challenge button to the right.)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Calligraphy Birthday Cards, Penman Drive & Nature's Calligraphy

A recent business trip took me to Jacksonville Beach for a week. Below are some photos of observed 'natural calligraphy'. There's also a street sign which I found very apropos - Penman Drive. This was snapped at its intersection with Beach Road. Had I been like my friend Andrew, I'd have taken time to try some beach calligraphy, but with limited beach time I settled for photos of the natural beauty instead.

Wading in the Atlantic Ocean on a beautiful beach in mid-November...what a blessing!

Below is a display of the birthday cards I received this year. I did receive one or two after the photo was taken, but this includes all of the calligraphy cards from my wonderful exchange group.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

My Birthday

My birthday gift from the sweetest daughter in law, Sandy - She worked for weeks on this gift. It is spectacular and I love it. The colors don't show up as nicely here as in person, but you can get an idea of the detailed work she did. Thank you, Sandy! I feel so special.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Frog Prince

My latest job included these darling frog prince place cards. The gold is more vivid. These are just a few. The ink is a blend of McCaffrey's ivory and Moon Palace Sumi (black) to make gray. It is said that you have to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. I wish my bride a lifetime of happiness with her prince.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Moon Lettering - Missing in Action

An online calligraphy group I've belonged to for many years, has recently had a discussion thread about calligraphy as art. Today I found and posted this nugget from my letterlady blog on the topic, referring to an exhibit I'd visited in late 2008. Here is my post and the earlier blogpost. I wish I had a photo from the exhibit - especially of the moon lettering. I can't remember what it was like, but I'm imagining it as full and round.

Late to the party, but I happened to run across this blog post from Nov. 1, 2008
that mentions calligraphic art. Laurie Doctor and Steve Skaggs had invited
three other scribes (Yves Leterme, Monica Dengo and Maya Huber) to exhibit with
them in Louisville. Very fine work, as I recall, most of it was very artful -
less about reading words than feeling the presentation of them. Here are my
words then:
----------- ---------------- ------------------ ---------------
As luck would have it, the Second Street bridge was backed up so it was a second
reason to detour and go to the Cressman Center to see Steve and Laurie's exhibit
one more time. I arrived just before the gallery closed and was fortunate to
have the gallery to myself for contemplative study of each piece. Loved the
textures Laurie Doctor incorporated into her large canvases. Textural painting
is one of my favorite means of expression, and she does it so well. She also
used "Moon Lettering" - which I'm not sure if it is her own creation or if it's
based on a font. Very graphic, and she used it - and other styles - upside down,
backwards, etc. to great effect. Steve Skaggs used variations of color in his
all-one-format pieces. They were rectangular pieces on paper, heavily coated
with a clear medium for both sheen and protection, mounted on black in open
black wood frames with no glass. Very beautiful...layered passages of lettering
in many different styles. The three other artists of the 'five' (from four
countries) also had good work - every one in a very different style. It is a
wonderful showcase of lettering as art. Laurie's sketchbook journals are so
intriguing...snippets of her life and glimpses into her deep range of talents.
It was a nice way to end a busy work week. the time I left the
gallery, the bridge traffic had cleared away and it was smooth driving all the
way home. Serendipity.
Calligraphy is what we do, whether we do it artfully or intentionally as fine
art or on envelopes or simply to put a poem to paper. I think sometimes the calligrapher is an artist, and calligraphy is art. In the pieces from this exhibit I think that most of them were art first, calligraphy second. Most often, it's the other way around. And there's nothing wrong with that.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Neuland -- Backgrounds -- ChiLife

My great friend Diana Hutchison did this mixed media on canvas, "Chi-Life". Diana was one of my first calligraphy teachers, and continues to inspire me. It is basically a painted collage of Chicago and interprets several of her daughter and granddaughter's most meaningful locations there. Many mediums were incorporated and the photo does not do justice to the color and intricacy of this piece, but I wanted to share it anyway.

This is the starting point for one of the techniques we did in the Judy Melvin workshop this past weekend in Indy. It is lettering with bleach on black paper with an automatic pen. I love the abstract look.

Here is my bleached Neuland piece with pastel pencil embellishment. Instructor Judy has sent me to the internet looking for Russian Women Artists (from the early 20th Century), because she thought it looked like their work. (Look closely at the photo below and you can see the piece before I added pastel pencil.)

End of day sampling of participants' pieces.

I believe this is the work of my seatmate, Patty Bertsch. It represents another technique. The letters were written with an automatic pen dipped in bleach. After they dried, the bleached letters were touched with pastels.

My name in Sumi inked Neuland, embellished with painted-on vinery.

Jace's name lettered in a stylized Neuland and embellished with painted symbols.

Bleach-penned letters on a rich yellow paper.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Graphite and Acrylics on Paper

Did this piece tonight. I was planning to do a background, but kept going. May crop and keep or add more to it.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Closer view of green and burgundy Indian envelopes

Here is a larger image of the lovely green and burgundy Indian wedding envelopes. They came to me with the gold lettering and lines already stamped/embossed on them. The shimmery envelopes were nib-eaters due to the ripply texture, but were otherwise easy to letter on - especially since they already had lines. I only had to fudge it for 4 line addresses. They are so different from my usual fare, that I enjoyed working with them.
(Click on image to see it larger - though slightly out of focus.)

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Graphite is My Friend

A little pencil play today. Had to take a mini break from teeny tiny placecards.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Latest Wedding - Rook

This is a sample of my latest wedding using Rook, a style I hadn't used in years. It also used a mixed grey ink. They have been altered for privacy.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Art Book Reviews

The last few reviews are copied from my letterlady blog. I'm adding one new review to the top - just to keep them all together. If you read the earlier ones, you can skip the ones after the first one here...DRAWING LAB - 52 Creative Exercises to Make Drawing Fun by Carla Sonheim.

I reluctantly bought this book. I draw. I felt it would be too 'beginner' for me. Yet, it was garnering praise from many sources and who am I to ignore it when others like it so well? I bought the book. I have been too busy to give it more than a cursory look until today at lunch. I read several pages and skimmed through the remaining chapters. It was a good purchase. Besides introducing new exercises to try, it reminded me of old ones. It introduced foolishness to the mix. It made drawing playful and took away the mystery. It won't turn anyone into an artist overnight, but it will convince you that it's not rocket science and it can be fun just for the sake of fun. Sonheim's childlike drawings are deceptively simple. Some remind me of Brian Andreas drawings...scribbles almost. The exercises she proscribes are simple and imaginative. She takes the fear out of the idea of drawing. I will be trying some of them. Some I have tried before. I recommend the book to anyone who wants to draw but thinks they can't. Yes, you can!

Bridging Time and Space (essays on layered art) is a beautiful book. It is full of good information and inspiring images. It is much more discussion than instruction, but experienced collage artists will appreciate the essays and visuals. I have taught collage workshops and own several collage books. This one is probably my favorite. More fine art than craft, the collage examples in this book are varied in technique. It was produced by the society of layerists, so naturally layering is a prominent factor. Sometimes it is paint that is layered, sometimes paper, sometimes it is more assemblage and sometimes it may seem to be more layered thoughts than any obvious layering of media. Although this book was published in 1998, I was fortunate to find a copy in 2001. If you can find one, you won't be disappointed. (This one is out of print and rare to find - usually very expensive if you do.)

This review is on Creative Paint Workshop for Mixed-Media Artists: Experimental Techniques for Composition, Layering, Texture, Imagery, and Encaustic
I first discovered Ann Baldwin many years ago when surfing the net in search of collage examples for a mixed media collage class I was teaching. At that time she was doing collages with authors as the main focus. She's branched out since then, and I like the direction she's taken. A few years ago I bought her video, "Telling Stories with Collage & Paint." It's an excellent resource, so when I saw she had written this book, I made sure to buy it. It has many new examples of her work, and includes chapters on abstract design, materials, composition, combining words with paint - something I love to do as a calligrapher, using digital photographs and even encaustic painting. Ann is an excellent instructor and doesn't leave gaping holes in the process as many authors of how-to books tend to do. I'm looking forward to exploring this book more thoroughly, but I've already seen enough to convince me of its worth.

The Chinese Brush Painting Bible: Over 200 Motifs with Step-By-Step Illustrated Instructions
I have a few Chinese painting books, but I believe this will be my favorite. It's a small format, but has 256 little pages full of nice images and good directions. In the early pages, there is some history, some discussion of materials and technique, with direction for making various strokes. The bulk of the book is full of examples of many Chinese motifs. It is not 'how to paint a Chinese painting', but more on how to paint small motifs including animals, flowers, insects, trees, berries and more.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Some old work I transferred from my other blog

A sampling of various pieces of calligraphy I've done in the past. Check back periodically for new uploads. Also see for more.

Here's a Franz Kafka quote lettered in pressurized graphite pencil.

A practice quote.

I did this one as a gift last Christmas.

A Mother Teresa quote.

A letterhead I created.

A contemporary uncial style.

This was a gift for a friend. The Credo "I believe" in her native language.

A wedding invitation that was fun to do. Two were totally hand-lettered, as was the original for the remaining ones whose recipients' names were individually scribed on them. Following this is the monogram I designed for the couple.

Goethe quote on a digitally altered background.

An invitation and the envelopes I lettered for a lovely bride.

Tiffany envelopes

I was surprised to open the Fed Ex package from my current wedding assignment. Inside were two lovely Tiffany boxes - that unmistakable aqua blue was exciting to see. I didn't know Tiffany did stationery. Yes, I live under a rock.

I'm not sure how well they take ink because I'm using a specially blended gray ink and it's a bit difficult to work with. Here are two photos - just because I like the boxes so much, and because I think the gray is looking pretty good.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mixed grey ink on Tiffany envelopes

I'm not sure if I can 'blame' the envelopes - I think it's mostly the ink mixture - but I'm finding these envelopes very slow going. First, I had to mix ink (I tried to use inks instead of gouache because I didn't think I'd need much.) I had ordered a special bottle of ink and thought I'd use that for the bulk of these. The ink did not come in, so I canceled the order. In addition, to get the right color I mixed up more than I'd expected to need. (Dr. Martin's white, Moon Palace black and for a touch of brown, walnut ink.) So - I have a lot of ink, it's the right color and it works passably well. Another issue is the letter style. It's not a true calligraphy style. It is a font - Rook. I thought I hated it, but it's actually looking much more graceful than I'd expected. And what a luxury! These envelopes are a generous size so the addresses look uncrowded, adding to the gracefulness. I don't think a layman could see how I've struggled with the ink and the 'font'. Lots of re-stroking has been required, but I like them. I have a lot to do in a short time. I will be sidelined for a medical procedure for two days, and I babysat for a few hours today. Hurry, hurry! They will be done on time, but it will be nose-to-the-grindstone when I am able.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

A bit of recent work

These are a couple of drawings I did when I needed to feel creative. Just practice pieces using pressure/release lettering with pencil.

Another pressure/release with pencil exercise. I love doing these letters and plan to incorporate them into a large canvas piece as soon as I have time to play.

Play I did one Sunday afternoon this summer with my beautiful niece Celeste. It was fun suggesting things for her to try as she created her very first painting on canvas. It's very large, and she did a fantastic job!