Sunday, January 20, 2013

Mistaken Identity

It was a case of mistaken identity. I was working in my studio and opened the lid of the pill container filled with mixed black gouache. Finding it, as usual, too thick to use, I picked up my distilled water bottle to add a few drops. Reminder to self - make sure that what you think you pick up is actually what you pick up!

Two very similar bottles at my fingers. Two very dissimilar contents.

My black gouache mixture became very sanitary - and quite unusable - with one squeeze of the wrong bottle. It was laughable, but it reminded me of the potential consequences of inattention in my former life as a food microbiologist. Then, pouring from the wrong chemical-filled (and identical) flask could have been truly disastrous. Thankfully, I live to err again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A $50 Place Card

I recently lettered a $50 place card. Yes, it's (mostly) true. When I shared that on Facebook my friends wondered if it had been engraved in gold. Nope. Just script lettering on a shimmery white place card. It was a teaser though. I did not get the $50 - just my normal small fee. The reason it was $50 (and that's only my estimate) is that it had to be sent via FedEx, priority overnight. The bride wanted every guest to have a place card, matching all the others I had done. Somehow one name had been left off the list. Perhaps it was a very late RSVP. I am using a photo of a different card because I don't want the actual person to ever accidentally learn about how much his card cost.

The bride was beautiful, the groom handsome, and everything - down to the last late place card - was perfect! Ahhhh!

Friday, January 4, 2013

My friend Doris Sisk

My friend Doris Sisk was a delight. She was the best person I ever knew, and I have known people from broad walks of life, including ministers from many denominations. She was intelligent and wise, and she was as good as gold - actually much better. I loved her dearly, and our meeting in that calligraphy class long, long ago led to a very close lifelong friendship. We knew each others' children from the time they were toddlers through young adulthood. We knew each others' mothers and spouses and siblings. We knew and delighted in each others' grandchildren. A year and a half ago Doris was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer. I wanted to cry when I heard the diagnosis. For a few months she had blamed bronchitis for her nagging cough and fatigue, but when she finally was admitted to the hospital and got this terrible news, I couldn't believe it was true. There had to be a mistake. As I later told her, I had watched her see first her dad, then her mother and then two very close friends through their transitions from life on earth to death and the hereafter. I fully expected her to be here when my turn came. I knew I wouldn't be as good at it for her as she had been for so many. But when the time came, I tried very hard to do it well. She deserved so much better. I saw her as often as I could, and she used her energy to talk with me for hours at a time. It was a gift to have those loving conversations. Doris went to heaven on December 9th. Why is this eulogy of sorts my first post for 2013 here on my art and lettering blog? I debated about this, but our love of art and our joined artful pursuits makes this the best place for these memories to be shared. There is definitely an artistic connection. And in 2013 I will have an angel friend encouraging me in my artful wanderings. One day last week, through her children at her request, I sorted through her calligraphy supplies and brought boxes home with me. Among them were these works.

I remember when our friend and the instructor whose class we met in, Diana Hutchison, lettered this piece, winning an overall grand prize at the Indiana State Fair many years ago. Diana didn't like duplicating anything, but Doris had a way about her that was hard to refuse...she seldom asked anything of anyone else. Diana made a second similar Enthusiasm piece for Doris.

Another mutual friend of ours was Fr. Eric Lies O.S.B., a fellow calligrapher, at St. Meinrad Seminary in Indiana. Doris acquired two pieces from Fr. Eric, both of which I have inherited. This simple small piece is one of them. The sundial consists of an embossed oval and two lines of text in white and gold with a golden 'arm'. Its simplicity epitomizes Doris's taste and aesthetic. (Fr. Eric died almost a year ago, and I am sure they have reacquainted by now.)
Doris began her artistic pursuits with needlework and moved into calligraphy as I had done. She loved lettering, and added it later to card making and handmade books. But she had also branched out and away from calligraphy, becoming a veritable master at decorative painting and faux finishes. This little wooden tub, embellished with hydrangea blossoms typifies the lovely work she did.

I miss Doris every day. I will miss her for the rest of my life, but I will have her as an angel on my shoulder reminding me to do right, urging me to keep my pens and brushes wet and moving, and to laugh often.