Years ago I did several jobs for a client whose life story unfolded by way of a series of calligraphic pieces he commissioned me to do. First: a written song with which to woo a love interest. Then, a poem to honor their marriage. Then, a poem commemorating their firstborn child, his daughter. Some years later, a poem to help him through the pain of their divorce. A few years later, I gave the daughter a private calligraphy lesson at my dining room table. Following this came another poem to woo another love interest! The most recent assignment from him: a row of musical notes that would be tattooed on his arm. This last project was in 2008, I believe. You can see how the work of calligraphers can take on significance in the lives of our clients.
Fast forward: I have another tattoo design assignment, but not from my longtime client. A woman who has been working her way through numerous life (and death) challenges within her extended family is once again calling upon my skills as a calligrapher to bring power to the word. Her chosen word will be tattooed on her wrist so that at any moment from now to the time she is in her last moments of life on earth, she can look at the word and draw strength and solace from it. And, when she can no longer speak, she plans to raise her wrist in farewell to those who may be present! Below are the choices I wrote out for her last week. They haven't been polished yet; she will select one, and I will do some retouching of the calligraphy to suit the tattoo artist's requirements:
All I have to do is look at the date of my last post to confirm what I knew already: it's been a very full 6 weeks since I have posted anything new! Summer activities are coming to an end, signaling a return to the studio. There are design projects coming up, workshops being discussed, and new technology to learn here.
While I rarely do the bread and butter calligraphy projects that once kept me busy, I do still love to do them for special events for friends or family members. Below you can see some of the namebadges I made for a birthday party held on August 25. The guests were such good sports; all but one of the 105 wore either a bow tie or tiara!
Nothing is rich but the inexhaustible wealth of nature. She shows us only surfaces, but she is a million fathoms deep.
This quote is especially appropriate for the tranquil location of the National Estuarine Research Reserve, of my July 13-14 workshop in quiet Bay View, Washington. 16 students and I gathered there to spend two days recording on journal pages some of the natural features surrounding us. Perfect summer weather, a fine classroom facility, earnest learners and plenty of delicious food (the Skagit Valley, where the Reserve is located, is Berry Central right now) combined to make a successful weekend.
After a brief lunch break, the group walked up the path to a point where we were allowed a landscape overview that included the mound of roses from which came our specimens. The rest of the day was spent developing both the hip painting and the small landscape study that joined it on the page. Lettering skills were practiced, too, with emphasis placed on overall page design.
On Sunday, the assignment for the day's work was given early on: five specific journal items were to be added to the journal on one or two pages. The examples below show the variety of choices: something from the aquarium, a detail drawing of a chosen specimen, a decorated versal letter, a small landscape, and a small map. But prior to starting our artwork for the day, most of us moved through the plentiful array of breakfast foods (shouldn't all serious work days begin with such a repast?) arranged on the buffet table:
To all who participated in this weekend of learning, sharing, and the expanding of perception, I thank you for the chance to spend two days together and I applaud the excellent work you did. Continue to practice, practice. Special thanks go to the Padilla Bay Foundation administrator Kay Reinhardt. Thank you Libby, Anne, Mary, Nancy and Marilyn for your positive support and help in set-up, take-down, and seeing that all of our needs were met.
The Artful Map workshop I taught last weekend at the North Cascades Institute's Environmental Learning Center began simply enough. Each participant received a packet of papers and reference materials plus two different pens to use. Many of the 14 did not consider themselves to be artists or designers, which made all the more bold their trust in the focused creative process into which they were entering. (Please click on an images for larger views.)
A few of the students arrived with an idea of a place of personal significance they wanted to map and brought some materials to refer to. All the students needed to arrive at a starting place for their maps after just 4 hours in the classroom. Then, the designing began. With most maps carrying a lot of detail including images and text, icons and roadways and paths, time was of the essence in the design and execution process. When you look at the work that was done in this class (and during evening hours for some), It's hard to believe that some of the map designers literally had never made anything like this before. Below you can see the early stages of two maps that illustrate the design process, and the finished pieces are below those.
To all of my students: You went above and beyond, and it was a pleasure to join you on your mapmaking journeys.
Shelley Spalding worked intensively on her map, the inked beginnings of which you see on the left. Shelley had to leave before class on the last day, so I didn't have a chance to take a photo of her nearly-finished map. I hope to receive a photo of it from her.
Thank you for your interest!
Perhaps you have arrived here by searching for The North Cascades Institute, or it's superb Environmental Learning Center up at Diablo Lake in the North Cascades mountains of Washington State. Before deciding never to go there because of the story told in the map below, I hasten to assure you that in all the years I've taught at that magnificent place, I've never received a single mosquito bite. Further, I was told that it's highly unusual for there to be mosquitos there at all in September (the winds through the gorge sweep them away), so the incident commemmorated in my map is not likely to happen again in September, at least. Insect repellent is always on the list of things to pack because the ELC is, after all, at the edge of a thriving wilderness, and those are places that serve all manner of living beings. On that note:
When I was 12 years old and living in Casablanca, Morocco, I was invited to go to our French neighbors' summer home near Carcasonne, France. Prone to homesickness to begin with, I soon turned to a small, lined notebook* I had brought to make notes about the long drive as a way to keep my mind off my trepidation about leaving home.Thus began a lifelong habit of creating travel journals. Here is my most recent page from a fun weekend exploration of an historic area just a few hours from Seattle:
What could provide better material for a nature journal page than a botanical garden? I created this page on my recent trip to Florida. I have already used it as a teaching sampler for a short class I taught in March because it incorporates elements that contribute to a designed page as opposed to a random page of entries. Both approaches are fine when it comes to journaling.
This page includes: a title, a divided layout with one half being a larger sketch, and the other being a group of smaller sketches, a combination of plants, animal, and structures, and a variety of scales. The drawings and the lettering were all done with the same two items: black ink and watercolor. This assures a textural and color harmony throughout the page.
If you would like to study nature journaling with me and a small group of enthusiastic nature-lovers, please consider coming to the small community of Bay View, Washington, for a July 13 & 14 nature journaling workshop. There are 3 spots left. Please click here for more information.
While searching through file folders last week, my eye landed on one that is 20 years old. I pulled it out and opened it. As always, seeing work I did long ago stirs up various emotions. In this case, I time-traveled to the days before we all had the Adobe Creative Suite on our computers; it was a time for most graphic artists (but not all) to use French curves, technical pens, and white-out to create crisp logos by hand. I looked at the original artwork for the logo below, and had to admire how steady my hand was, back in 1993! Also, I was pleased to realize that I still like my design. This logo was done for a designer/carpenter whose business name was Creative Interiors. Nowadays, this design would not be difficult to create in Illustrator, a design program utilizing vectors.