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December 2008

November 2008

The Pen Unleashed: Romping Letterforms

I think this is true: many calligraphers are drawn to the craft because they love structure, detail, and disciplined letterforms. But given a sudden lapse in conformity, calligraphers can cut loose from all this and let the pen do the walking. Such a lapse happened to me recently, resulting in the composition below.  The words are quoted from Minnie Aumonier, the pen used was a Speedball C-2, with the color added digitally after the unretouched calligraphy was scanned into PhotoShop:
BlogWhentheWorld copy

The Sketchbook Style: From Journals to Illustration Assignments

I have kept travel sketchbooks since the summer after I turned 12. That summer, to help stave off homesickness, I kept my first little journal while traveling with our French neighbors from Casablanca to their villa near Carcasonne in southern France. Recording my thoughts and the passing sights in a tiny spiral notebook gave me a feeling of connectedness I needed then, as a jeunne fille traveling without my family. I continue to keep sketchbooks when I travel today. 

A few years ago it dawned on me that my "sketchbook style" of drawing and painting might be of interest to my clients as an expressive illustration style. Because of its spontaneous quality, it has an appeal. Here I am posting two pages from my recent sketchbooks made while traveling in China (click on the photos for large versions of the pages). Below them you will see a greeting card designed for Papyrus, where the handwriting is much more legible because I was doing it in my studio and not while bumping along the roads on a tour bus or swaying on the deck of a river boat!

These pages feature the many types of small boats seen on the rivers of China and passing images from the farmlands. The Papyrus card below features a series of romantic images applied to a Valentine's Day card. A photo of the buyer's choice is to be placed in the cut-out window.


Logotypes Online


Do any of these logos look familiar to you?  They are all my work, in the elemental black & white form, before being applied to their ultimate products. To see how these logotypes are currently in use, please visit my new portfolio page by clicking on this link: Logotypes with Visibility (this page link is also located to the upper left of here under Design and Teaching). Once open, the page will show the individual logos with a link next to each logo on the page. Click on these to go directly to the sites to see how the logos are used effectively by companies and organizations.

Working with clients to create logos is one of my very favorite professional activities. The collaborative process is something I'm always eager to engage in. I never run out of ink, nor ideas. For estimates or printed sample booklets of my lettering, please contact me.

A Marzipan Chicken & Farm Harvest Cake


After featuring real and marzipan mushrooms in my previous post, there was keen interest in my making of the marzipan fruits and vegetables for my son and daughter-in-law's wedding cake. Happy images are still swirling about my mind (the wedding was Saturday!), while the marzipan was mostly eaten up by admiring wedding guests.

Here's a little tutorial for those who are interested in my techniques, basic though they may be. In the top photo, you see the three colors I used to create the marzipan version of Lucky, Eli and Amy's mascot hen. Plain marzipan is colored by adding drops of food color to a flattened ball of the natural off-white candy and kneaded by hand. (Use disposable gloves to protect from the darker colors.)  A silicon baking sheet (Sil-Pat) is a good nonstick surface to use for forming the shapes.

In the second photo, I've roughly shaped a sitting hen, applying the more orange clay around the neck and breast of Lucky.

In the third photo, I've added Lucky's head, and have shaped her body in a more life-like, feathery way. The marzipan sticks well to itself, so you can build and model to your sculptural content.

In the bottom photo, you see that I added tiny bits of licorice for eyes, and I applied some straight red food color to enhance Lucky's comb and wattle. I turned her head to make her look more lifelike. Until it air dries for a couple of hours, the marzipan is soft and malleable.

Tips for coloring some of the vegetables and fruits as shown in the photo below:

Pears: mold pears (mine are about 1" high) in yellow marzipan. Dilute one drop red food color with a tablespoon of water. With a watercolor brush, lightly paint a pale pink tone along one side of each pear. Cut a licorice stem, inserting it after first poking a toothpick into the stem end of the pear. Cut a small leaf shape with a sharp knife, lightly press tip into the stem recession.

Potatoes: use natural marzipan, make potato-like impressions with a toothpick, then dust with cocoa powder after forming.

Wood: knead unsweetened cocoa powder into natural marzipan, adding more to darken the color.

Artichokes: darken green marzipan with some purple (useful for grapes), "marbling" it into the green. Use tiny aspic cutters to create artichoke leaves, pressing layers of them onto a small starter-ball of marzipan.

FinishedCakeHere you see the cake with all of its marzipan placed upon its layers. Below is a close-up of the top layer, where Lucky is holding court while being surrounded by the harvest of fruits and vegetables. The split-rail fence was fortified by molding the marzipan around chocolate Pocky sticks, and allowing the sticks to extend from the bottom of the fence posts so that they could be pressed into the cake.

The tiny baskets were molded from white chocolate.

(Click on photos for enlargements.)

May Eli's and Amy's lives together be long, sweet and fruitful. Cheers!