Thursday, April 21, 2016

Pen Points

Being a calligrapher, I'm always examining hand lettered pieces and trying out new letter forms.  If you have the same obsession, you know that Copperplate calligraphy has become quite popular.  There are all sorts of samples on Pinterest of hand lettered envelopes and invites.  It appears to be the current 'thing' to have your wedding invites mailed in individually hand-lettered envelopes.  (I can't even imagine what that adds to the already thru-the-roof expense of getting married.)  But the style caught my attention and I decided to try my hand at it - literally.

This thick and thin letter style is done with a pointed dip-pen nib.  I had some of these from years ago so I loaded one up with ink and gave it a go.  By the time I was done with my initial efforts, I had tried every nib I own, every paper ever produced and every crusty jar of ink in my somewhat aged stash - with extremely unsatisfactory results.  So I went back to the book and read again and mumbled to myself "Is this really possible?!?!"  But I didn't give up.  I called up my boyfriend, Dick Blick, checked out his supply of nibs and ordered a few more recommended options.  While waiting for my boyfriend to deliver, I watched some YouTube video demonstrations of the Copperplate technique.  No joke - the presenter really was accomplishing those beautiful thicks and thins with that pointed pen! 

The new nibs arrived and I tried again.  I loaded the largest of the nibs in my pen holder and tried various calligraphy inks and papers.  The thicks and thins were improving but what to do about all of that ink feathering (spreading).  It would look okay when first completed and then later as it dried the ink would spread out its feathery tendrils.  Eeeeek!  My studio was a mess with papers and attempts everywhere.  I read the next chapter of the book.  It said that as one improved their skills they could attempt loading their pen with watercolor, watercolor being a little trickier to use than inks.  What the heck - it couldn't be any worse than my other attempts.  So I picked up the only nib I hadn't tried yet (because the reviews said to save it for more advanced skill levels, which I definitely hadn't reached yet) stuck it in a holder, loaded it with watercolor and voila - good flow, defined thicks and thins, no feathering, everything my little lettering heart desired.

So, I guess, the moral of the story is don't give up.  Not that I usually do.  I am too stubborn for that!  The sample you see here is just a practice and no where close to as polished as I hope to become.  But it has only been a week.  So I'm good with my progress and will continue to practice each day.  Or at least until my next obsession takes hold...

Joy and blessings,

Items I used:

Various tube watercolors
The book 'Modern Calligraphy' by Molly Suber Thorpe (This has excellent letter examples and project info.)
YouTube demos by Hamid Reza Ebrahimi (This guy can letter!)
Brause Extra-fine point nib 66EF (This nib looks really small but holds enough watercolor to complete several words before reloading. LOVE it.)
Strathmore Mixed Media paper - 400 series, vellum finish  (Hot press watercolor paper works well, too.  Also tried Canson XL watercolor paper and it worked good but the nib can drag a bit on the rough surface.  Try using the smooth back.)

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Tweet Sentiments

Been gone a couple of days having a lovely visit with my sister-in-law in Missouri.  I took some painting supplies along and spent part of a rainy Sunday morning painting this little guy.  That is one of the things I love about watercolors - it is so easy to pack a portable palette, a brush and a few pieces of watercolor paper for a little impromptu practice.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, April 8, 2016

Heaven on Earth

Is it Heaven - no, it's Iowa...

This fun little watercolor is one I did last year while taking another of Danielle Donaldson's classes - 'Creative Girl - The Land of Light and Shadows'.  We own two acreages that are side by side and that my youngest son refers to as the 'compound'.  Sounds a little sinister, like we are recruiting converts.  :)  I prefer to view it this way - our little slice of heaven.  I really do enjoy it out here and I guess to the outside observer it would appear that I do isolate myself a bit.  To me, it is more like absorbing the peace and tranquility the birds and plants can offer if we just stop long enough to take it in.

Enjoy the view.  Joy and blessings,

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Another little lettering practice done with Zig Brushables markers on Canson XL watercolor paper.  I purchased the paper for watercolor practice but do not like it for watercolor at all.  It was going in to the Goodwill bag when I discovered that it works very well with the markers.  Has just the right surface and tooth so I will use it for some much needed lettering exercise. 

I haven't actually seen any violets blooming yet, but I am sure they will be here soon.  My poor asparagus started out of the ground a couple of weeks ago but then changed its mind since the weather has turned so cold again.  Warm weather is just around the corner, though, and then we will have nothing to complain about - except the weeds and dandelions and flies...  :)

Joy and blessings,

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Party Animal

Inspired by Danielle Donaldson's 'All Creatures' class.
This is just an itty-bitty little guy I painted on the corner scrap of a piece of watercolor paper.  I ordered some new tubes of Sennelier watercolors from Dick Blick and they arrived yesterday, so I had to try out a couple of the colors.  Opera Pink and Phthalo Turquoise along with some Da Vinci Quinacridone Gold.  He is only about 3" tall but he packs a lot of personality in a small space - don't you think?  :)

Joy and blessings,

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Bunny Tales

Monday's little practice critter.  I would love to sit and paint his friends but they will have to come to life some other day.  Now back to work I must get...

Joy and blessings,

Monday, April 4, 2016

Sunday Satisfaction

It was such a lovely warm day today that I took my art supplies out to the porch, opened the windows and sat and painted.  Such a pleasant way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

This little guy was inspired by Danielle Donaldson's 'All Creatives' class.  Bunnie's, dogs, ellie's and bears - oh my...  Watercolor and pencil on Arches watercolor paper.

Joy and blessings,


Sunday, April 3, 2016

Happy Toes

Just a fun little watercolor and ink practice from Junelle Jacobsen's Traveling Brightly class.  This was done on Strathmore mixed media paper.  So fun to do!  That bottom one makes me wish I could go wading in a creek somewhere.  A little cold for that today, though.  I do so love denim crop pants and bare feet with the sun shining warm on the backs of my legs.  Oh - and painted toenails.  Red.  Have a lovely Sunday!

Joy and blessings,

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Bright and Happy

I've been hesitant to post my lettering practice because I wasn't sure anyone would find it very interesting.  But surprisingly enough, those are some of the pages that get the most hits.  I love to look at hand lettered words and phrases and I guess I must not be the only 'font freak' out there.  So here goes, two more examples of my brush lettering and simple ways to embellish them.

Joy and blessings,

Friday, April 1, 2016

April Greetings

A little art appropriate for the new month.  I did this last spring with ink, watercolor markers and pan pastels.  We had some nice thunderstorms a couple of nights ago and now the grass is so green.  Almost looks like it might need mowing soon.  Or at least it would if it hadn't turned cold the next day.  Ah, the fickleness of Spring.  But the crocuses, jonquils and baby irises are blooming and the bushes are budding, so all is good.  Spring - I love it!

Joy and blessings,