Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hubby's Jack-O-Lantern

Happy Hallowe'en!

Fabriano Sketchbook, 8.5" x 11"
Parallel Pen 3.8mm
Yes it is true, I cannot stop.


Parallel Pen 3.8mm
Hallowe'en seems like a perfect day to practice the gothic hand, doesn't it?  We learned it the other evening at the Westcoast Calligraphy Society meeting.  This is my first page of gothic ever - still a little wobbly LOL.  I thought it would be difficult, but it is actually one of the easier hands to learn.  I'll keep practicing.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: Hand-Lettering for Everyone

I have been following the recent trend in hand-lettering, and was thrilled to receive a review copy of Hand-Lettering for Everyone:  A Creative Workbook, by Cristina Vanko.  It is published by Perigee/Penguin Random House, and retails for $15.95 in the US and $20.95 in Canada.
I enjoyed the workbook format of the book a lot, leaving me space on every page to practice.  I found that I practiced what I was learning more than I otherwise would have, and therefore learned more.
There are lots of other things to like about this book:
  • the history of lettering was approachable
  • traditional and new grids or layouts for lettering
  • lots and lots of samples - of letter styles, layouts, and embellishments for your lettering
  • fun applications for lettering - envelopes, stamp carving, lettering with objects, business cards, brush lettering, and many more
  • a well-described process for lettering, from inspiration through to execution
There are a few things that could be improved about this book, however.  The paper is lovely and smooth, but not thick enough for felt pens or ink.  I experienced some minor bleed-through and I could see the practice through the page.  Unless you can ignore this (which I did), the workbook is suitable only for pencil.
The entire book is in black and white.  This is adequate for some of the material, but it would be a better source of ongoing inspiration if all of those fun applications were in colour.  I'll definitely be subscribing to Cristina's Tumblr feed for that.
There are no page numbers, and therefore, the book has no index or usable table of contents.  The author covers such a lot of material that although it is designed as a workbook, I'd like to actually use it as a reference book.  However, without an index it will be difficult to find the gems that I know are hidden there. 
I suspect that these drawbacks are directly related to the price at which this book is being offered.  There is such a lot of good content in this book that the price is a bargain.  It is a shame about the shortcomings, though.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Nature is Gentle

Alcohol Markers on acrylic

Exciting New Discovery

Markers on Acrylic
I have just discovered that I can use markers of all kinds to draw and colour on top of acrylic paint.  I must thank the artist at the teenytinytablestudio for this discovery.  I have followed this blog for years and love the ingenious use of art materials as well as the drawing.  When I read the fine print recently, I noticed that the artist had used markers to draw on gelli prints.  This, of course, got me thinking and experimenting immediately.  These are regular kids markers on the mushroom, but I used a paint pen for the black and the white.  For information about the journal I used (because I know you must be as journal-crazy as I am), you can find it here.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Fall Funghi

Spring is definitely my favorite time of year.  I love to walk around my neighbourhood and see all of the tender new growth sprouting up.  Each day it is something new!
But autumn also has new growth.  This year I am captivated by mushrooms sprouting up amongst the fallen leaves.  Here is just a small sample of the pictures I have taken.  

These specimens are starting to show up in my art too....

Sunday, October 25, 2015


Gelli Arts has come out with some sets of small gelli plates.  Ooooh, I was so tempted.  But I keep telling myself, "NO MORE SHOPPING!".  "Could I do this another way?" I asked myself.  "These look awfully like some old foam stamps I have somewhere.  And if I used stamps, I wouldn't have to use acrylic paint.  I could use any kind of paint or ink.  Hmmmmm."
A trip to the basement.  Rifle through the old sets of Making Memories foam stamps I bought at a craft store bankruptcy sale.
Voila.  Some ATC backgrounds.  Now what?

Chalk Ink

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Gelli Printing on Scraps

Print on Scrapbook Paper
What do you get when you combine a box full of scrap paper and a gelli plate?  Artist Trading Cards.

Print on Church Bulletin


Print on Security Envelope
As you can tell, I am determined to use up my paper stash.  I'll be doing more of this for sure.

Friday, October 23, 2015

A Pattern With Words

Fabriano Sketchbook
8.5" x 11"
After making some patterned paper, I thought I'd try the next one in my sketchbook.  Here, I used my love of letters to make a pattern with an art theme!

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Art of Whimsical Lettering

Joanne Sharpe has a new book club, to go with her book "The Art of Whimsical Lettering".  Her videos are always so inspiring!  This is my first lesson.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Patterned Paper

 Uni-ball Vision pen on Gouache
I had a stab at making my own patterned paper.  The idea was to use it for collage elements.

Pencil Crayon on Acrylic Ink and Watercolor
I used to buy patterned paper, and loved it so much that I couldn't bear to cut into it.  Surprise, surprise, I can't bear to cut into this either.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Exciting Discoveries

While researching the English Hawthorn, I discovered a new tree native to Vancouver - the Black Hawthorn.  The Hawthorns are another member of the Rose family (remember the apple and cherry).  The author of the Nature Guide I was using thinks that she left it off because it often presents as a bush rather than a tree.
The Ginkgo Balboa tree is fascinating because of its age.  Flowering plants (including most deciduous trees) are the most evolved plant families of the plant kingdom.  Mosses and other nonvascular spores are the least evolved.  Between nonvascular spores and flowering plants, we find vascular spores and naked seed plants.  Included in the naked seeds category is the conifer division and the single ginkgo tree, the only surviving species of the Ginkgophyta division.  All other species in the division are now extinct.  The Ginkgo tree is often called a "living fossil".

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Going Smaller, With Lighter and Brighter Colours

I really caught the gelli printing bug last week.  In this iteration, I wanted to use some lighter and brighter colours.  I was also experimenting with stencils and masks.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Botanical Gelli Prints

Last week I experimented with some larger botanical gelli prints.  These might become book covers, and they might have a bit of stamping or writing added.  Not sure yet.  Ideas are still "gelling", pardon the pun.  Here's a few more:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Colouring Books Are All the Rage

Pan Pastel

Colouring books have been gaining popularity with adults, who want to access the calm that comes from brushing colour across a page.  I decided to create my own pages from the stacks of calligraphy practice sheets that I couldn't bear to throw away.

Pencil Crayon

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Botanical Gelli Prints

Fabriano Sketchbook 8.5" x 11"

I've been experimenting with botanical prints made with my Gelli Plates lately.  Here I've added them to a journal page.  

Ash and elm trees are very common in Vancouver, although they are not native.  I think that I will focus on learning about the plant families that I commonly see here for now.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Using the Right Tool

Canson Art Book, 9" x 12"
Watercolor with a flat brush

Calligraphers use broad edge pens to produce wonderful "thicks and thins" in writing, taking advantage of the fact that the pen makes a broad stroke when moving down, and a thin stroke when moving up.   (Joanne Sharpe, for example, says "let the pen tool do the work for you", in her course "Letter Love".)  Not surprisingly, calligraphers also use flat wash brushes in ingenious ways with watercolor, not only to write in the same way, but also to draw.  

In the meeting last week at the Westcoast Calligraphy Society, a talented artist taught us how to use a flat brush and watercolor to make Christmas cards.  It wasn't the first time that I have learned some of these strokes, but the application to a pine cone struck me as particularly ingenious.  Not too long ago, I spent 1/2 an hour meticulously drawing a pine cone in pen.  These took 5 minutes! 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Learning 100 Plant Families?

Fabriano Sketchbook
8.5" x 11"
Pencil Crayon

You will see on this journal page that I am wrestling with the challenge of learning all 100 Plant Families.  Doubting my ability to stick with it.  Now that I've documented (still not quite internalized) the 7 that account for 45,000 species, do I want to do the rest?  Am I that interested?  If so, how might I proceed?

Those are the questions I've been wrestling with.  I think I'm homing in on an answer.  Stay tuned....

Field Work

Yesterday I was out learning about ash trees.  The photos I took are so much better than any art I could make LOL.  Nature is the ultimate artist!