Book arts, hand lettering, sketching

Book arts, hand lettering, sketching

Sunday, December 2, 2018

I take great joy in creating my holiday cards and writing beautiful letters on the envelopes. I used the  Neuland alphabet on the holiday card and wrote it with Zig markers.

The tools for the lettering on the envelopes are: an ink cage reservoir nib which holds large amounts of ink, a treasured and well-used oblique nib holder, the Hourglass Adjustable Oblique, and Higgins Eternal Ink. This pen holder is an expensive alternative to the plastic varieties. I have found it to be the most comfortable for my hand when writing for long periods of time. The writing styles above in the envelopes are Italic on the left and a Modern Uncial alphabet developed by Jill Quillian. The thick and thin letter strokes of each style make it so beautiful to write.

Choosing brown paper for the cards was problematic. The ink bleeds and the sharp pen nib catches on the fibers. Next time I will choose a smoother surfaced card!  Here is a link on Lindsey Bugbee's website of ways to handle paper that bleeds.

I usually free hand lettering on envelopes without the use of a light box or guidelines. But it was a fun addition to line the envelopes with red colored pencil lines.

Friday, November 23, 2018

These stamps are made from thin foam sheets. The letters are cut out in reverse on foam sheets, then glued to foam core board and cut out. Rubber stamp pads were used to print the letters. This particular alphabet is called Neuland.


Place a piece of tracing paper over the alphabet you want to make into stamps. Trace each letter with a pencil. Take a foam sheet (I used a yellow sheet) and place your traced alphabet face down on a foam sheet with the pencil outlines facing the foam sheet. Rub a pencil over the tracing paper (you are rubbing the back of the tracing paper.) Lift the tracing paper off the foam sheet and you'll see that the outlined letters have transferred to the foam. Most of the letters will look backwards and that is correct. Cut out the letters with a pointed mat knife. Make sure you place the letters aside face down as you cut them. Do not place them face up or when you do the following step, gluing them to the foam core backing, your letters will print incorrectly! Notice the printed letter 'c' in the top quote. I had to re-do that letter! Use a glue stick to glue the letters to a foam core board. Remember most of the letters will look backwards when you glue them and that's okay. (Note the letter stamps above F, L, N, P, R, U, Y and Z in the left side of the photo.) Let the glue dry and cut out the foam core around the letter. The foam core board gives you something to grip when printing the letter. 

Supply list - These items can be found in your local hobby store.

Mat knife with fresh blades
Thin foam sheets - usually found in the children's hobby section
Foam core board - in the art supply section
Tracing paper
Glue stick
Rubber stamp pads
Paper to print on

A copy of the alphabet for your stamps

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Bird Sketchbook

     My summer project was to improve my bird sketching skills. I drew a small sketch almost everyday in a Moleskine journal. The paper was thin and didn't take well to watercolor as you'll see in the page warping. But the other goal was to get away from having the sketches be too precious and just practice drawing. Keeping the project manageable in this kind of approach worked well. 

     I photographed birds and drew them; studied John Muir Laws videos and his books on bird drawing and kept one idea in mind before starting a drawing: it could have been layout, attention to shadows, shapes, angles, layers of feathers, beaks, talons, etc. It helped simplify learning new ways to see and practice what I was learning. I kept faith that by the end of a few months I would see improvement. I now have a small 5"X7" crinkly sketchbook that brings back memories of all I saw this summer and the beautiful habitats I visited. When I pick up a pencil to draw I feel a certain imprint in how I hold the pencil, the light touch I've developed, a deeper appreciation of lights and darks to bring the image forward, and a new awareness of the process my mind goes through to start recording those shapes. 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Color charts.  

I paint using a small Schmincke metal travel palette. I ordered the blank palette then filled it with Winsor and Newton half pan watercolors. I chose this particular palette because it is small and has several areas for mixing colors. I found that over the years the plastic palettes yellow and turn brittle. The colors from left to right starting with the top row. Turquoise, Ultra Marine Blue, Paynes Grey, Terre Verte, Sap Green, Cadmium Red Deep, Alizarin Crimson, Cerulean Blue, Naples Yellow, Cadmium Yellow, Naples Deep, Quinacridone Gold, Burnt Siena, and Raw Umber. 

Since I recently revised the colors, I decided to make color charts on 4 1/2" X 5 1/2" paper. I use fourteen colors so there are fourteen charts, one for each color. (Example: I take one color, then mix it with the other 13 colors, one at a time, to see the variety of colors possible. This is a great way to learn about color!) The blue brush in the photo is a large size Pentel water brush. Large refers to the size of the brush tip. It is filled with distilled water. This eliminates having to carry a water jar. 

Other items I carry in my portable art pouch are: a 6", 45 degree transparent triangle for drawing lines or  boxes; two mechanical pencils - one with .7 leads for the initial drawing, and another .5 mechanical pencil but I replaced those leads with 2B leads for the final drawing and for great dark lines; #3 X-acto clips also known as bull clips to hold pages flat; a retractable white eraser (Staedtler or other brand); a Sanford Design Ebony Jet Black Extra Smooth pencil (makes great thick, expressive dark lines); and paper towels.

Some of the charts I've already painted. 

Testing layouts and colors for a street scene. This is probably the third and fourth version of this painting! These study drawings are small, 3"x4" each.  When I paint on large pads/notebooks, I use different brushes: a set of Escoda brushes which hold a lot paint and are round; or a different set of brushes to fill in large areas especially for buildings: a flat 3/4" brush, a number 10 round, and 1/2" and 3/4" angled brushes.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

I'm one of the featured artists in the current summer 2018 issue of Pages magazine, a publication of Cloth Paper Scissors. My Italy journal is the focus of the article with instructions on how to make the paper folded cover. The magazine is available at Barnes and Noble bookstores. 

Sunday, July 1, 2018

"Dwell as near as possible to the channel in which your life flows." Henry David Thoreau

Summer is here and observing birds started in March. I photograph for several months and have a backlog of images to draw from. Going out nearly everyday and just observing helps develop a keen eye and a delight in seeing the variety of behaviors in all the animals. Not to mention the calming experience of being outdoors and around the trees, plants, plains, and ponds. 

Below are pages from my notebooks where I've learned about drawing birds. Around this time of year I return to books about drawing birds by John Muir Laws and John Busby. I also learn from watching John Muir Laws YouTube videos of study sessions and instruction. He is a fine teacher and artist helping you to understand not only drawing birds but overall nature drawing and journaling. He breaks down the information and really inspires you to go out and try these techniques. 

Here is a link to his website:

I also greatly enjoy the books and art of nature artists Hannah Hinchman and Cathy Johnson. 

Below, I'm working from drawings of John Muir Laws to understand the basic structure and then further simplifying the structure to create more accurate looking sketches without too much detail. The drawings on the right in the two following photos are John Muir Laws and my studies are on the left. I have a habit of photographing my work in progress and/or holding it up to a mirror. I find in both processes that I can easily identify the areas I want to improve.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

     I practice lettering everyday varying the tools. Sometimes I use calligraphy pen nibs - chiseled point such as a Brause, or Speedball, pointed pen nibs, or markers, or pencil to draw monoline letters, pressure sensitive letters, or more structured, architectural letters. Below are some pencil examples. These are not finished pieces but daily practice and experimentation. You may notice that the paper is thin. I'm working in 7 1/2"X 9" notebooks (graph paper, lined paper, or unlined paper such as the moleskin paper below). If you practice lettering for ten minutes at night you will notice a difference in your handwriting the next day. 

     I've studied lettering for forty years on my own and with national and international calligraphers through workshops at local calligraphy guilds and at the annual calligraphy conference. This on-going passion in lettering started when I was a child fascinated by the shapes, rhythms and patterns of letters and eventually found its way into more formal training. Once I learned several traditional hands (Italic, Roman, Foundational, Uncial, Versals) then I expanded my learning, and continue to do so, with other styles such as Neuland, Uncial variations, Weaver Writing, Dancing Capitals, Casual Capitals, Modern Versals and the list goes on. There is so much to learn and much fun in experimentation. Calligraphy is not limited to one style! 

     I use my lettering all the time in hand calligraphed envelopes, cards, handmade books, gifts, calligraphed banners, etc. It's a joy to add beauty to this world. My friends and family have a treasure trove of these gifts. Some have even collaged them into their own work. They take on a life of their own and keep the gift going. 

     In older posts on the this website you'll find drawings. The translation of shapes, patterns, and the quality of line also inform that art. There always was music in my family as I was growing up. Music (pattern, rhythm, nuance) again appear as I'm learning now to play classical guitar. 

Look, take time to really see, and you'll find a world of beauty all around you. 

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Decorated Versals. A loose and modern exploration of Versals. Great for cards.
Draw the basic shapes and then have fun creating shapes, colors and textures within the letter.