Workshop in Great Falls: Capitals as Text & Tiny Paintings as Graphical Elements

I had a wonderful time last weekend teaching my workshop, “Capitals as Text & Tiny Paintings as Graphical Elements,” to my own state guild. We had a good time studying a fragment of this 5th-century manuscript book written in square capitals (see this earlier post), improving our tiny nibs, making tiny broad-edge nibs from pointed nibs, and getting into the weeds with pens, gouache, and paper. It is nourishing to be among friends who share our love of all things alphabetic!

Mohawk prayer made in celebration of Earth Day. Calligraphy made in preparation for the workshop: "Capitals as Text & Tiny Paintings as Graphical Elements."
Mohawk prayer made in celebration of Earth Day. 6″ x 6.5″ content area.

The workshop name is problematic: “Capitals as Text & Tiny Paintings as Graphical Elements,” “Tiny Capitals & Tiny Painting,” “Small Capitals & Landscapes” — perhaps some day I’ll settle on a cogently brief name.

This is only the second workshop our state guild has hosted since the pandemic, and it was so good to be together again. Many thanks to my friend Mary Jo who put me up in her lovely house. I’m amazed at what a stellar job she and Ruth did in organizing the workshop. (AND we got to see baby geese!)

Geese mother and chicks

Kako Ueda’s cut-paper solo show, “Tori Tori Tori” in NYC this spring

The opening reception for Kako Ueda’s solo show, “Tori Tori Tori,” will be held May 12 at Olympia in NYC. The show runs from May 12 through June 17. I wish I could be there to see it. Her cut-paper creations are beautiful, intricate and wholly absorbing.

The themes for the show “Tori Tori Tori” are migration and the presence of the chimera. For more information about the show, check out this page at Olympia Art.

I’ve posted about Kako Ueda’s work before: once about her solo show in 2008, and once as part of a list of links to paper cutting artists I like, back in 2007.

Collage workshop with Brody Neuenschwander

Collage art, 11 x 14 inches, with layers of papers, scratched-in letters, old book pages, and more.

This two-month collage workshop with Brody Neuenschwander has come to an end, and I’ve barely scratched the surface (sorry! couldn’t resist … sorry again!). We explored so much that it would have been impossible to even try it all. We dyed, whitewashed, scratched letters, stamped letters, collaged old book pages and monoprints and actual items, and so much more.

The piece shown above has layers of Western and Asian papers, old book pages, tiny lettering, whitewash, and scratched letters. It references carpet pages such as you might see in 6th-century bibles. The scratched letters read (only if you want to read them) a saying my grandfather was fond of repeating. “It’s a great life if you don’t weaken.” And the tiny lettering at top left and curved at top are more literary and verbose version of the same sentiment. However, the platinum gouache in the egg shape at middle right doesn’t photograph well, answers these quotations: “I’m weakening.” Content area 11 x 14 in.

You may remember my posts about the year with Brody in 2021. What an experience!

The collage workshop is dead (not it’s not — I could spend the next 2 years at least on this material). Long live the collage workshop: The Magic of Kozo begins in just two weeks. And I’ve got a big frame to build, and more art (well, hardware-store) supplies to buy. It’s a great life, if you don’t weaken.

Working in a blackletter class with John Stevens

This online class finished a couple of weeks ago. However, I’m still working on the plethora of blackletter exemplars and examples that John Stevens shared with us. So it not only was a wonderful class, it still is a wonderful class for me.

A folio of Fraktur lettering, with brush-made abstracted Fraktur forms on the left and pen-made text on the right.
Left: flat brush and Nicker poster color on Artagain black paper. Right: 2mm Brause nib and stick ink on unknown difficult paper. Each page 9×12 in.

John usually includes layout in his classes. And he often uses the folio to combine image and text on the page together. The work above is a response one of those folio assignments.

I still want to spend some time with double-stroked blackletter (this example of John’s is so luscious), Fraktur capitals with pen and with brush, pattern-filled Lombardic capitals, and some Zapf and Koch exemplars. And more …

It’s interesting to compare the lettering I did in this class with the blackletter work I did in Luca Barcellona’s class two years ago. I felt more comfortable with that earlier work, even as it was happening. And I wonder why? I think it may be that the earlier class did not present as many choices, as much background. I feel that I came away from the blackletter class with John Stevens with a whole panoply of lettering choices and ideas, and that I learned one style very well in Luca Barcellona’s class. Both have been extraordinarily valuable classes. And I’m glad that I happened to take the two classes in the order that I did.

Happy new year!

Various tools — Derwent white pencil, Molotow liquid chrome marker, pointed pen and white ink — on Strathmore Artagain black paper, collected and layered in Photoshop.

The first prompt of the year in our FB group is “Clean Slate”. I like the idea of a clean slate, but I’m not so sure I believe in ’em. A well-scraped palimpsets, maybe: they’re way more interesting, anyway.

A look back at 2022 – the Instagram Top Nine

Top Nine Instagram Posts of 2022
Top Nine Posts of Instagram

Here are my nine most popular posts on Instagram in 2022. The app tells me that I had 2.6K likes in 2022 on a total of 24 posts. Gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling 🙂

Some of these images I’ve posted on this blog. You can get a better look at the bottom right one here (my second blog post of the year). And two weathergram images are the subject of this blog post in March. And this March blog post show the Ben Shahn lettering of the middle left image.

I evidently didn’t look for my top nine in 2021, but you can see my top nine in 2020 here on Instagram. In some ways, it’s a very different look. Oh, I’ll just put them here, so you can see them on the same page.

My top nine posts on Instagram in 2020

More Roman text capitals … and painting

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted anything at all! Life has been jammed up with political things (my husband’s re-election campaign, for instance), and I’m finally getting a chance to begin to catch up and take a deep breath. I’ve gotten back to Roman text capitals, which don’t want to let me go.

I’ve also been teaching more. Last month I taught a two-day workshop on Roman text capitals, color, painting and design to a delightful group of calligraphers in Albuquerque. Every time I teach this workshop, it evolves some more. (You may remember this blog post about my study of 6th century square capitals.)

Here is one of the samples I brought along to the workshop this time.

"The Roadside Fire" by Robert Louis Stevenson, done in Roman text capitals with gouache and small metal pen.
“The Roadside Fire #1” – Robert Louis Stevenson’s poem.
Gouache and small metal pen on Arches Text Wove paper. Text area 4″ x 6″.

I can never see this poem without hearing in my head the Ralph Vaughn Williams setting of it. I’ve played the piano accompanied for many a baritone student at the university. You can hear Bryn Terfel sing it here. The entire song cycle is pretty wonderful.

Even more Roman minuscules in my oh-so-exciting practice journal

Roman minuscules practice journal page
Gouache and #5 Mitchell nib on Zerkall Laid (sideways – ack!). X-height is 4mm.

I’m up to page 37 in my Roman minuscules practice journal. It’s strange how you begin to think you’ve run out of what to do next, and then suddenly more possibilities appear, and more, and more … I’ve become absorbed in the process, and I have ideas for another 37 pages, at least.

More Roman minuscules practice

Roman minuscules practice with #6 Mitchell pen, using pressure-and-release
Roman minuscules practice journal, page 36.
Leftover palette of gouache with a #6 Mitchell nib, x-height 2.8mm
(or 9 pen-widths exclusive of pressure-and-release considerations).
12 x 9 in page of Somerset Book paper, I think.

Since mid-July, I’ve been steadily building a journal of Roman minuscules practice. This is today’s work: page 36, towards the end of my 3rd section. I’ll be happy to get off of this paper (Somerset Book?). And I’m looking forward to the Zerkall German Ingres that is the next folio.

At this point I’ve worked my way through the entire copious batch of handouts from Elmo van Slingerland’s 3-week online class. I’ve been branching out in a couple of ways. For a few pages, I followed some experiments to their logical conclusion, changing up size and boldness and shape. I have a lot more to do there. But then I branched out another way, emulating some pages I had long admired by past masters.

I had wandered into built-up pointed-pen Roman minuscules, thanks to a gorgeous page of those by Werner Schneider. (I don’t see it anywhere online, but trust me, it would blow you away.) They were a bear to do, and I actually had a little temper tantrum over them — rather out of character and most immature, but rather satisfying, in a way — before settling down to work on them seriously.

After the difficult work of building up monoline Roman minuscules, I took a break to do this page with a #6 Mitchell and pressure-and-release, curious to see whether I could approximate the general texture of the built-up monoline letters. The answer is: yes, sort of.

I believe I’ll repeat both the built-up pointed-pen and #6 Mitchell pressure-and-release experiments on the next two pages, if only to confirm for myself how much better life is on Zerkall German Ingres.

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