More in Elizabeth McKee’s pointed brush lettering class

Have I mentioned how much I'm enjoying Elizabeth McKee's brush lettering class? Well, it bears repeating. Here are just a few pages of the homework I did in November, the 3rd month of classes.

I've mostly been writing with Pentel Color Brushes (all four tips), Winsor & Newton Series 7 pointed brushes (1, 2, 2 mini), and the Pentel Pocket Brush. I've mostly been using fountain pen ink, Schmincke gouaches, Winsor & Newton watercolors, Dr. Martin's Pro White, and FineTec metallic watercolors.

I'm happily balancing this kind of work with the formal, slower work of study in Elmo van Slingerland's Roman minuscules class through the Society of Scribes ... and the geometry and paper handling of folding portfolio folders and fulfilling orders for my ABC portfolios. I'll post some of my work in the Roman minuscules class next time.

On sale now! How to Be in the World: An Abecedarian Commonplace for Living

If you've been reading this blog, you'll know something about How to Be in the World: An Abecedarian Commonplace for Living. This is a portfolio of 26 sheets that each contain an illuminated letter, a verb, and a favorite quotation relating to that verb. Written and drawn all in pencil, these pages were developed over a number years. It was featured in Letter Arts Review earlier this year, and I also made a clamshell box to hold the stack of original sheets.

I'm pleased to announce that a print version of this portfolio is now available for sale! Twenty-nine pages enclosed in an embossed, printed folder. $25 each, postage paid to US and Canada.

Delivery options

Brush lettering weathergrams during a glorious autumn

Pentel Color Brushes and Artist Brush Sign Pens on Kraft paper. Stamps added before and/or after.

I am so enjoying a brush lettering class with Elizabeth McKee. She was my very first serious calligraphy teacher, way back in 1988-1989. The homework assignments have included making weathergrams, and this has been perfectly consonant with what I want to do. These past few weeks here in Montana, our dog Zeke and I have simply wallowed in the beautiful autumn. And we've enjoyed long walks among the brilliant trees and blessedly clean air and gorgeous sunlight.

Given all this, it's no wonder that I can't seem to stop making these weathergrams! I'm addicted to that slightly rough drag of the brush on Kraft paper, the daylight within the strokes as the ink feathers on the paper. And I have been hanging them around the walking trails in Bozeman. (I'm not sure whether to replace the ones that have disappeared, or find another place to put them. If people are taking them as souvenirs, that's okay. But perhaps they're simply taking out the trash. Or maybe the deer like them. How to tell?)

Weathergrams were developed by Lloyd J. Reynolds, a calligrapher who had a profound influence in the western US in the 70s and 80s. The form is a sort of Western melange of Japanese tanzaku, haiku, wabi sabi, and more. Weathergrams are not sold but given as gifts or hung from trees and allowed to weather. If you want to know about weathergrams, read Reynolds' booklet on the subject. And that booklet has been digitized here by The Haiku Digital Foundation Library.

Read more about Lloyd Reynolds at the website of Reed College, where he was a professor for 40 years.

A virtual meeting with Tamer Ghoneim and the Texas Lettering Arts Council

3.8mm Pilot Parallel Pen, purple ink cartridge that comes in the box of PPP cartridges, never used (I wonder why?? — not ), and an ancient jar of yellow FW acrylic ink, on Strathmore Bristol.

Thanks to Angie Vangalis for organizing an open-to-the public (!) virtual meeting of the Fort Worth Calligraphers Guild meeting online this afternoon. It was so good to be with people who care about x-heights, pen angles, and ink properties for a couple of hours.

Tamer Ghoneim presented the program, entitled "Circles on Steroids", taking us through the process of writing in a circle — and, later, in a series of connected circles. Such fun! I followed along (image above), but instead of the straight-up blackletter that he demonstrated, I chose gothicized italic, a hand that is still texturally dense.

After the meeting I wanted to continue this process he introduced in the meeting: with a purple PPP ink cartridge in this Pilot Parallel Pen, he dipped the nib in the acrylic ink and then wrote, replenishing as the yellow faded and the purple approached full strength. He was using a Liquitex yellow acrylic ink, which somehow turned the purple in reddish, but my FW version didn't do that, obviously. (I wasn't at all surprised.) I repeated a quotation that had been suggested in the chat section of the meeting, lettering this time in a straight line somewhat in the style of the lettering by Karlgeorg Hoefer that I've been studying. The bolder weight necessitated some modifications.

Same 3.8mm Pilot Parallel Pen, purple ink cartridge, yellow FW acrylic ink. Bookhand on Arches Text Wove.

Exploring the hand and vision of Karlgeorg Hoefer

Studying Karlgeorg Hoefer's, "Appel an die Völker der Erde"Studying Karlgeorg Hoefer's,

Ever since I saw it in International Calligraphy Today (1982, International Typeface Corporation), I have admired "Appel an die Völker der Erde", a calligraphic poster by Karlgeorg Hoefer, . Here I've blown it up to the original 22 x 29.75 in and tacked it on the wall, the better to study. In my daily lettering journal, on the verso side, I copied the text as closely as I could, learning the Hoefer's shapes and connections. He often slightly minimizes and tucks the 'i' in; I 've inadvertently exaggerated it here, but I was so enjoying this tucking-in. The second stroke of the 'r' is often raised up the waistline to allow the next letter to tuck in. The bottom of the bowl of the 'e' is often pulled below the baseline to allow the next letter to tuck in. In a double 'l', the first one is usually normal while the second one dropped a little low to unlock it from the first. The 'ch' combination is always connected, but because the bowl of the 'c' is extended and foot of the 'h' raised to tuck into the bowl, it isn't seen as a 'd'. He seems to have done a push-pull on the finials of the 'r' and the 'a', similar to what happens in Carolingian ascenders, for instance.

These details form a compelling picture of idiosyncratic yet consistent choices that are both subtle and purposeful. Rhythm is important to the success of this piece.

Rhythm is also what my studies don't have ... yet. I'll keep working. I'm thinking that a better paper (this is Strathmore Drawing 400 heavyweight), would be helpful. Hoefer wrote on "Japanese paper with Antiqua surface". I haven't been able to figure out just what that means. Nontheless, a kinetic understanding of Hoefer's letters and connections will eventually yield that rhythm, and it's what interests me most in this study.

Daily lettering – bookhand

Daily lettering: bookhand practice with 1.5mm Brause nib and a palette of leftover gouache.. Left side: x-height 5mm; right side: x-height 4 mm.

Lately I've been doing more bookbinding experiments and general studio cleaning and organizing. It's good to get back to daily lettering.

My current reading stack is diverse. I've recently begun Daemon Voice, a series of essays by Philip Pullman. The sheer craftsmanship of his writing makes it a continual pleasure to read his work.

I just finished, finally, The 7½ Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle, by Stuart Turton. I'm not sure it was worth it, but every once in awhile I admired a good metaphor.