Just a little exploratory thing, done with a size 03 mechanical pencil (which I wish I hadn’t dropped and broken – see next to the eraser).
Although I’m a little late, I didn’t want to miss commemorating National Pencil Day this year. It marks the day in 1858 when Hyman Lipman received US patent number 19,783, for the first pencil-eraser combination. And we all know how important the “other” end of the pencil is! Lipman also began the first envelope company in the US. Given the current state of envelopes in US (vis a vis actually writing on them with pen and ink), Lipman may be turning over in his grave. Nevertheless, we scriveners owe him a lot.
I love pencils, those non-leak, portable, low-stakes drawing tools that take up no room in the purse or luggage. Beyond National Pencil Day … If you read this blog regularly, you will know that I love pencils and have posted lots of pencil work over the years.
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.
As of the end of May, these are all sold out. Thank you to everyone who purchased one!
On Monday, I was thrilled to receive my copy of the current issue of Letter Arts Review. It’s always a good day when the LAR arrives, but especially so this time: my ABC pencil portfolio, How to Be In The World, was featured in it — all 28 pages! If you follow this blog, you’ve read about the portfolio several times here. The final product is definitely a ship of Theseus: every single page has been redone at least once.
Although I’m understandably infatuated with those particular pages, the entire issue is an excellent one. It includes an interview with the inimitable Julie Wildman, a book project by Louise Grunewald, Anna Pinto on pastels and pochoir, and more. Get your own copy here.
(In a few weeks, I may be letting up on the exclamation points. Maybe.)
Built Up Caps began last week. I’m enjoying this intensive 6-week online course taught by Yves Leterme. This is the second course I’ve taken with him online at acornartsclasses.org. He is a wonderful teacher and Harvest has created a really good online learning venue, hosting excellent calligraphers and artists teaching interesting subjects.
At the end of this first week, I’ve got a lot of practice sheets to show (but not to show!). Here were my first attempts, which are rather hard to because it’s pencil.
And here’s the homework assignment I submitted:
Yves uses a digital red pen to mark up our submissions. He was fairly easy on me, noting the rogue K join, a strangely curved N, and — and this one has been so hard for me to fix! — the fact that I often pressurize two stroke-ends that join, creating a dark spot. I thought this would be a breeze to change, but it’s a habit that has been hard to break. This page also doesn’t show a lot of pressure-and-release, as he noted. I have a light touch, so it’s been difficult to get that with a pencil. In a later post, I may show a page done on watercolor paper with a Blackwing pencil. It’s a plan, anyway.
Many of my fellow classmates are posting their work on Instagram, as am I. Just look for the #builtupcapsonline tag. We are all working so hard and having a great time.
A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Harvest Crittenden’s workshop hosted by the Big Sky Scribes in Helena. The subject: Spencerian script. I had never studied this hand before. Harvest is very organized and clear, and we learned a lot in a short time. Now all we have to do is … practice, of course.
I haven’t been as regular about it as I could wish, but yesterday I sat down to practice in earnest again. I began with 2 pages of warm-up exercises designed to build kinetic memory. After the page of cross drills, I decided to simply trace, in pencil, a letter written in the 19th century in Spencerian. It helped to teach myself the rhythm of the script, and I was surprised to discover by that method a few things I had been glossing over. Then I wrote a letter in Spencerian using a ball-point pen. I have this lovely ball-point pen with a 0.3 mm point, and I didn’t want to get out ink.
Spencerian practice using a pencil and ball-point pen on B&R layout paper and Crane stationery.
On the plane rides back to Montana from Cuba, I whiled away the hours in my pencil journal. Here’s one of the results:
Here’s the cover of this year’s membership directory for Big Sky Scribes. Amity Parks’ pencil workshop is still alive and kicking in my studio, all right.
It looks nothing like the 4 or 5 or 6 layouts I tried during the actual workshop. Here you see me getting by with a little help from my friends 🙂
Today’s portfolio page brought to you by the letter N: