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.

Catching up

It’s been awhile! I didn’t realize how long. A road trip, a dead laptop, extensive house repairs … how the time flies. I have managed to get some calligraphy work done in those tiny cracks of time available. Here are few responses to a couple of the weekly prompts in an online calligraphy group:

palindromic sentence in gouache
Gouache on Fabriano Ingres paper.
palindromic sentence in gouache on Fabriano Ingres paper
Another go at it. Gouache on Fabriano Ingres paper.
The wonderful thing 'bout the limerick
Is its sway o'er the body enteric,
It sticks in the brain,
Plays again and again,
Till displaced by a new tune or lyric.
My attempt at some literary nonsense. Pencil, paper.

2021 roundel calligraphy – Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 at The Artists Shop

“To Every Thing There Is A Season” – gouache on paper, 24 in x 24 in

This is one of my pieces no hanging at The Artists Shop all month long in downtown Missoula, Montana. I’ll be there September 20 & 21. I’d love to see you there!

I have done this basic layout several times since the first time I tried it in 1983. It’s a kind of capstone piece, I guess.

In 1983, I was a rank beginner, and completely self-taught at that point, and I believe it is the first “finished” piece I ever did. Just for, I don’t know, entertainment, here’s an image of that first piece. I’m pretty sure it’s a scan of a photocopy of the original, which I gave to my mother way back then. So young and ignorant I was! But so enthusiastic, and I remain so after all these years.

I believe I did the original with a Schaeffer fountain pen (ack!) on the then-current version of Paper for Pens by Pentalic. The pad of paper was 11 in x 14 in, so this was about 10 in square in the original.

Come see a solo exhibition of my calligraphy in Missoula during September

The postcard for a solo show of my calligraphy at the Artists' Shop in downtown Missoula

I’m so honored to have another solo exhibition of my calligraphy at the Artists’ Shop in downtown Missoula. Thank you, Ann Franke, for all your support! Ann will be hanging this show, and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does with such a disparate collection of pieces.

If you’re in Missoula during the month of September, please stop by. If you do stop by, please let me know your impressions. Unfortunately, I can’t attend the opening reception on September 3. But I’ll be there sometime after that date to see the show.

During the month of September I’ll be posting a few of the pieces here. So if you can’t get to Missoula, watch this space! As you can tell from the postcard, the show will, at the very least, include a broadside version of “Scintillate, Scintillate”. A manuscript book in this edition will be on display as well.

My artist book “Can’t Not Look” has sold!

I’m so pleased that my artist book, Can’t Not Look: Democracy in America, has sold to the Bainbridge Museum of Art. I’ve written about it here, and I had contemplated making three of them. I had planned to update the tweets foldouts for two successive eras of the 45th presidency. Books 2 and 3 were completed except for the tweets. Those tweets were difficult enough to write in the first (and now only) book; now I find myself even more unmotivated to write them out. I also completed a camera-ready print version, but have made no move to get those printed. Here are images of a few more pages of quotations by our first 44 US presidents.

Can't Not Look - unfinished spreads
Unfinished manuscript book series – a few spreads.
Can't Not Look - unfinished spreads
Unfinished manuscript book series – a few more spreads.
Spreads from the camera-ready version of a contemplated commercially printed version.
Can't Not Look - unfinished camera-ready version
More spreads from the camera-ready version of a contemplated commercially printed version.

“The Water is Wide”: An edition of painted artist books as pandemic comfort art

I realize that I’ve never shared the variable edition of 12 manuscript books that I made last fall. Here are photos of the three verses of The Water is Wide. 5 x 8 in, Bister and sumi inks on Arches Text Wove, lettering done with a no. 2 round sable brush. Book cloth over hard cover.

These books were the “comfort food” of the studio this past fall. The melody that goes with these traditional lyrics is the kind of tune that sticks in your brain, but it’s soothing.

Learning Fraktur blackletter style with Luca Barcellona

  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheets
  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheet
  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheet
  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheet

I’m taking Luca Barcellona’s Advanced Fraktur blackletter class through the Society of Scribes, New York City’s calligraphy guild. The last of the three session will take place at the end of next week. Meanwhile, the floor of my studio is simply littered with sheets of blackletter practice. After a similarly structured class with Elmo van Slingerland, I’ve become a little more accustomed to working large. Most of the sheets pictured above are 18 in x 24 in. I’ve done these with a 6mm Pilot Parallel Pen on sheets cut from a roll of white butcher paper. Creamier-toned sheets are Strathmore Drawing 400 paper.

I haven’t taken blackletter from a teacher before, at least not in the past 25 years, and this has been a valuable experience. I missed the previous intermediate class, but I think I’ve been able to catch up. (Having taking two classes through Society of Scribes now, I’ve got to say that Phan Nguyen is the best facilitator ever. He makes the online experience a real pleasure.)

The memory of Christmas presents past

As I work on cards and presents for the holiday season, I think fondly of presents past. One of my very favorite pieces I ever made was for my mother. The text is the lyrics to “Here I Am, Lord,” one of her favorite hymns. The verses are ranged around the circle, surrounding the chorus in the center. It is hard to believe that I made this 24 years ago.

Gouache, ink, colored pencil, pastel on watercolor paper, 16 inches square

Pentel Color Brushes and weathergrams (again)

First pass at the broad tip Pentel Color Brush, written between 5/8″ guidelines on Strathmore Charcoal paper.

It has been a real joy to explore brush calligraphy with new confidence. I had known about the standard and extra-fine sizes of Pentel Color Brushes, and that the black barrels carry dye-based ink while the gray barrels carry pigmented ink. Through JetPens (do not click the link before you’ve hidden your credit card from yourself), I discovered that there are several more brush tips in the Pentel Color Brush collection. I really like the green-cap, “broad tip”, brush, although the amount of ink output was something to get used to

Experiments with various brushes and Bister inks.

I also tried out the PCB that I filled with Bister ink in this post. I think it’s working fairly well, although, as you can read, that one long hair is driving me crazy.

The Pentel Color Brush and weathergrams go together well, and I wanted to check up on my weathergrams. But last weekend it snowed about 10″ and the resulting piles of snow and slippery surfaces temporarily dampened my enthusiasm for walking. By Wednesday, the dry atmosphere had evaporated much of that snow, and we went out to see how the weathergrams are faring. Most of them are gone, but here are a couple that have survived. And the other photo? Well, there is a lunatic fringe of weather/fashion sense in Bozeman. Yes, it had been below zero for a couple of days, and yes, was up in the 40s when I took this shot, but really? Shorts and tennis shoes? As you can see, even Zeke was somewhat taken aback by this guys’ clothing choices.

What??
another weathergram

weathergram on the trail

Pentel Color Brushes + Bister inks

Pentel Color Brushes are the bomb! And so are Bister inks. It was only a matter of time before I would combine them.

I’m continuing to enjoy Elizabeth McKee’s brush lettering class, so much so that my current book edition (going out the door tomorrow) is brush lettered. I’ve fiddled around with the Pentel Color Brush (PCB) a lot — emptying them, dipping them in watercolors and other inks, even using them as-is. The other day I emptied a nearly spent extra-fine PCB and refilled it with Bister inks. I have also been experimenting with making videos. So … here’s a video of me refilling a PCB with Bister inks. It turns out that Pentel Color Brushes and Bister inks go together well. I strained my ink through cheesecloth to keep out the undissolved Bister crystals.

Filling a Pentel Color Brush with Bister Inks

I show the PCB already taken apart. Taking apart a PCB is a simple operation. Grasp that black ring at the top of the black barrel with a needle-nose pliers and pull. The central tube will come out pretty easily. Then rinse out (or wash) both the barrel and the central tube. That’s it!

My favorite store for Pentel Color Brushes is JetPens. I’ve used them a lot over the years, especially when I was doing daily alphabets.

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