Small Capitals with Small Landscapes – a workshop

examples of small landscapes with small Roman capitals
examples of small landscapes with small Roman capitals

I’m looking forward to teaching a two-day workshop titled “Small Capitals with Small Landscapes” in September.

In this workshop, we’ll mix small Roman capitals fun with a landscape that is just one square inch. Start with pencil and fine marker, we’ll begin with monoline Roman capitals and gradually shrink them down for use as text lettering. Then we’ll focus on what creates rhythm and movement within those texts. We’ll use small broad-edged and pointed pens with gouache or watercolor, and I share a few strategies for making our small lettering sharp and clear. I’ll demonstrate a couple of ways to load the pen with changing colors that add further texture to the text block. And we’ll play with other kinds of texture, letter spacing, and more. And then we’ll create tiny painted landscapes as a graphic element that melds beautifully with our lettering.

These little paintings make beautiful greeting cards, bookmarks, and small framed pieces.

I’ve taught this workshop, “Small Capitals with Small Landscapes”, once before. This time I’ll be teaching members of a southern California guild. I look forward it!

Brody’s online calligraphy classes are the cat’s pajamas

“Sometimes in summer we let go … sometimes” – Bister ink and cola pen

The first of Brody Neuenschwander’s 8 series of online calligraphy classes has come to a close. It more than met my expectations, and my expectations were high.

A little history

I first met Brody during a week-long workshop at Camp Cheerio in 2000. He and Thomas Ingmire co-taught the workshop, “Textual Reverberations”. A good deal of time has passed, but I still have the book I made in that class. During that week, according to my notes — and perhaps the promotional materials, “we looked at meaning in modern text-based art and worked with more open-ended and suggestive processes. Inventive calligraphic writings were developed based on musical, emotional, rhythmic, visual, linear, and formal themes.”

It was a different workshop than most calligraphy workshops in that it tied calligraphy into the larger art world. Every morning we were treated to a talk about lettering in the contemporary art that included a slideshow of work by Cy Twombly, Jenny Holzer, Bruce Nauman, Barbara Kruger, and many others. During that week we also got see what Brody was doing in that wider world. One evening we watched “The Pillow Book”, directed by Peter Greenaway and including calligraphy by Brody. And we saw another collaboration with Peter Greenaway, “Bologna Towers 2000“, in which his writing was projected the towers of Bologna. For me, at that time, it was an eye-opener.

Edited to add: I wrote a blog post about this 2000 workshop here.

Series 1

The just-completed class series advances this theme of calligraphy in the larger world, taking inspiration from the Kufic form of calligraphy. From copying and then translating elements of those forms into Latin calligraphy, we learned to break the grid that our 26-letter palette and vellum/quill tradition have encouraged.

the text:
pheasant sandwiches
the Dagwood
Sunday-go-to-meeting buns
hot cross buns (left side)
Mrs. Lovett's meat pies
The Host
Emilio's ham & cheese
Hillel sandwich
the best thing since ... since ever
A list of sandwiches and bread in popular Western culture and literature, from Mrs. Lovett’s meat pies to the Hillel sandwich, with hot cross buns down the left side. You can hover over the image for a complete list. Pilot Parallel Pen and ink.

I haven’t begun to describe the class; a full description is beyond me. I’ve shown my homework submission here, but you can enjoy the fantastic work of some of the other students at instagram #brodyonline. Sorry you missed it? You can still take the class as a recording. Series 2 begins in April and looks to Chinese seal script for inspiration. I can’t wait!

Bister inks and cola pen.

“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.

Serifed Roman capitals in John Stevens’ Uncials to Capitals Class

Drawn Roman capitals done at 3/4-inch height with pencil on Strathmore Drawing 300.
Serifed Roman capitals done with a 3.8mm Pilot Parallel Pen on white butcher paper at 1-inch height. I don’t think I was that back-sloped at the bottom right; rather, I think I tried to fix the perspective of a not-straight-on camera shot. The stiffness of the strokes and serifs are all mine though, sadly.

These are two homework pages from session four of John Stevens’ excellent five-session course, Capitals to Uncials. Session five was held this weekend, and I’m looking forward to doing the homework from that session.

It’s been such a good class, and John presented about 10 times the material shown by my posted homework. I’ve got enough to work on for a year without stopping, and I’m sure that that year’s work would lead to another year, and so on.

John Stevens’ class on uncials and Roman capitals is a welcome challenge

Judging from the disappointed post of fellow calligraphers worldwide, I was awfully lucky to make it into this 5-week class on Uncials and Roman capitals taught by John Stevens. This is week 2. Here are the 2 pages of homework I was willing to share with the class.

I could easily work on this class full time! I’m quite sure that some of my fellow students have been doing so, and even working overtime. I’ve been drawn into spending much more time on it than I realized. So now I’m scrambling to get to all of the work piling up in my studio. Today and tomorrow will see me caught up (she says, optimistically).

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

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.

How to Be in the World: An Abecedarian Commonplace for Living – SOLD OUT!

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!

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