The Nota Bene of Big Sky Scribes

Recent of issues of the Big Sky Scribes' Nota Bene.

As editor of the Nota Bene, Big Sky Scribes' triannual publication, it is always a pleasure to sort through the many contributions from our state guild's members to put together an issue that showcases their work. The most recent issue went out to members a couple of weeks ago. That lovely image on the latest cover by Shelby Barrentine commemorates Earth Day.

As a side note, did you know that "triannual" means three times a year, while "triennual" means once every three years? Just thought I'd clear that up.

Flowery Built Up Capitals

Various bits of correspondence decorated with watercolor flowers and built-up capitals.

Slightly hungover from an overindulgence of Built Up Capitals, I'm trying flower painting... and a little hair of the dog that bit me, because I can't quite go cold turkey even now.

A small peek at a recent commission

Commission work. Poem lettered for accordion book. Covers: bookcloth over boards. Text: Stonehenge, sumi ink, gouaches, watercolor. About 5 in x 9 in.

Last month I had the honor of lettering and binding a poem written for a wedding anniversary. I was quite pleased with the result, and so were they. (Lettering blurred for privacy considerations.)

More work in the Built Up Capitals online class

classwork for week 4 of Built Up Capitals class
18 in x 12 in. Three gouache colors, #4 and #5 Mitchell nibs, on Arches MBM. Text from "Unmarked Boxes" by Rumi.

These versal variations are simply addictive. Slowly, slowly, I internalize how to waist the strokes (but not too much), how to finish the finials squarely, how to add a hairline serif. Then my concentration drifts and so does the width of the stroke, the slant of the letter, the shape of the bowl.

I was really focusing on the letter forms, and the layout was planned only line by line. As I imagine happens with a writer of a serial novel, I wrote myself into a couple of dead ends. And added the squares at the end to break up a hole that had formed.

Envelope exchange – April

Envelope made for a year-long envelope exchange. Gouache and metal pens.

After a few years off, I'm enjoying the year-long envelope exchange that Wendy Cowley oversees. It's a once-a-month opportunity for a low-stakes bit of creativity. This was my April envelope, as you may have guessed. The name on the envelope grew out of playing around with changing colors in the nib on the fly, something I enjoy doing from time to time. The flowers are half-remembered from a long-ago week with Alice Koeth at Camp Cheerio.

I'm running behind for May, but I'll catch up today. The Built Up Capitals class is taking all my time these days.

Built Up Caps – week 2…a

Built Up Caps - practice for the first part of week 2. Pencil for 4 lines and 005 ZIG Millennium marker for 4 lines. Strathmore Drawing 400 heavyweight, 18 in x 12 in.

What a engrossing time I'm having with these built-up caps. What an eloquent, careful, and kind teacher Yves is! I am enjoying reading his oh-so-encouraging yet exacting critiques of all the work that has been posted for his "red arrows".

As I wrote in my Instagram post,

It's a slo-mo party in my studio. This page took me three days to do, and it was mesmerizing. A fellow student has called it something like "a festival of emotions". That's right. The satisfaction of a well made curve, the horror as one's seemingly disembodied hand strays irrevocably out of the carefully planned width of a stroke, the shock when one realizes that 2 lines of sub-par lettering have eaten up 2 hours of the day. I can't wait to do more.

I realize this was a fairly negative view of the experience in its detail, so I'll add this here: Besides the satisfaction of a well-made curve, there is also the pleasurable process of building up these elegant arboriform waisted strokes, the absorbing interest in sculpting the interior spaces, and so much more.

Stay tuned for week 2b, when we add the broad-edge nib and gouache to the mix.