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Floral Versal Letters


I drew these versal letters to spell out the phrase, “Be the reason someone smiles today” and added the floral illustrations in watercolor. These are one of my favorite types of letters to create because there’s so much room for variation and decoration.

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Eloise Birth Page

Eloise is the first daughter of a friend of mine — they call her Lou for short! After she was born, I asked my friend for the details of her birth — the date, time and her measurements. I included her birthstone and a couple of her astrological placements in the border surrounding her name. The flowers are snowdrops, flower of the month for January. I used Arches watercolor paper for this piece. I really enjoyed the opportunity to practice with decorative capitals and illustration.

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Pay Attention to These 4 Things for Better Calligraphy

Over the years, I’ve developed an understanding of what makes skillful calligraphy sooo appealing. I mean, there’s so much to love — paper, color, texture, fluidity and confidence of lines — but what truly elevates calligraphic work is invisible: it’s the negative space. When I say “negative space”, I mean the shapes inside the letters, the spaces between the words and letters, and the space around words and sentences. The mind is truly satisfied when these things are in order and it can relax, allowing the gravity of the work to sink more deeply into the viewer. Sounds a little like magic. And come to think of it, the space isn’t nothingness. It’s deliberate. The lines and motions made by the penman carve out those beautiful shapes from the blank page. As if they were already there before the lines were.

It comes down to consistency and for that, practice is required.

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On Studentship

Numbers for my website have jumped, people being home or online as a result of self-quarantine measures. Firstly, thank you for participating in physical distancing. It’s one of the many ways we can work together as a community to stay the damage of this virus and its effects.

With that, I’m seeing tons of creative learning opportunities spring up online and for the first time, people have the time to dive into something that’s maybe been on their list for a while. Calligraphy is so popular right now and it can be difficult to find a “way in”. Calligraphy is also a little deceptive because often times we just see a hand, writing. There is sooo much more to calligraphy than that. The first comparison that comes to mind is stock car racing to driving a regular car. They look the same, but one is way more nuanced and focused than the other. Calligraphy isn’t a life or death situation, but at times there’s a lot more at stake than say, penning a letter to a friend. In the following sections I’ll offer the things that have worked for me the best in my own studentship of yoga and calligraphy over the past 20 years and counting.

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Expanding My Style with Bent Nibs

When I learn something new from a calligraphy teacher, I am reminded of how magical calligraphy can appear to be. As someone who practices and teaches calligraphy, I can get caught up in the aspects of difficulty and perserverance that accompany the writing. But there’s nothing like watching someone who has honed their skills at something deftly demonstrate for you.

To be in a classroom setting is similarly enjoyable to me — to be in a room with people who have differently nuanced knowledge around calligraphic hands, tools, and materials can offer lessons in and of itself. Of course, I know that this is not unique to calligraphy.

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My Calligraphy Studio Edit (Confessions)

I often write for the web with an audience in mind. Maybe this one can be me writing for myself like I normally do, and you can be a witness, as you normally are.

Toward the end of 2019, I felt like I was crawling out from under a rock. A few months after my big dog passed, and just after my 35th birthday in October, I started giving the living and dining areas of my home a facelift. I may go into detail about that on a different blog, but a friend helped me remove the popcorn ceiling that was original to the house, built around the time I was born. I painted the ceiling and walls and replaced the trashed carpeting with interlocking vinyl planks. This was a satisfying project and this is now the part of the post that I address the title.

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+ Calligraphy Seating Chart on a large mirror for spring Tucson wedding

How I Wrote in Calligraphy on a Large Mirror

Rackel Gehlsen, a wedding planner in Tucson, contacted me about this exciting project — a seating chart on a huge mirror.  She said it was so big, it could only be transported by truck to the venue. I collected a deposit from the bride, Samantha, and did a little research on the best way to execute this project. I learned that china markers, or wax pencils, mark on smooth and ceramic surfaces, but can be wiped away easily, which was the most important part of the planning of this piece.

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What I Wish I’d Known When Starting Calligraphy

There are some things I learned from experience and from preference, and there are some things that deterred me from even wanting to sit down to write. I wrote this with the hope that it will remove some resistance in your calligraphy practice and increase your comfort and success!

In this post, I touch on:

  • Posture
  • Loosening up the Pen Grip
  • Taking Breaks
  • Study and Practice
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Common Calligraphy Issues

Here are a few points those new to calligraphy seem to struggle with. I know that learning calligraphy is a slow and intensive process. Please be patient with yourself, make sure you’re taking breaks, and ask for help. If there’s something getting to you that isn’t answered here, let me know.

  • Nib, Ink, and Paper
  • Hand Pain
  • Ink Spills and Smudges
  • Ink Feathering
  • Crooked Letters
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Beginning to Write and Practice

In this article:

  • Studying a Calligraphy Exemplar
  • Tips for Using a Guidesheet
  • Use a Pencil Before Trying Ink
  • Practicing Basic Strokes
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+ "Fields" in calligraphy

Keepsake Bridal Calligraphy

The Concept

This couple, Brittany and Jase, was inspired by the calligraphy I did on agate slices as bridesmaid favors a couple months ago in gold ink. They wanted an elegant piece that could be displayed both on the bridal table at their wedding and later in their home as a keepsake. We settled on gold letters and a white frame with Copperplate as a script (they cited my Instagram posts as reference) and I set to work.

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+ My first book! Accordion fold book with alphabet theme from Alisa Golden's Making Handmade Books. Walnut ink and PearlEx on sketchbook paper.

Why I’m so into Bookmaking

Disclaimer: I am learning how to make books. I should also add that the book I am learning from is titled, 100 Handmade Books by Alisa Golden. Sooo many ideas and great instructions.

Why I’m so into Bookmaking

Mostly because I’m inspired. I have these ideas in my head of watercolor accordion books with creative lettering to depict the Shel Silverstein poem, “Enter this Deserted House”. It’s been on my mind for a good few years, but I lacked the bookmaking knowledge and the awareness of calligraphic hands that could enhance the words of the poem. But now I know and I am more inspired the further I go along. I want to get out of the bubble I see so many other people post online — the flat script of a perfectly executed body of text. Don’t get me wrong, this sort of work is quietly satisfying to a perfectionist like me. And as devoted as I’ve been to mastering regularity in my script and the integrity of a well thought out project, I’ve been craving projects that are more off the wall and personal. Things that reflect my personal surroundings and pieces that are involved but not too complicated.

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