Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ampersands Mandalas, and Colour & gold

I am fortunate enough to teach at various places around the world and I'll continue to do so until such a time as the invitations stop flowing. I am grateful for time I have to spend with all my lettering artist friends.

A couple of weeks ago I returned to a favourite place of mine to teach, Adelaide. After an invitation from the  Calligraphy Society of South Australia we settled on two one-day workshops. Workshop one: Ampersands and Workshop two: colour & gold. Both workshops were just a taste in each area.

a shout of congratulations to the Calligraphers in South Australia.

Ampersand Mandala


My in-class sampler

My in-class sampler

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Ramblings from Missoula Montana

One of the lovely things on this trip is I don't have wifi at the home of the people hosting me Cindy & Jim. It allows me time, time I don't bother taking to do other things, things I used to do before wifi (BW) :-)

Long story but now in Montana, Amity has kindly given me access to her wifi so, here are my late night ramblings.

This year, to date, I have been invited to teach in three Australian cities & towns, Buderim, Sydney & Pokolbin with two more to go Sydney again and Adelaide. To my Australian colleagues I am eternally grateful for your support.  Thank you.

I have also been fortunate to visit and teach in eight US cities this year, Pittsburg, Salt Lake City, Austin, Houston, San Antonio, Colorado Springs, currently I am in Missoula and next week I’ll be in Minneapolis.

To friends and colleagues around the world who, spend hours of their busy lives helping to organize these workshops and classes, I am indebted to you, thank you.

I have also visited Canberra a couple of times to have fun with the grandies, not to forget starting the year off with a New Years Eve concert  - and a few others - in China.

Each class takes a lot of preparation time in email conversations, creation of new exemplars, samplers and new artwork. Travel time and endurance is a huge factor to take into consideration with hours and hours of both flying time and airport time. To me it is a precious time for reading … oh okay and the odd movie or three.

This has been a marvellous year to say the least and it is not over yet.  In November I fly to Dubai, Saudi Arabia to visit with my sister then on to Barcelona to visit with my niece and family. Whilst in Spain I’ll teach in Madrid in November, then on to Torino after which I spend the month of December in Venice undertaking an artist’s residency at the Scuola Internazionale de Grafica Design, in Cannaregio with a workshop and a few afternoon classes.

Coupled with the sadness of loosing my mother in February the year has been one of frenetic periods of pure joy and deep sorrow. I think of her now knowing she would be so proud of the immature daughter who had lost her way in life and finally found it.


 I flew in from Colorado Springs yesterday.
Here, my gorgeous hosts Don & Cecelia Harris.

Just some of the 16 participants in my Colo Springs class. Fabulous share table in front here.

Cecelia and me outside their home.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Birdies, Ampersands & other ligatures San Antonio

My "ampersands & other ligatures" workshop has now finished in San Antonio Texas. The participants were fabulous and we all enjoyed our time of it. It was the first time I used a document camera but I am yet to be convinced that it is the way for me. I was also miked as the group was large and some a little hard of hearing. I got used to that but I had to keep my sniffles in check!

On the way to class, I snapped these "Grackles on a wire" out of the car window!

Participant mementos.


The classroom was a bright and airy pre-school!

Some of the participants painted Celtic ampersands.


 Students work:

 Depending on the style of ampersand some mandalas were quicker to execute than others.

My unfinished in-class sample.

It was great meeting so many talented peeps in San Antonio.

Highlights from The McNay Museum, San Antonio

Georgia Okeefe

Looking Down

A surprise seeing my favourite artist Amedeo Modigliani 

St Barbara
The Master of Frankfurt Southern Netherlandish 1460 - c1533

War Mother
Charles Umlauf

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

The best laid plans ...

I really have not had a moment to log my travels since I arrived in Pittsburgh.  Amazingly & luckily I have been through a few doors but I am not going to be a crashing bore and show them all. The pace has been (happily) frenetic.

On my first day I visited the Carnegie Melon University where I was to teach. Fortunately I was able to spend many hours in the Fine & Rare Books Reading Room. The lettering below was designed by Arnold Bank and thanks to Karen Nordstrom Roberts I was privileged to to view many wonderful works held here.

What's this? 

 Wait for it ...

Father Catich's rubbing of the Trajan Inscription.

 Oh my, I was somewhat excited. I took photos of every word up close and personal for study purposes but lucky you I shan't bore you with them all. Studying from a book is one thing and the best way if you have no other exposure, but to study from the real rubbing is a grade up from that. Other than climbing a ladder as Fr. Catich did.

 But If someone can tell me the answer to my question of the last thirty years "why oh why are the "I's" in "DIVI" (divine) raised above the cap line. Nowhere else on the inscription does this happen with the "I's". My only idea is that it is in reverence/homage to the the "Divine". You know the reason church steeple spire high to touch the Divine ... in this case the Divine Nevae.

 And so, on the visit went pulling out drawers of works held in the collection.

There were at least fifty of Arnold Bank's Teaching exemplars available to view & study.

More to come ...

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The journey begins ...

To say I am fortunate is an understatement. Time and time again I find myself in the most wonderful of situations that allow me to experience extraordinary things.  What I love most is I am always ... always learning something new. Today for example I saw my first driver less car.  Never!!!! I could barely believe it.  Some one reading this in fifty to one hundred years time may chuckle and say "cars had drivers?".  I am in Pittsburgh after all.

I guess you could say today is day two of this particular journey. Day one was spent on a series of aircraft to get me from Tasmania to Pittsburgh USA. The route I like to take when traveling to the US is Sydney - Dallas avoiding that horrible commuter nightmare, LA.  All the flights went well, reasonably on time and smooth transitions. I am getting to know Dallas/Fort Worth very well and would highly recommend it.  For me it is a suitable hub for flying in from Australia and connects me to pretty well anywhere in the States in reasonable time.

I kick of this teaching tour with a weekend workshop 17th & 18th for the Pittsburgh Calligraphy Guild. After that I head to Salt Lake City before heading to Texas for three workshops. I am privileged.

One of the things I have wanted to do on a trip but always thought about it too late, is taking photos of all the doorways I enter ... within reason. So I'll start with the door to my room at the In Residence Marriott Hotel in Oakland Pittsburgh here in the health and University district - Carnegie-Melon, of Pittsburgh. Quite ordinary really just like any hotel door, but is is always good to know the number just in case one has had too much to drink as my son-in-law Shane and I recently chatted about. Gosh we really should have done this in China recently where The Oboe Player (TOP for short) and I spent thirteen days in seven different hotels.

May they be of more interest from here on!

I collapsed into bed about 9,30pm last night and sank in a welcome sleep ... in a prone position as I was not in a prime position on any aircraft.  Today I am taking it easy, getting over my jet lag and doing okay so far, that is ... after waking at 3am and feeling I should be out and about already.

Image result for jet lag

On the plane, I watched three movies and read half a book! The best movie was "Hidden Numbers" excellent true story. I highly recommend it.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

A sickness grips the world ...

The sickness gripping the world is not about good and evil, I think it is about sickness and health. 

Overcoming sick desires to kill and maim for purposes one has convinced themselves is in the name of a god, allah, deity, avatar ... name it what you will may be able to be curbed over time with education, counseling for those lost nobodies who support these criminal barbaric acts.

I feel it is too late for the perpetrators of these violent crimes to be rehabilitated but it is not too late for younger men & women who find themselves with these violent tendencies. As it appears there are consistent barbaric events perpetrated in the name of Allah, not always but mostly, both home grown and not. I believe, more and more emphasis should be placed on prevention rather than cure. A true health analogy. There will be no negotiating with perpetrators, their sickness is so great they intend to die.

As I heard it this morning can not more young counselors be employed to work with youth to guide these youngsters into to more meaningful lives to live and enjoy?  Where is respect, understanding, love and caring coming from in relation to our youth, from us, our parents, leaders, teachers, our community?  Ask ourselves what is going on and help try and stop it. Take little steps in every way that we can see fruitful.  Even if we can't think of any help we can give, at least "think"!

Of course as is always the case, it is a few who destroy it for the rest but if we can all work with the grass routes of our societies and if we took it upon ourselves to make sure our friends and family are safe and mentally well then surely we will spread the goodwill needed.  If only we had as many young counselors as we do police.

It will take generations but it starts here.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Know your worth ...

Yesterday, I took a break from the studio and watched the TED Talk "Know your worth, and then ask for it:
A short pep talk on understanding your worth in business.

The phone rang. And, then it all came unstuck. A little old lady asked, could I make a card for a very special person in her life, her doctor, who had changed her life entirely and was moving on to greater achievements and she want to say a proper goodbye with a gift and a card. "of course I can, I'd be more than happy to help, when do you need it by?", oooo tomorrow, sure, no problem.  I told her I would move my schedule around a little to slot it in. This was really not a problem as I am in the studio on body-of-work building schedule this week.  I told her my work was very specially crafted high-end of the market commissions (TED Talk talking) and the price would be between $30 to $50.  Oh my I could hear her fainting. I told her if she went into any newsagent the cards would be up around $8 - $10.

"Oh no I didn't expect it would cost that much" she said (story of my life).

Then the cracks started to appear. "Well maybe I could make a really simplified card for you for about $20" and I asked her to think about it and ring me back if she wanted me to go ahead. She rang back in about 10 minutes wanting me to make the card ... but no more than $20.

So I spent nearly two hours on the sweet card and envelope from scratch, I spent twenty minutes with her on the phone, I spent at least ten minutes emailing back and forth. And now I am waiting for her to turn up to pick up the card. Waiting, waiting, waiting ...

I should feel good, little old lady, I helped her out but I feel shitty.

I am going to check out what sort of car she is driving!!!

Now of course I have met the lovely old lady who has a tremor and who wanted a lovely card created because she can no longer write. We sat and chatted all things re. tremors, parkinsons, neuroplasticity and children.  How do I feel now? Sorry I said I felt shitty.  :-)

Back to the studio.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Retro deco & the ASC

Home of the Australian Society of Calligraphers at Primrose Park, Cremorne, Sydney.
This venue holds a very special place in my heart. Not only a place where I go to to teach from time to time but where I have been to so many times before as a student. It is for me a place of learning, camaraderie and not least of all friendship. 

Baskets of flowers greet you upon arrival.

The workshop held on the weekend just past was a look back to the art deco lettering of the early 1900's with a focus on Rennie Mackintosh and Margaret MacDonald design. We also touched on the Art Nouveau.

These are some images from only some of the work created by the group. I tried to allow the participants time to get their works completed but I emphasised not to rush. I wanted to introduce a number of Deco elements to the workshop so I did ask them to move on. They did well to work to my time frame and the results were such that they experienced more. There will be time aplenty for after class experiments and work. 

Pure enjoyment!


My in-class demonstration.

Work by Barb.

Work by Meg.

Work by Meg.

My in-class demonstration.

Meg & Susan

Unfinished by Barb

Unfinished by Shas.

 Collective works.

Collective works.

Visit my website too!

Visit my website too!
In-class illumination demonstration

Something about Gemma

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Blackmans Bay, Tasmania, Australia
I am an Australian, a letter designer & calligrapher. I enjoy working with letters and grounds, teaching and mixing with like-minded people.


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