Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New! Online Introductory Calligraphy Classes!

I'm super excited to announce that I've just created my first online calligraphy class! It can be accessed here:

The class is a hands-on introduction to the fun and versatile Pilot Parallel pen. Using basic calligraphy strokes, students will work through exercises which demonstrate pen angle and develop rhythm while creating a series of marks they can work with when designing their own tattoo. Learners will be encouraged to create an original design, and given four approaches to use in designing their tattoo.

Although designed for beginning calligraphers, this class teaches skills which can enhance the work of illustrators, designers, typographers, tattoo artists, watercolour artists and anyone else who isn’t afraid of a little water-based ink on their fingers! Exercises and guidelines help break the process down and guide students along. No previous experience required, and body inking is entirely optional. 

NOTE: This class is the first in a trilogy!

My plan is to teach pen skills and working with with coloured inks in two fun skillshare classes, as a prelude to lettering. The idea is to get you super comfortable with the pen and acquiring skills with both pen and ink – before turning attention to the more serious work of letterforms. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Introducing The Other Alice

I’m excited to be launching a line of cards, designed under the name, “The Other Alice”. Website will be ready soon, etsy store is up! Hope you visit and enjoy!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

New Brush!

I just bought a new brush – the Liquitex Freestyle – a full six inches wide and looking like it just might be able to create a calligraphic stroke! I am excited to try it...

I also stumbled across a facebook post telling me this is the same brush Loredana Zega is using for her stunning work on walls. Obviously, the brush can do it... now, what can I create with this?!

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Back – on Black

After a year and a half of battling “frozen shoulder” (a common calligrapher’s complaint?), I was recently able to fully participate in a calligraphy workshop taught by Connie Furguson-Card. The workshop was aptly named “Lettering on the Dark Side”. I’m no stranger to writing on dark colours with white ink, but I had never explored colour on black... this workshop got me moving in a new direction... thanks, Connie! Need to watch the inner shapes on my letters but it feels sooo good to get this arm warmed up!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Welcome, 2012!

This video by Ponte Ryuurui, of Chiba, Japan, seems like a good way to wecome The Year of the Dragon!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Commercial Lettering

The past year has been one in which I’ve not spent as much time as I’d like doing “pure” calligraphy. However, in my work as a graphic designer, some lettering projects have come up. Here's a few:

Monday, September 06, 2010

101 ways to create ‘magic’

A cheerful movie by Louis Lemoine, known to many of us as “The Magic Man.” Louis writes, “This movie shows the word ‘magic’ calligraphed 101 different ways using either a brush, pen, marker or pencil. I did one a day, taking weekends, holidays and vacation time off. Hope you enjoy it. If you get a chance visit my website: or my blog:”

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Magic of Vitaly Shapovalov

One challenge all calligraphers face at some point is how to successfully integrate text and image. Calligraphy tends to be such a strong visual force that combining it with images often leads to dissonance between the image and text. I remember once picking up a book about calligraphy and flowers, only to marvel at how calligraphy and flowers can clash!

But, along comes Vitaly Shapovalov — a Russian calligrapher, illustrator and graphic designer who makes it look oh-so-natural. His calligraphic style is fluid and he adjusts the contours to reflect to the content of his illustration. He has been posting his work on facebook, and admiring calligraphers from around the world are taking note. Just when we think we've seen it all, he posts another album of his work and we are blown away again! Enough from me, here is some of his work (double-click on image to see larger):

Vitaly is actively involved in Russia’s International Exhibition of Calligraphy, and more of his work can be seen here.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Out of Africa – Beach Calligraphy

Out of South Africa comes the truly unique work of Andrew van der Merwe – beach calligraphy, he calls it. Andrew writes about his work: “If a calligrapher is someone who loves writing, then I have been a calligrapher since my very first writing lessons. Or is it just a love for women? I dunno but I did think the teacher who gave me all those gold stars was beautiful! Either way, it wasn’t women who had me breaking my academic trajectory in philosophy and politics, but calligraphy. To help pay my way, I started freelancing while I was at university and went full time soon after that.

I also love the surf and the beach and have always enjoyed scratching words in the sand with sticks. Sticks make more of a mess than a mark, so this led to the special shaping of the sticks and to the development of various instruments to achieve better results and ultimately to ways of cutting the sand out to leave a neat V. The V was a great discovery, not only for its neatness and shadow, but because it sets up a lovely contrast between the typical, permanent V of stone carving and the wonderful, temporal quality of the beach calligraphy.

I also developed ways of avoiding footprints, and this is often what impresses people most, but for me the real challenge remains getting the letter forms good. Any calligrapher will understand that!”

Above is just a small sampling of his work. He has more online at, and you can buy prints at or

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Lost Emails!

Over the holiday season, I was checking my email on remote computers and had a few inquiries and questions about calligraphy come through. I planned to answer them when I returned home, but found, to my dismay, that they had disappeared from my Inbox. If you wrote recently, and had no reply [how rude!] - please accept my apology and try again!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sunday, October 04, 2009

The International Exhibition of Calligraphy, Russia

Since starting this blog, I have become more aware of global reach of calligraphy. This month, Moscow is hosting The II International Exhibition of Calligraphy. Look at this list of participants! There’s hours of online exploration here! Or choose to view the gallery. An incredible range of work showing the international appeal of the letter arts.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Morning Dervish

On a good morning — those mornings when I don’t stumble directly to the kitchen for coffee — I start the day with the five Tibetan Rites. The first rite is whirling, like a dervish. And so Morning Dervish came to be.

This dervish has now whirled south to be a part of an exhibition at the Naples Museum of Art, entitled The Saint John’s Bible and the Art of the Book. Needless to say, it is honored to participate!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

New work-in-progress

Sneak preview of some of new work — quite experimental at this point. I’ve recently taken an acrylic painting course with Timothy Hoey (Tim Rocks!) and he helped me start moving in a new direction with glazes and textures... fun!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Natural Calligraphy

At first glance, calligraphy seems to be so focussed on the man-made. Drawn or pen-made letters, philosophical quotes, rulers and grids. We study the history of letters, which intertwines with the history of today’s dominant cultures.

Because I draw so much inspiration from nature, I’ve often wondered why I don’t paint watercolour landscapes or florals or pet portraits? Why am I so strongly drawn to letterforms? Why, when I doodle, is it inevitably a letter? Something so removed from the natural world.

Or is it? Recently, I've been paying attention to the many shapes in nature that mimic calligraphy. Or rather the many shapes in nature that contemporary calligraphy mimics! Sit back and look at the photos at right — the calligraphic shapes are obvious, but take it one step further and identify a contemporary calligrapher who uses these forms in their work — the relationship is surprisingly easy to see!

Perhaps what we seek in our calligraphy is the replication of nature’s casual grace, simplicity of pattern or riot of texture. For all the years of human design history, nature still leads us forward with an ever-changing environment filled with inspiration.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Calligraphic Cross-Training

There’s much talk in the calligraphic world about freedom vs. discipline — and mini-battles sometimes take place between those who advocate disciplined, legible work and those who prefer expressive, abstract and/or illegible work.

It seems to me that calligraphers — more than most artists — are like athletes. Our work depends on years of disciplined practice, but comes down to “a performance”, a given moment when tool touches down on paper, vellum or canvas. A crucial moment because ink is indelible. Too loose and we make a mess. Too tight and the performance appears strained.

So, like athletes, are we not wise to cross-train? Like a runner who lifts weights, we can retain freshness, balance and longevity if we vary our workouts. Sometimes, a disciplined workshop where we focus on form, later a crazy experiment which may or may not work. Always, at the end, a bit of analysis of what worked and what didn’t.

Yes, there is the risk of the inexperienced calligrapher who might “injure” themselves by flourishing long before they have the skill to pull it off, just as a runner might strain a muscle. It will set back their career, leave them floundering for a bit. But it is also part of the process of learning to find the sweet spot where spontaneity meets control and the results soar.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Welcome to Calligraffia

A team of our friends down under are launching a new calligraphy blog, Calligraffia which will feature “calligraphy news, views, reviews, interviews & how-tos” from around the globe.

Their launch today, February 13th, coincides with the first anniversary of the Apology to Australia’s Indigenous Peoples, and the first posting is an interview (by blogger, Rhonda Ayliffe) with calligrapher, Gemma Black, who scribed the motion for the Australian Parliament — an interesting read.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Canada’s Golden Book

Like my Grandmother, and others who love to entertain, Canada has a guestbook. It is called “Canada’s Golden Book” and is signed by visiting heads of state. A page for a visiting dignitary includes a illumination of their national flag, their name and date of the visit. (Apologies that I don’t have better quality photos.) When I was in Ottawa last November, I met one of the scribes who has done many of the inscriptions, Judith Jaimet Bainbridge. Judith’s clients have included the Chancellery of Canadian Orders and Decorations, The Heraldry Authority of the Governor-Gerneral, the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the Secretary of State. Her work graces the Merchant Navy Book of Remembrance and the document granting the Coat of Arms of the Territory of Nunavut.

Judith’s work on Canada’s Golden Book started with the entry for Bill and Hillary Clinton and ended with the 50th anniversary for Queen Elizabeth. She’s now retired, and spending her time with other interesting projects. In March, she’ll be coming here to Victoria to give a presentation and two-day workshop for members of the Fairbank Calligraphy Society. We eagerly anticipate her arrival!

Psst. And a little bird tells me that Canada’s Golden Book is being prepared for the first visit of President Barack Obama by calligrapher, Karen Mackay and heraldic artist, Debra Macgarvie.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunshine from Susan Richardson

In the midst of a cold Canadian winter, it is nice to travel, mentally, to sunnier climes. I can get a shot of warmth looking at the work of SanDiego-based artist and calligrapher, Susan Richardson. Susan and I sat side-by-side at the Island Magic Conference in 2007, and she is as warm and interesting as her work. She’s recently updated her website and added an online store where she sells giclee prints at very reasonable prices! Enjoy!

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas, everyone!