art + design, Inspirations, journaling + mail art, stuff i've made

An acquired hand

copperplate envelope
I know a lot of you won’t believe me, and will think I’m being humble, but I have the worst natural handwriting in the world. In primary school, I and a mischievous boy called Francisco (incidentally, my childhood nemesis…when I was 7, I chased him with a knife and got into a lot of trouble) were held up to the class as examples of incorrigible, unreadable scribes. Never stated, but plenty implied, was that our penmanship indicated psychotic tendencies.

I could not have cared less about penmanship when I was 7, but as I reached the end of high school my terrible handwriting distressed me. I had fallen in love with literature, and was nursing small dreams of becoming a writer, but the cheap notebooks filled with my first essays, poems, and stories—written in my demented, unlovely hand—fell woefully short of my belletrist ambitions to pen flourishing and graceful pages, worthy of the British Museum’s archives…

I taught myself how to write. I bought a dip pen and a set of roundhand nibs, and used them every day…even at university. I probably presented a ridiculous image, sitting in the library, writing notes in italic with a dip pen and a bottle of burgundy ink…there must have been sniggers, and lots of eye-rolling. *sigh* Whatever. We are so affected when we’re young. But my college notes are fabulous; I have them still.
mail art MK

Using a dip pen has become second nature to me, so it’s not such an affectation, anymore. This doesn’t mean that my real handwriting has changed, though. Give me a ballpoint or a felt tip pen, and my handwriting is as illegible, psychotic, demonic as ever. It hasn’t been transformed, only concealed.

It was always the kind of pen that made the difference. Fussy pens, like dip pens with calligraphic nibs, or those very fine, delicate points on expensive technical drawing pens, have to be held a certain way, manipulated slowly to avoid damaging them, have to be used correctly or they won’t work at all. Their finicky temperaments impose order upon my handwriting.

A copperplate doodle sheet posted by salman on The Fountain Pen NetworkNow I am teaching myself Copperplate script. I bought the strange-looking Mitchell’s Copperplate Elbow oblique nib at work, and have been using it at every opportunity…copperplate To Do lists, copperplate journal entries, copperplate appointments in my datebook, copperplate letters to friends (and their addresses on envelopes)…

I have barely started, and already I can see that I will need an oblique nib holder, because the Mitchell’s Copperplate Elbow, while set at the right angle for Copperplate, is not as flexible as I’d like it to be. I have a Gillott’s 303 and 404 nib, they’re so springy-sproingy that it’s like writing with cat’s whiskers (and it’s the difference between the superfine point of the nib, and how far apart the tines will spread when you apply pressure, that make for some of my favorite Copperplate examples on the internet) but the nib has to held at an oblique angle to the lines on the page to get the thick-and-thin areas in the right places.

I probably wouldn’t pick Copperplate to begin using dip pens and nibs…go for Roundhand, or Italic, first, and when you’re comfortable with using a nib, you can venture into the fancier scripts. It will be many years of writing in ‘plain vanilla Copperplate’ before I will feel game enough to tackle the sort of scrolling and ornamental work you see in this video:

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amazing people, art + design, blogging, Inspirations

Zero the One: Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

So proud of my friend Kat’s evolving blog, Zero the One…it’s got a new look, stunning photographs combined with fun fonts and design, light-flooded videos featuring creatives and thinkers that she has met on her travels (and at home, which happens to be Rome…a historically rich seam for creative mining), and a brave, beautiful, distilled raison d’être:

We are shameless artists, seekers and movers who care about epic shit.
And a good story (that we live out).

Muse and Tools for Wildish Creatives

The blog’s official re-launch is this October. Get inspired!

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art + design, Inspirations

Jennifer Orkin Lewis, via Lisa Congdon

7.1 & 2 by Jennifer Orkin Lewis

Jennifer Orkin Lewis’s Daily Sketchbook Paintings…oh, to do something like this on my travels! Or even just to do something like this, at home, every single day, without losing the plot or getting distracted, or letting laziness take over!

What a fabulous journal she’s got! I drool over every page. In an interview with Lisa Congdon of Today is Going to be Awesome,  Jennifer says that she spends just thirty minutes on each page. Thirty minutes! I look at any one of her journal pages, and I know I would struggle to do it within two hours. But maybe that’s because I don’t paint a journal page every single day. Duh.

These 365-day projects, though I admire them like crazy in others, have just never worked out for me…my good intentions and initial enthusiasm about a project are built on such weak foundations. Oh, well, that’s not quite accurate, I have managed to make a pot of coffee every morning for the past 16 years of my life, or something like that. (Now that’s something to think about…perspective shift! Convince self that art is coffee, and that I will kill someone if I don’t do it! LOL)

*sigh* You know I only posted this to satisfy a preposterous inner need, right now, to be Jennifer Orkin Lewis…as though sharing someone’s amazing work will allow a little bit of the achievement to rub off on me…vicarious blogging. It’s lame. :)

Daily Sketchbook Paintings 7.1-20 | August Wren.

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art + design, Inspirations

Art Crush : : Sveta Dorosheva


Ukraine-born and Israel-based artist Sveta Dorosheva is one of just two or three artists I follow on Béhance. Over the years her work has been consistently rich, ornate, delightful, meticulously drawn, and tells such wonderful stories! She’s like Ivan Bilibin, Harry Clarke, Katsushika Hokusai and Hieronymus Bosch rolled into one.

In her latest post she shares 6 or 7 huge collages of her sketchbook and diary pages. It is such a treat to see so much creativity in one place, it’s kinda overwhelming! But don’t stop there…please look at all her projects—she draws some of the most beautiful women, and the costumes are to die for. There is so much to look at and love…medieval ladies, Persian miniatures, the Tarot, steampunk, calligraphy, flapper girls and the Art Deco, lovers through the ages, fairytales…her creativity and her imagination are top-notch. Most of her illustrations are drawn by hand

Clicking on either image will also take you to her Béhance projects…

And I just discovered, tonight, that she has a Society6 shop! The chance to own something with her work on it makes me feel a little giddy! I just don’t know which one to choose!

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I love abstract painting…probably because it is so much harder to do well, because there is nothing familiar, recognisable to comfort the viewer or fool her into thinking that she understands anything about the work or the artist behind the work.

It is paint dancing on its own, when paint is not being coerced into parading as something else…like a tree, or Magritte’s treacherous image of a pipe that is not a pipe (because, hello, it is paint). I’m still amazed when I meet people who will discuss a painting of something as though it is that thing, and not a skin of paint dried on canvas. Reminds me of the simple folks in the Philippines who would throw drink cans and rubbish at a movie screen when the bad guy appeared…

“I’m very interested in when something coalesces, so when something that could feel random and chaotic stops feeling like that and feels balanced, and at ease with itself, when it stops being cacophony and starts being rhythm and music…”

I’m very interested in that, too. Counting the days till the Mermaid I work for comes back…

I’m working five days a week for the next month and a half, while my manager takes her much-deserved annual leave. That means precious little time to do anything like play or dream…especially as I’ve also had a stall at a craft market every single weekend in a row this May. That means the most I can do to satisfy my creative hunger is to read a few blogs, gaze longingly at the beautiful things others are doing, and pine for the days when I can stay home half the week, again, and explore my own ideas, turn things nimbly over as I work them with my hands, or stroke paints onto a surface and build a world where there never was one.

Dinara Mirtalipova’s website is such a beautiful place to wander…she’s an illustrator,

a pattern designer,

and all-around maker of beautiful things…

whose style carries some of the folk art qualities of her native Uzbekistan, and yet definitely feature both a quirky and sophisticated take on those traditional patterns.

Just the kind of wonderful inspiration I needed this evening, as I enter the long dark tunnel of full-time work…and yet also triggering a deep yearning in me to be free of these everyday responsibilities and back in my own dreaming and playing space.

I discovered Mirdinara via the uppercase magazine blog…always a good place to go for excellent design, beautiful photos, fabulous artists and tons of inspiration.

art + design, Inspirations

Yinka Shonibare’s ‘The British Library’

In Yinka Shonibare MBE’s new installation, The British Library, he explores the impact of immigration on British culture by covering hundreds of books—written by those “both celebrated and unfamiliar” who, as immigrants, made unique contributions to what is now accepted as ‘British’ culture—with his trademark Dutch wax (batik) fabrics. Gold tooling on the spines declare the names of all these individuals who, at some point, came to Britain as immigrants, and made their mark.

The British Library asks us to evaluate our attitudes to immigration and immigrants.”

I am always impressed by Shonibare MBE’s work…but especially love this installation, for the sheer joy of seeing whole book shelves crammed with books that have been covered in bold, parti-coloured Dutch wax fabrics. Fabulous! Although not actually bound in these fabrics (I don’t think Brighton Library would let anyone change the covers of their books…the fabrics are merely wrapped around like dust jackets) it certainly sets my own bookbinder’s imagination daydreaming about actually binding my own library in similar, flamboyant fashion.

I did say it was a daydream. :) As though I didn’t already have enough to do for 5 lifetimes…

www.yinkashonibarembe.com

House Festival 2014.

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I experience a visceral delight whenever I see anything made by mad genius Jesse Reno. A real “Artist’s Artist”, and one of my absolute favorites, he is often grouped with the Outsider Art (a.k.a. Art Brut) movement, an artistic environment I find compelling, irresistible, alive and of-the-moment. Abstract narratives. Contemporary primitivism. A large and strong dictionary of symbols and icons that come together to form maps of Reno’s wisdom and experiences. Unapologetically personal and confrontational and courageous.

In addition to being a brilliant painter, Jesse composed, recorded, and produced all the music.

This video is over 20 minutes long, though I always find myself wishing it would go on forever. I could spend the rest of my life just watching Jesse paint. Every one of his books is a must-have.