To join me on a virtual sketching trip, download a travel sketch-journal here.
I add tutorials to them so you can learn the techniques and details you see in the sketchbooks.

My former workshop students asked me to upload my workshop workbooks to make them available to everyone. So you can also download a workbook and give yourself a workshop! Enjoy!

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Journaling With Calligraphers! June 6-7

Oh my! Where did this last month go!?!
A week of it was spent on vacation in Idaho with my brother (that's him at right). In addition to swinging in a hammock, helping prepare for a family party and larking about in the Owyhee Mts looking for fossils (in the craggy area above left), and lots of other good times, that journey included a 1065 mile road trip. Ouch!

Much of the rest of the month was consumed in an illustration job I'm doing on some interpretive signs showing a coho salmon stream, complete with coho, rocks, eggs, crayfish, assorted snails and other stuff. Plus a cottonwood tree and sedges on the bank. Ayeee!

And then, there is the online watercolor pencil class I'm taking with Kate Johnson with it's multiplicity of assignments (for those classmates who wanted to see the roadside flowers I sketched this Dirty Socks flower from, go to the end of this blog entry) and the 4th of July weekend (I went with Daniel and his mother up into the Siskiyou Mountains yesterday to admire the wildflowers, which are in their prime up high where it's cooler {it was 99° down here in the valley yesterday, and 100+ this last week!}). There wasn't much time to sketch, but I was wishing, wishing! I mean, look at that incredible flowered mountain meadow at left!

Oh, and I forgot to mention the consultation job I'm doing with the Oregon Trail Institute on a proposed publication. Additionally, I'm preparing a brand new workshop which debuts tomorrow at the North Mountain Park Nature Center, teaching Nature Observation and Journaling to kids ~ 12 in all. Of course, you never want to let on to participants that they're taking an untried workshop, so I shall have to appear as though I know what I'm doing....

So, I hope you delightful calligraphers who took my class on June 6 will forgive the lateness of this blog about our riotous and delicious class. I've been trying to get at it for quite some time!

Cynthia, from the local Calligraphers Guild contacted me to ask if I would teach a journaling class for the members. I was a little nervous about teaching calligraphers because, well, they can callig a whole lot better than I can ;^} and I thought they might be, well, you know, snooty about it. But Cynthia was SO nice via email, I decided I must be wrong ~ and was I ever! I don't think I've ever laughed as much in any other class I've taught.

Some students brought hand-made journals to work in, and by the end of the class had made quite a lot of headway in them. The cover of the one above is made of wire "hardware cloth" interwoven with textile strips, ribbon and yarn, a gorgeous thing.

Because the participants were already well acquainted, it was an uproarious class, full of jokes and laughter and experimentation, and the results were remarkable.

Although their calligraphy skills were well developed, and some had art skills and training, others were nevertheless beginners at art and not experienced with journaling. So I went ahead with the usual agenda, starting with the contour drawings of hands, then sketching a leaf, then drawing sea shells.

The next step was designing attractive pages using the freeform shapes I brought to class, and writing descriptive paragraphs about their shells. Things progressed quickly from there with the introduction of the "Fun Font" for adding titles, then we stopped for a break and critique, a cuppa tea or coffee, and ruminations about their progress.

I think because they are calligraphers, they are used to working with art tools, which gave them a distinct edge over the average beginning artist. I passed out the watercolor pencils to add color, and soon they were coloring their shells with great relish, while I trotted around the group offering suggestions, praise, and advice about problem areas.

[Did I mention that when I arrived at our workshop in the local library meeting room I was greeted with my very own calligraphy name tag? THAT's a first ~ I'm usually the one handing out name tags!]

Beginning artists worked slowly and cautiously, while more experienced ones sailed ahead enthusiastically, adding color to their hand and leaf contour excercises. I was delighted to watch their experiments in mixing colors and trying out watercolor pencil techniques.

By the end of the day, they had turned out some beautiful journal pages. Not all were totally finished, but that's the beauty of journaling ~ one can always add to or finish things later, but in the meantime, they still look nice. Here are the first day's results:

At the end of the first day, I had asked them to bring ephemera to glue into their journals the next day. Few people manage to remember this the second day, so I was gobsmacked when they brought in BOXES of ephemera. It seems that calligraphers like to play around with stuff like this, and they even scrounge around at yard sales to find goodies. I had brought leaves pressed in my little microwave plant press, so our table was a veritable cornucopia of ephemera! They also brought art books and journals and other delights and examples to share. I didn't get a chance to look at everything, alas!

Our lone male student had assigned himself the homework of producing his own Fun Font, and he displayed it with quite understandable pride. I finally managed to get this unruly bunch seated for the writing session, and soon they were hard at work crafting creative paragraphs and haiku, sketching new subjects with great skill, and studying the placement of various bits of ephemera on their pages.

After lunch I introduced decorative borders and initial caps, so the afternoon was a riot of sketching, writing, snipping, gluing, flower-pressing and creating imaginative borders around pages and between elements on the pages.

I think I probably learned nearly as much as they did in this class. My usual classes lean more toward hesitant beginners, so watching these folks at work was quite entertaining. (Don't get me wrong -- I LOVE teaching beginners, helping them open doors they didn't even know had doorknobs on 'em. But this was fun, too.)

In order to keep from interrupting their trains of thought, I tried to keep myself busy doing their assignment along with them (sort of) with examples of borders, shaped creative paragraph, ephemera, labels, haiku, Fun Font and color. The only thing lacking, since I was trying to squeeze so much on the page, is any sort of sophisticated "design." But it's a fun page to look at, and it was GREAT fun to make.

The students shared their paragraphs and haiku with the class, to everyone's delight, and we had a couple of critiques during the afternoon. Since some students were moving pretty fast, a few extra journal pages were created, one on black paper:

I left the afternoon journal page subjects wide open, and some interesting things popped out. There was even gold-leafing (this was done by one of the students, who, at the end of the day, demonstrated for us how to apply the tissue-thin gold)!

Here are some of the products of Day 2. I muffed Kathy's the photo of page -- it came out so blurry I couldn't use it. You can see it in progress here at right. I'm sorry Kathy ~ it was a lovely page, with ferns, pressed plants, and a really excellent creative paragraph.

So here are the second day's masterpieces, minus Kathy's:

Cool, huh? My thanks to the Calligraphers Guild students who made this such a fun class!

And here, as promised to Kate Johnson's online watercolor pencil students, is the wild rock garden south of Bend, Oregon, and the sketch and photo I made there. The mosquitoes were siphoning off my blood as I sketched, so I only got some of the flower heads in before I caved and ran for the car, but I sketched more from the screen of my digital camera the next day. I didn't add them all, as you can see, as the number can be variable and I needed to finish the drawing for class.


winna said...

This soooo interested me (I taught Calligraphy to adults at a high school--not near the fun you had!)...I enjoyed the way you wrote and seeing the day's results---just wonderful. Your page for Kate's class, I remember and love it still.

Pam Johnson Brickell said...

Wonderful, Irene! Good luck with the kids. I always love their imagination once they tune into the subject.

Renie said...

Wow, Winna, I can't even imagine teaching high school. The few times I have given talks to that age group, they've been totally distracted by hormonal issues and hair combing, which kinda gets in the way.......But teaching younger kids and adults, is great. THEY know how to appreciate a new experience.

Pam, the class went very well yesterday -- it was kids 8-12. I didn't admit to my sponsors until afterward that I'd never given the class before. I said ONE Nervous Nelly was plenty -- we didn't need three LOL. But it went fine and I hope to blog it as soon as I get permissions to use the kids' photos on the blog.

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