Archive for the ‘calligraphy’ Category

November 29, 2018 Modern Calligraphy Workshop in SLC, UT

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I’ve got a Modern Copperplate Calligraphy workshop coming at you in just a couple of short weeks! This workshop is far more intensive than the Pinners program workshops. The class time is 3+ hours (because we usually go over) and limited to 10 students. 

November 29, 2018 | The Write Image | 6-9pm

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

A lot of you have been asking me about my workshops and how they work. We’ll be going through the upper and lowercase fundamentals of my modern script. My modern script has a slant to it, it’s airy, informal, yet elegant. Not only will you learn my style, but you’ll learn classical foundations along the way including, but not limited to: how to properly use, care for and hold the pen, the tools to use and the foundations of readability. 

In the class I take time to demonstrate, then have you try your hand at it while I walk around. I give encouragement, feedback, physical adjustments as needed and answer any questions you may have. This class is great for beginners and “beginnermediate” calligraphers that may have had a self-taught start. No experience is necessary. Lefties are welcome too, I can teach both left- and right-handed, upside-down and backwards. ;)

Above: an example of a student’s practice at one of our workshops. Below: more student practice. 

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

I hope to see you there! Don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions. If you’d like to get on the email list for local workshops, comment below with your email or message me at melissaATmelissaesplinDOTcom (the contact link above is broken :\ ). 

5 Papers for Calligraphy Practice

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Hopefully this helps as you explore calligraphy more. Let me help you even more on your path to making beautiful, readable calligraphy in your own distinctive style. My Modern Calligraphy workshop includes personal coaching to help you along every step of the way with your calligraphy journey and explorations. I have a brush lettering class too! 

Explore handlettering with me at Utah Pinners on Nov 2 at 2:30. To use your promo code, click here and use code ESPLIN for 10% off through GrowTix when you purchase your tickets. Be sure to pre-purchase your kit for bonus goodies!

Not all paper is created equal. Chances are, if you’re just starting out, you may have found some issues with your practice. Or if you’re not a beginner you had issues when you were just starting out. And maybe you’d like to find some new papers to try out!

One of the most frequent questions I get asked is, “What paper do you use?”. That’s a loaded question. For now, let’s talk about practice papers. Read the full post below for all the nitty-gritty details for why I like these papers, or watch the video. :)

 

For the sake of this post, I’m using a Hunt 22 nib and Walnut ink on all papers so you can see how each paper handles ink. Also, never mind the fact that I can’t seem to spell the word “laser” correctly. I don’t know why I always get the ‘s’ and the ‘z’ mixed up with that one. The same papers that work with pointed pen also work with pointed brush. When looking for a good practice paper for both pointed pen/modern calligraphy and pointed brush/brush lettering, look for a smooth surface that allows the writing instrument to glide smoothly across the paper and a paper sturdy enough, or well-enough made that it holds ink without bleeding or feathering. These are my go-to calligraphy papers that I seem to always have on-hand. 

I’m going to go through each paper from most transparent to most opaque and list out each paper’s pros & cons and links (affiliated*) to where to purchase:  

ONION SKIN PAPER

PROS: This paper is very smooth and handles ink beautifully. It’s about as transparent as tracing paper, but without the drawbacks. It’s about $30 for an entire ream (500 sheets), which makes it a great value. You can easily slip guidelines under your paper as pictured above and remove them for scanning or photography. 

CONS: There’s really only one brand and one place (the PaperMill Store) where it’s available (amazon is a LOT more expensive). It doesn’t go through the printer well (but no need with its transparency). I’ve noticed some friends complain it can be a bit too smooth. 

MARKER LAYOUT PAPER

PROS: Marker Layout paper is easily accessible, you can purchase it from just about any craft supply store by the pad. It’s nice you can contain your practice within a pad, and it’s semi-transluscent so you can easily put guidelines underneath as pictured above. It’s okay for scanning, but has a little more tooth to the texture of the paper (that can be a pro or a con). Every marker layout paper brand I’ve tried (Canson, Borden & Riley, Strathmore, etc) has performed consistently. I find I prefer Canson out of this category. 

CONS: At between $9-13 per pad with only 50-80 sheets per pad, this is more expensive than onion skin paper. It comes in 9×12 pads, so you have to cut them down smaller if you’re looking to print on them or to scan them in standard-sized scanners. 

PREMIUM LASER PAPER

PROS: There are many brands of premium laser papers out there, so I keep this pretty generic. Many that I’ve tried have worked great with ink. HP Premium Laser Paper is the most popular of this bunch. I’ve had great luck with Hammermill as well. What to look for: 32lb, Laserjet compatable, premium paper. Regular copy paper will ruin your life. This is probably the most economical and easily sourced option of the lot. You can print guides directly onto this paper.

CONS: It’s more opaque, so you’ll need to use a lightpad or print directly onto your paper with a local or at-home printer. Depending upon the brand you’ve purchased, it may have a bit more of a tooth to it. No worries. Just make sure you’re practicing with a light touch (like you should be doing anyway). 

HAND-LETTERING PAPER

PROS: This paper is a hybrid paper. While it’s still considered a practice paper, the weight and quality of this paper could be used as a finished paper. It’s probably the thickest paper of the lot. It’s incredibly smooth, shows a nice bold line and the ink lays evenly on the paper. This paper handles more liquid media than the other papers of this type, so you can practice with wet ink, thicker downstrokes, experiment with watercolor effects without the paper buckling. This paper comes in larger sizes for larger work. 

CONS: It’s a little harder to source this paper than the others, but it’s worth trying if you’re curious. It’s a thicker paper, requiring a lightpad or really dark guidelines to go underneath the paper. Or, worst case scenario, using a pencil to draw out your guidelines. 

GRIDDED PAPER

PROS: Rhodia graph paper already has gridlines on it!! You can find their dot pad, if grid lines are too much, but I really like the structure of the grid. This paper is beautifully smooth and handles ink like a pro. It’s got a little bit of texture to it, enough to give your pen feedback on where you are on the paper, but not so much that your nib is skipping all over the place. Grid lines are 5mm apart

The Engrosser’s Pad from John Neal is also great (make sure to purchase the one labeled “engrosser’s pad” if you’re doing pointed pen), it also includes 55º angle lines for keeping angle lines consistent. The grid markers are quite small at just over 3mm (1/8th inch), so it can be a little harder to keep track of the sizing if you’re going for a larger scale. 

CONS: If you get the Rhodia ICE pad, the grids come in a light grey, which means you can’t scan out the grid lines if you’re digitizing your work. It’s a premium paper (from a French company, so regal ;)), so it comes at a premium price. Thankfully, with the rise of calligraphy and lettering in popularity, the pricing and availability for these pads has become more accessible. The regular orange Rhodia pads have a blue grid that can be photoshopped out, but it’s a little tricky. 

 

Hopefully this helps as you explore calligraphy more. Let me help you even more on your path to making beautiful, readable calligraphy in your own distinctive style. My Modern Calligraphy workshop includes personal coaching to help you along every step of the way with your calligraphy journey and explorations. I have a brush lettering class too! 

Art Supply Organizers + Process Video

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A few weeks ago, a neighbor of mine dropped these art supply boxes off and asked me to personalize them with her grandchildren’s names on them. Easy, right? 

They’re un-finished, which gave me a world of options for how to personalize them. Do I paint and lacquer them? Do I make vinyl decals? Ultimately I knew I wanted these boxes to be heirlooms; treasures for these kids to have forever to remind them of their awesome grandma. After all, I’m a huge sucker for sentimentality. My grandparents supported my artistic side when I was a child, so this really struck the right chord. 

I did a little bit of brainstorming and my assistant Hayley (she’s the best), suggested I get the wood burning tools out! Of course! It’s permanent, doesn’t need to be lacquered and relatively quick to do. I love when I get a win like that. Here’s what I used: 

Watch the video above to see the process from beginning to end for both of them, but let me walk you through it here, too. 

I lightly sketched out my design using the white charcoal pencil (erased any stray lines as needed) and allowed my wood burning tool to warm up. I put it on just shy of the hottest setting. I originally started it out at a low setting, but it just wasn’t getting uniform lines. The uniformity in the lines was an issue throughout this project, and I think it’s a limitation of the burning tool in general. It’s a very entry-level tool, so it’s bound to have it’s drawbacks. 

From the videos I’ve watched on pyrography (they’re quite dry, wow) and my own personal experience; I found that the screw-on “nibs” don’t heat up as uniformly as the nibs that are built in to the pyrography tool. FYI: pyrography is a fancy word for wood-burning. ;) That said, this tool is priced in the mid $30s. Whereas the next level in pyrography tools jumps up to the $170s+. It’s a pretty big financial commitment to get the next level up, so there’s that. I won’t likely be upgrading my set up any time soon as I’m only ever getting it out every 6 months or so. 

I followed along my drawn lines, but the nib kept cooling down considerably because of the debris it would pick up in the burning process. I ended up getting a scratch piece of wood to help clean it off every once in a while. That helped me achieve cleaner lines once I figured that one out. 

As far as style inspiration goes, Ella is quite a girly-girl. I added girly flourishes and embellishments to the already traditional style for an elegant “princess” look. Liam is a fun-loving boy, so I made his more of a whimsical foundational style. 

I feel like I do some of the same things day in day out, so this was a nice little challenge and switch up from the norm! Have you ever tried pyrography before?

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Sakura CAC Neons & Metallics Review

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Hey friends!! Welcome here. I’ve got 3 upcoming workshops this summer (more in the works, fingers crossed). I hope to see you there!

Beginning Brush Lettering Workshop | DRAPER, UT | JULY 19

Learn brush lettering based on more traditional foundations and how to manipulate those foundations to write some funky letters! All skill levels welcome, but it is geared more toward beginners. Lefties welcome!

Eventbrite - July 19 Brush Lettering Calligraphy Workshop

 

Penmanship Workshop | PROVO, UT | AUGUST 16

Learn the art of beautiful penmanship and how to harness your own style to tell your story. This is perfect for beginners, lefties and future brides! We’ll go through foundations, style and how to address an envelope. 

Eventbrite - Beginning Cursive Penmanship & Letter Writing Night

 

2-Day Brush Lettering/Digitization Intensive | NASHVILLE, TN | AUG 25-26

Join me in Nashville for a whole lot of fun with a 2-day lettering intensive with the pointed brush. We’ll dig deeper than in any other class in the two days. We’ll go letter-by-letter through variant options, work on word and compositional structure and style structure. At the end of the class, we’ll work on the beginning essentials of digitization by making our own personalized stamps with our artwork. All skill levels welcome. 

Paperinkarts - brush lettering event august 2018

I hope I can see you at one of the above workshops this summer. We always have a blast and I try to pack as much information as possible so you leave the workshop motivated, empowered and ready to continue your calligraphy journey.

Sakura sent me their BRAND-NEW CAC (Creative Art Colors) 24 pan watercolor set to play around with. It’s just like their regular 24 pan field sketch set, but with nothing but neons, metallics and pearlescent colors. Uhhhhhhmmmmmmm yes please! I love how bright these pigments are and it’s a real pity that they’re not captured fully with these photos. The colors just JUMP off the page. So I made a review video (above). Give it a watch or you can scroll down below to see the pros and cons list:

Pros:

  • SUUUPER bright pigments
  • Smooth blending (even with regular colors)
  • Zero chalkiness
  • Portable size palette
  • Generous wells for mixing pigments
  • Shimmery pearlescents

Cons:

  • Student grade
  • Not lightfast
  • Metallics not opaque

I feel like I need to give explanation to the cons. It’s a bummer they’re student grade and not artist or professional grade, but they out-perform any student grade pigments I have in my studio as if they were artist grade. So bummer, but not a deal breaker.

The neons especially aren’t lightfast at all. But you’re not going to find light-fast neons anyway. Just be aware that they’re not lightfast so you’re not displaying your work where it gets direct sunlight.

I personally like more opaque metallics. Don’t get me wrong, these metallics are beautiful, but if you’re going to try and do fine linework like use the pointed pen with the metallics, you’re not going to get the opacity you need to get the metallic to jump off the page. You’ll want to switch over to the pearlescent pigments for pointed pen linework. The pearlescents have watercolor pigment and metallic in them so the pigment soaks into the page while the metallic shimmers at the top of the page. It’s lovely.

Overall: I really love these watercolors! They’re really great! I hope you give them a try some time.

I’ve been using the medium waterbrush that came with the kit, but then also adding in fun details with the Gillott 404 to bring in those finer details. It’s a lot of fun to bridge the gap of brush lettering and pointed pen modern calligraphy with this neon set. Overall, I’m a fan. 

Sakura of America provided me with the materials for this review. All opinions are my own. Affiliate links are used, your support by purchasing through these links supports more content like this! 

Real-Time Calligraphy Video | Families Are Everything

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I’m not one to really get into the politics of things on here or anywhere on social media; after all, I find that language gets mis-interpreted and real communication tends to break down in a format as impersonal as online. But I’ve felt strongly the need to say that family is THE most important thing. We need family (whatever form that takes on for you) spiritually, physically, mentally– in all the ways. 

Throughout history, nations and civilizations fell with the crumbling of family. So for the first time ever, I called my representatives and made my voice heard (find yours here). For the first time ever!! If you know me, you know I HATE making phone calls. I know an executive order was signed to help alleviate the issue of families being separated, but this issue is far from over. 

It’s not about political alignment here. It’s about family. We are stronger together. 

 

Stepping off the soap box now. I penned the above video with:

Let me know if you have questions about the materials used or my process. If you’d like to learn more about calligraphy, I’d suggest taking one of my online classes (listed above in tools section)! I include personal coaching so you get a very one-on-one approach. :) 

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