Graphic botanicals

One of the plants we brought home to New Jersey from my mother’s collection was an heirloom Angelwing Begonia. Mom got her plant as a cutting from one of her mother’s plants, and there seems to be some family lore that suggests Grandma got it from her mother. I think the Angelwing Begonia was first hybridized around 1926, so that could be about right to support the oral tradition. Mom had propagated numerous cuttings of her original plant, and after she died, my brother was trying to make sure everyone knew where they came from, and to send a plant home with each member of the family. Recently I was using this plant as a model for my continuing study of botanical art, sketching with colored pencils. After I sketched the plant, I was playing around with the word “Angelwing” with my brush, and decided I’d like to combine the sketch with the lettering. Here’s the current layout:

If you have thoughts about other ways to combine these two elements, I’d welcome your comments!

Cold water

This was the callidoodle for the week, as it found its way into my notebook:

The original version was a pencil sketch, and didn’t include the full verse, as the pastor was through the sermon before I finished my sketching. I took the sketch home and re-did it in my sketchbook, using pencil, colored pencils, and a 005 Micron pen.

Having lost my mother in April, I couldn’t help but think of all the cups of water, kindnesses, and love, large and small, that she showed me throughout our lives together. As we’ve been cleaning out her house, we discovered that she had saved every letter and card that any of us had ever sent to her. We haven’t gotten around to reading them all, but it’s been a blessing to us – so much of the details of our lives 40 years ago had faded away into the recesses of my memory. I hope she felt loved as we shared them with her.

Pencil Gestures

Last week I received my copy of Yves Leterme’s new book, Thoughtful Gestures, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading it. I met Yves a couple of years back when he was teaching a class at a Camp Cheerio Calligraphy Workshop (I was in the other class, taught by Denis Brown), and I really resonated with the work he was doing and the work his students were producing. So for the past week or so, I’ve been playing around with gestural writing, trying to get more of a free feel to my work. A lot of my practice has been with a pointed brush and sumi ink, but as usual when I’m playing with something new, I also have done a lot of pencil work. Here’s an example, using graphite and colored pencils:


Yves talks a lot in his book about his process of working with gesso, and how he will often wash things off and re-work and paint over portions of the piece as it develops. In the piece above, I did something similar by overwriting, smudging, and erasing. I want to continue to experiment with this process, and try the gesso process as well. More to come, I hope.