Sunday, April 23, 2017

Reggimented Sunday

Another assignment was to "make an alphabet of 'Plain Romans', broad-edge, 1 inch tall, black gouache on grid, touch-up, paste-up reproduce to make an exemplar. Use a Speedball C-2 nib"

This assignment caused me much anxiety, and I ended up procrastinating until I ran out of time. I didn't quite get to the touch-up, and paste-up part. And of course, CJ didn't read the assignment thoroughly so instead of black gouache, I used blue.

I wrote out a few of each letter on a grid pad. Then I chose the best letter, cut it out and arranged it on a waxed grid.

Instead of arranging the letters in A to Z order, I arranged them in the sequence Reggie suggested for practice.  I pulled the C from the G line and the J from the U line to sign my work.

From Reggie: "Always start at a point where you can give yourself the opportunity for the most success and encouragement. Do not start with the hardest first and defeat yourself. We all need as many confidence builders as possible when attempting anything new. Roman Capitals are the most humbling letterforms you will every try. Be patient and give yourself opportunities to succeed."

I should have read that statement a dozen times instead of giving in to the negative whispers of the inner critic. I should have just done the work instead of worrying what my Roman looked like. I shouldn't have been comparing my fledgling efforts to others in the class, especially classmates who have taken this course before.

I was pleased and relieved when I finished the assignment. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but some of the letters aren't half bad. After all, if I could do these letterforms in my sleep, what would be the point of taking this class?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reggimented Saturday

Studiomate, Ben Dover, tries his hand at the assignment
This weekend is another Reggie weekend so I will be up to my elbows in gouache, ink, and gold.

One of our homework assignments had to do with spacing. Spacing can effect mood. During class, we cut out letters from Hermann Zapf's typeface, Palatino. We had our choice of two words. Calligraphy or Languidly. I chose languidly. Our assignment was to create an image with tight spacing and then with wide spacing on an interesting background.

I chose languidly because I have a picture of Ink taking a nap on our old chair in the sunroom. It was hot that day, and Ink had just melted into the cushion. I thought this was the perfect definition of languidly and used tight spacing.

For wide spacing, I thought languidly on an ocean background would work. While trolling images, I found one of a string of seagulls dipping and swooping over the ocean. Through the magic of Paint Shop Pro, I replaced the seagulls with the letters to spell languidly. I tipped the L and added a dot to represent a person just floating languidly in the ocean. Using the clone tool, I added water splashing over the letters and a drop shadow so the letters would look like they were in the picture and not just on the surface. The shadow effect looked better in my head, but the gist is there.

I liked this assignment. It was one of the few assignments I approached with confidence. I enjoy playing around with images in Paint Shop Pro so I could have some fun and enjoyment with this assignment.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. The sunroom is open for the season!

2. Breakfast in the sunroom. Lots of activity at the feeder. Lots of birds, the male cardinal, and Timex sat in the hatch and stuffed his face. A robin had a splash in the bird bath and a squirrel took a drink too.

3. Watched the first episode of the new season of Doctor Who.

4. Made Easter egg bread and the traditional roast leg of lamb. Was such a warm day we had dinner in the sunroom

5. Met the New Girl, and her Little Girl. Brought a plant and a crochet panda, for the Little Girl. Asked a favor, if the lawn service could park his equipment in her driveway when he came to mow my lawn like he used to when he mowed Prissy's lawn. No problem. New Girl showed me the inside of the house. Prissy wouldn't recognize it. The wood floors were refinished. The kitchen was remodeled. Beautiful! I told her there were happy memories in the house, and I hoped she would be happy there, too.

The Little Girl gave me some stickers, a picture, and some fairy dust (dirt and gravel from the driveway)

How was your week?

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Throwback Thursdays - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

My father also took me with him on weekends when he went to visit his sister or his relations in the Boston area. He did not do this with my brothers or sisters.

At the time, they may have been too young and things would change as time moved on into the Depression. Those were halcyon days for me. On my birthdays, my mother's uncle Zio Francisco, who was blind, was brought by a member of his family, my cousin, to our home, early and came back in the afternoon to take him home. They came by streetcar [ed: can't make out the rest of the sentence]. He was an Italian pastry chef baker and he came to make pastry for my birthday. I cannot recall how many time he came. It was a number of times.

My mother would put the board on the table, set the flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, and other things on the table and then she would help him up and he would be at the center of the table. She would take his hand and at his direction place it as he directed on the flour, sugar, eggs, etc. He would then start with what would be called the piece de resistance. The birthday cake. He would mix the ingredients he would need to make the different filling for the cake.

My mother would then put these on the stove, turn the gas on, and her uncle would then mix whatever was needed to make the filling for the different layers of the cake which would become the chocolate, the cream, etc.

While doing these things, he would have my mother stirring the chocolate cream etc. until it reached the right consistency. He would ask my mother if she felt that the right thickness had arrived. And if she said yes she helped him to the stove he would make his test. Had her set the filling aside to cool, check the sponge cake layers and continue with the Paragini, Cannoli, Biscotti.

The birthday cake was a 3 layer cake with different layers, lemon layer, chocolate layer, etc. It was the same size as the board. Paragini, cannoli, biscotti and other sweets some made to go with wine. When he was through, his nephew would come and take him home.They would not stay. The affair would start after our dinner. And at a certain hour, there would be some noise in the hallway followed by instruments playing. My father would open the door and in would march five men playing trumpet, violin, guitar, etc. Playing Happy Birthday followed by the guests. In retrospect, the guests were all adults none of my friends or playmates were present.

Now my birthday falls on St. Patrick's Day. And when I was old enough to read, I learned of the parade in South Boston and who marched. Being a child I thought it was being held for me. And wondered why I didn't attend. At one event I stated that the parade was for me and that's where I found out it was and like all kids who are not grown up, I objected and hought it was unfair I should have been asked to be the honoree. As time passed my thought were that the [ed: birthday] celebration was for my father, which I later associated with a statement he made when I was somewhere in my thirties or early forties.

[ed: The statement had to have been made when Dad was in his 30s. His father died in 1954 and Dad would have been 35 years old. March was a big birthday month for Dad's family. It would have made sense to have a big birthday bash to celebrate all the March birthdays: Zia Angelina, 3/12, Dad, 3/17, Dad's father, Achille, 3/22, Uncle Joe, 3/24, Uncle Vincent 3/29, and Auntie Filomena 3/31.

Dad mentions the fact that his father never took his other children with him on visiting rounds. Dad had told me the reason he was always with his father was as the first born, he was the heir apparent, If anything happened to his father, he would have been expected to leave school, get a job and support the family. Being with his father was an education in familial obligations. My Uncle Bob, Dad's youngest brother, used to joke even though the family was too poor to afford a crown, the siblings all knew who was the Crown Prince.]

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

T Stands For Tiggy

My teacup when Ma and I had tea
I've known my friend, Tiggy, for some 20 odd years. We have never met in person. We met in an old IRC chatroom for calligraphers. Tiggy got her nickname from her love of hedgehogs and Beatrix Potter's hedgehog character, Mrs. Tiggywinkle.

At the time we met, my girlies were little. The Eldest had to do a social studies presentation and her country was Scotland. Tiggy sent all sorts of trinkets, tartan hair ribbons, pamphlets and helped with facts. Four years later, the Young One used Scotland in her presentation.

Recently, Tiggy has had some health issues and has been going through a rough patch. I wanted to send something to her to cheer her up. I found a crochet pattern for a hedgehog applique. The instructions stated the larger the crochet hook, the larger the applique. I used the largest hook I had, a size K. I thought the size would make some cute coasters. I sent a note to Tiggy I made four coasters. One for her, her husband, and her son when he visited. The fourth coaster was mine when I visit. (An item on my bucket list). Of course, I graciously gave her permission to use the fourth coaster when she has company that drops by for tea.

Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang are up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Humble Pie

There is a lot of homework in the year-long class. One of the homework assignments involved two parts. The first part was to mix gouache to paint a color wheel. Part two was to use one of the colors with 2 tints and 2 shades to letter the poem Do It Anyway attributed to Mother Teresa. We could also choose our own text as long as it was about the same length. We were to letter the poem in Basic Romans on a sheet of Arches 90 lb watercolor paper with a Speedball B2 nib. The letters were to be 1/2 inch in height with 1/8 inch interlinear space. The letters were to be packed tightly and the color gradation would enable the reader to read the text clearly.

I had great difficulty with this assignment. Mostly figuring out how to use the spoon-shaped B nib. I was also having a tough time getting the gouache the right consistency, like light cream, to flow through the pen.

In the olden days, I would have struggled to complete the assignment as instructed. I would have ended up unhappy and frustrated with my efforts. But with age comes the wisdom that a student should get some value out of homework. Not just to mimic what the instructor did in class.

What did I need to get out of this assignment? I really needed to figure out how to manipulate the B pen. Rather than bother with the gouache, I used a bottle of Winsor Newton Blue ink to letter The Beatitudes 

As Reggie said, Roman letters are very humbling. There is a precision to them and the shape and width of the letters adhere to strict rules.It's like going back to first grade. Very humble, indeed, but I'm also pleased with my first efforts, warts and all.