Advent Day Twenty

Advent Day Twenty, Q. Cassetti, 2011, pen and inkKitty and Rob come home from New York City today. I had a nice chat with Kitty about her relief in gettting the semester done and the fever done. She has had a flubug. We are looking forward to her time here.

Alex, Elly and I had a little time yesterday evening with Alex playing music from his computer featuring an artist Boniver…and dancing in a very cute and funny way. We are nosing the applications along…with hopefully some closure in the next week. Wouldnt that be amazing?

Tucker is here trying to make a little money for the next semester. He is stacking wood, raking etc. with such happiness bringing lots of chit chat and a big appetite (so going to the store is going to be central to the holidays). Mandy just poked her head in…to say hi. She will be here tomorrow—so there will have to be a big, inexpensive lunch (like pancakes?).

I bought a bunch of synthetic, cheap round brushes this Sunday at AC Moore. I was beginning to do some fill work with ink (not the wonderful Pentel Pocket Brush Pen) and found that the watercolor, sable brushes I have were way too wiggly, too long, too fluid…and what I wanted was something a bit stiffer, bit shorter and in a few sizes to do the big stuff and try to do the pointy stuff too. So, I bought these brushes and discovered (at least with these “Majestic” Royal and Langnickel)  there is a range of play/ stiffness in acrylic brushes. And you know, I think I can work it out from here. I tried two of them out this morning to pretty good success with my most favorite, rich carbon inks, Dr Marten’s Black Star matte ink. However, this is not the most fluid…so I may try using Noodlers this evening just to see what the difference might be. Either way, ink on Moleskine watercolor paper is divine. Love how the ink just works with this lovely rich paper.

Another nice thing to muse over is this remarkable book I discovered, The Liber Floridus. What is the Liber Floridus? The site says: “The Liber Floridus (”Book of Flowers”) is an encyclopedia compiled in the early twelfth century by Lambert, canon of the Church of Our Lady in St Omer. The Ghent University Library possesses the autograph of this work, i.e. the actual copy scribed by the author himself. Illustrated autographs of twelfth-century encyclopedias are so rare that this manuscript is now protected by the Flemish Community’s Decree on the acquisition and protection of rare or exceptional movable patrimony.”

A medieval encylopedia! There are some great architecture pix that I plan on learning from, in addition to some insane lettering (above). I am taken with a few styling things…the way the line is handled…So  you probably will hear more about this Belgian book, The Liber Floridus.

Summer Song

Goldfish, Q. Cassetti, Pen and Ink, 2008Yesterday was restful. There was swimming, pizza making, drawing and new revelations. I needed a day or two to make my brain stop…(I cannot sing the praises of clear thinking after a nap…so much so I would love to have an hour everyday as it has been producing eureka moments). Did a little drawing…lubki style and was reflecting on an approach I was working with two years ago with the childrens book project I did sketches with the Lewins (see goldfish to the side).

I am going to do some drawings/ constructions along this line as its an idea worth developing and offers me a few more tricks. After thinking about that….I thought about how Arnold Bank would teach us calligraphic “hands”. There was a distinct process to test one’s knowledge and mastery/design with these letterforms.

We would learn the letterforms from the measure and scale of the letters based on the pen or tool width, and stroke. We would create letter necklaces with pen exercises to drive consistency and accurate line and letterspacing. Once we had the letterforms and variations internalized, we had to create a large, medium and small application of single letters, phrases/mottos, with and without illustration. We also had to do a small book/or document with more than 20 lines of text size lettering. It took between 4-6 months just to do this work…Poppy, Q. Cassetti, Pen and Ink, 2008but once it was done, it was understood, committed to memory and hand, integrated into one’s personal design approach. If we took this discipline and applied it to the various illustration “hands” or styles—working small, medium and large, portraits, landscapes, animals, likenesses, patterns =then this approach is best integrated into my thinking.

So, this simple, graphic approach is something I am going to pick up the pen and work up some illustrations in this mode.  Positive and negative, big fields of flat color. Keeping it linear and shapes. Maybe not matching up…Worth taking this around the block. I did something for the Cayuga Blue Notes and though its okay, I am not loving it. I am liking this applied to the Bass Box, Guitar, Slide Guitar and Harmonica…Could feel fresh and difference. We’ll see.

getting going

School One Act plays were great. I was very much the proud mama with our Kitty being the ham she is able to be with great confidence and aplomb. It was a very fun evening with people laughing in the right spots--and no perceived forgotten lines. Matt P. took the audience with him with his very funny roles of a mourner in a funeral and as Medea's husband (complete in toga, black socks and shoes, plastic breastplate and helmet with a plume). Alex looked tall and elegant in his suit as one of the mourners at the funeral (in the funeral play).

I decided that I would lean on to teach InDesign to the class at the High School. We watched 5 video clips (I learned quite a bit) and was happily surprised that the students seemed to glom onto these lessons. Onward. Feeling brave, I came home to InDesign and taught myself how to port Microsoft Xcel spreadsheets into an InDesign file to dress it up and make it look more designed. Surprisingly, not hard--but not a sure bet the first time out. But, I did it and more tool in the toolbox. Next step, can I format the type etc. in InDesign so when I import the file, it will be immediately formatted within the type frame? Wouldn't that be total slickness? I think so.

Illustration wise I am betwixt and between. I have entered the Society of Illustrators Show in NYC, the same in LA (did I mention I am now a member?). Communications Arts I need to check the deadlines as this is a good one too. The new Creative Quarterly should be out soon--so a bunch of my stuff should be there too. I will post the link to the page of the pieces that did not get into the printed piece. I have 3 out of the 5 Hangar Theater posters done....need to get the other two : 39 Steps and The Piano Lesson done. One is typographic, the other illustration (a double portrait, I think). Got Bethnal Green done (you saw it this week) . I am also doing a bunch of little odds and ends for others who have things out there. All gratis of course. But in the cracks, I am working on an illustration of a lady riding a rooster (a partner to the little man riding the horse in the Fraktur work). I was thinking about the imagery and type that these Pennsylvania Germans use and putting the hat on of that wonderful artist , whose name escapes me, who creates these full sized vignettes of colonial people beautifully dressed in colonial garb made out of african kente cloth. He takes one idea and just twists it a bit to make it evolve to a new, fresh message. I like the idea of these little colonial people doing ordinary things...but evolving to less ordinary and more modern or whimiscal things. I like the idea of taking the birth and death, marriage and house blessings and twisting it with modern phrases and words. I like the idea of keeping a simple palette and taking the imagery to another place. Must mull on that.

I am fascinated by being fifty. It seems that many of my friends and acquaintances are all changing their thinking to change their lives to do what they really want to do, to pursue their bliss, to take all that they know and love and spend time doing it. Its interesting as so many are opting for more creativity in their lives for a bit less in the paycheck. These are folks with jobs, often good paying jobs with benefits and vacations and perks....but somehow crossing fifty with many of their obligations of family winding down with kids going to college or even kids having kids, that the measure of their lives, how they spend their time, and the second career or chapter seems to be something open to them. The prospect of the new vista with more time is charging people to regard themselves, their community and their role in that community with new energy and focus. It is an interesting thing to have these boomers focus their trained brains on a new place. Life should be richer for all of us. It's pretty exciting to be on the front end of many of their thoughts, thinking and plans. I view myself as blessed.

Rob is home at one. I have to order my new favorite thing for cast parties --italian subs, hold the dressing. These babies are scarfed down in short order--and all I have to do is pick them up. Another key to these treats working, -- they are cut into little 3" its enough, but low High School waste factors. We have more play today along with a cast party. I am opening up boxes of things I have ordered for Christmas and starting to wrap. But you were the first folks on my list as I have been remiss in our chats.

tomorrow, then...if not sooner!

Armin Hofmann

I have been cruising some vintage poster sites to find the right example of a point I want to make and buzzed through these wonderful Armin Hofmann posters. Don't you love the type (I think it is hand lettering)-- and the bold images? I do. Very period. very swiss. But, love it.

And before I forget it...I havent extolled my favorite of all favorite digital art suppply folks...Digital Art Supply>>. These guys are great. They have a wide range of papers (I like their "brand" of Epson Enhanced Matte called DAS matte paper). They have great prices on the big Epson (220 ml) good that even though it smarts when you do is still possible to keep a set in the closet while you are working off a set). They offer courses, technical help beyond the terrific product they are offer. I am testing a little roll (5") of a cranes paper which cost around $13. for a little test balloon.
Love these guys. Give em a holler.

Palmer Pen Method

Meet Mr. A. N. Palmer:
A. N. Palmer, handwriting expert, standing outdoors

Chicago Daily News negatives collection, DN-0056081. Courtesy of the Chicago Historical Society. SUMMARY: Half-length portrait of A. N. Palmer, handwriting expert, standing outside a building in Chicago, Illinois. Mr. Palmer developed a new method of handwriting that was adopted by the board of education for instruction in Chicago schools. NOTES: This photonegative taken by a Chicago Daily News photographer may have been published in the newspaper. SOURCE: American Memory, Library of Congress. TAGS: palmer handwriting chicago 1910

Can you say grumpy? I would be too. The Palmer Pen Method is torture and this dude definitely looks like he lives in the world of black and white....with perfect loops to match!

More on Mr. Palmer's Vision through his publication, The Penman>>

and a great website on archaic pen nibs, calligraphic supplies et cetera>>

Live from the land of the obtuse!