Calligraphy and craft love

November 23, 2007

Yesterday while I was working on a lettering commission  I was struck by an intense love for the work. Granted, conditions were optimal; the studio was sunny and I had a day of uninterrupted time ahead of me to settle into what I was doing. But it has been awhile since I’ve had such a strong feeling of peace and gratitude for being able to exercise my craft (and get paid for it). 

 The joy came in part from a job going well.  As I formed each letter, it was a delight to feel the intuitive knowledge gained over 35 years experience -the sense of how to shape a curve on the inside of an o, or give the turn at the end of an N just that extra tension to make it sing.

These letters will be transferred onto a piece of granite and carved into a gravestone by my stone-carver friend Bertus
While I work, I have a picture in front of me of the robust man who died in the prime of life. I feel his presence, it is gentle and humorous.

I feel, too, the spirit of my master and teacher, Arnold Bank, one of the larger than life heroes of modern calligraphic tradition. I send him gratitude for taking my wild and immature love of letters and taming and honing it. I went through fire with him until I came out tempered.

There is so much potential for healing in practicing a craft well. The satisfaction in seeing one’s skill progress, in facing down obstacles along the way, in getting a job done to one’s own standards, regardless of the hours spent. In the quiet of my studio yesterday with just me and my hands and heart and the letters, I rediscovered some of the joy and purity I first felt in shaping the letters for the first time in Pittsburgh nearly 40 years ago.

My creative heart

November 18, 2007


Photo by Rende Zoutewelle

Well, it has been awhile, is anyone still listening?

This photo captures the feeling of stillness I sometimes long for and would like to have at the heart of my daily life.

I’ve quit my volunteer job at the nursing home, primarily because my free-lance work has increased exponentially.

But I have also been feeling the need to pull back from most of my external pursuits to reassess my direction and take stock.

I went on a 4 day solo vacation to a small farm B&B where I had a clean, empty, quiet little apartment to live in.
It had a sleeping loft where at night I could hear the cows across the farmyard lowing and shifting in their metal stalls.
I came slowly back to myself, and retrieved my trust in my own truth and tempo.

Even returning to a full workload, I have managed to retain this sense of peace.

I feel no compulsion to keep this blog, update my website or do anything other than what feels right. The work at hand, keeping house, decluttering, reflecting, thinking, being with friends. Sharing here when it feels appropriate.

I have started working with  the ‘Vein of Gold, a journey to your creative heart’, by Julia Cameron. Because with all this focus on business, my artist child has been sadly neglected, and I feel the consequences in reduced energy and inspiration levels. I feel that art is my source and my way, and everything else needs to take a less important role for now.