I’ve been keeping busy with a lot of little things and it’s been so fun! I’ve talked a lot about the tension between creativity and business, and trying to sort out priorities, and with the way things have been going lately I’m wondering if I have been focused a little too intently on the business side of things.

I spend a few hours every couple of months putting together a newsletter for the Peace-Liard Regional Arts Council, and yesterday I spent some time on the phone with local artist Mike Kroecher. Mike used two phrases to describe his approach to art that I wouldn’t have thought could live in harmony – painting seriously and hobby.

The thing about hobbies is, they are personal gratification-oriented. We choose our hobbies for the pleasure we find in them. Doesn’t mean we don’t challenge ourselves, or grow in skill, but ideally it should divorce us from being overly aware of outside opinion.

Do what you love, and the money will follow? Not necessarily, but hopefully if we do what we love, we won’t care what follows.

I discovered The Graceful Envelope Contest on the weekend, and spent a couple days practicing my calligraphy and designing an envelope. No prize money up for grabs, but I entered because I though it would be fun – and it was. I am going to embellish my design with a little silver ink and then send it off. I’ll post the finished product after the contest is judged.

I had fun with the calligraphy – though I find it far easier to letter with a brush than a pen – that’s the painter in me, I guess. I’m also left-handed, and the books say that lefties have a harder time doing calligraphy – though it is possible. The illustrations for lefthanders don’t help me either, because I am not one of those lefties that curls my hand over the top of the page. I generally just focus on holding the pen at the correct angle, and turn the paper to help achieve the right effect. One of the calligraphy books I got from the library featured art by Canadian calligraphers, and I was delighted to see several pieces by a local calligrapher that I have had the pleasure of meeting, Judith Bain Dampier.

I love using a dip pen, and I used a dip pen and sepia ink to letter this scratchy alphabet. Finished off with a wash of watercolor. I really should have used different paper, as the sketchbook I was using tended to absorb the ink and bleed a bit. I followed that with the Signs of Spring design at the top of this post. I used a brush and watercolor for the whole thing, and then outlined with a .05mm pigment pen. The entire morning passed while I sat at the breakfast table, playing with letters.

I should have known calligraphy would be this entertaining – I have always loved improving my handwriting, and finding the most elegant way to sign my name. I was thrilled to take my husband’s last name when I married, because I had never been able to write a capital R that satisfied me (my maiden name is Rempel)!