Walk with the Dreamers

Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful… This sentiment appealed to me long before the need to stay positive in the face of a global pandemic. But it’s worth rereading and reminding myself, nonetheless, and I hope you find it sound advice too. Usually I don’t have time for illuminated letters and lavish decoration in my journal, but a rainy Sunday seemed like the perfect time to work on something highly detailed.

Tips and Techniques– There are so many beautiful illuminated manuscripts that you can use as reference for elaborate borders and text. Try a quick Internet search for images (“illuminated manuscripts”) and you’ll be lost for hours looking at letters and borders and wondering how anyone ever created such masterpieces by candlelight. I sketched this border in pencil and painted it in gouache. The gold is ink, painted on the page. I wrote the first sentence of text with a stub-nib Pilot Metropolitan fountain pen and the rest with a regular nib. You could use a dip pen, if you prefer. My favorite books for calligraphy:

The Art of Calligraphy, A practical guide to the skills and techniques by David Harris
The Bible of Illuminated Letters by Margaret Morgan
The Speedball Textbook (I have the 22nd edition, but current edition is very similar)

Hummingbird Muse

Hummingbirds continue to be my muse this week, with a focus on living birds, instead of trying to bring dead ones to life (Bringing Hummingbirds to Life). Since these little gems won’t return to the northeast for another two-and-a-half months, I watched a video on Explore.org for reference. I also swapped my usual set of watercolor paints here for gouache, which is an opaque watercolor paint that can be layered light on dark.

Tips and Techniques– I wanted to try gouache without a big investment, so I bought Windsor & Newton’s Primary Color Set (primary red, yellow, and blue, black, and white). This meant lots of color mixing, which was good. I don’t have much experience with gouache, so it took a lot of trial and error to figure out how to get the right consistency, as well as how to use white and black (something I never do with transparent watercolor). Although the new medium tested me, it also stretched my thinking. I’ve started a second hummingbird nest painting and I’m eager to keep learning.