Say it isn’t so–The End of Cursive

I recently read that in the U.S., cursive is no longer part of the common core state standards that are followed by 45 of the 50 states. Time devoted to the written word and penmanship has been replaced by building technology skills. Maybe I’m old-fashioned (I’m definitely low tech), but I think it’s sad that writing by hand is now considered passé.  Have we evolved to the point where our only handwritten item has become our signature?

Memories in Black and White and Grey

I remember all those years ago, when I first learned how to print. Every few days there was a new letter to be learned, in both lowercase and capitals. We had workbooks with pink and blue lined paper—groupings of 3 lines in fact, to make sure we formed our letters correctly. Then practice, practice, practice. At age 7 or 8 we learned those letters all over again, but this time in cursive, still in pencil, those big fat pencils—do you remember? I can’t forget—those pencils gave me a large bump on my middle finger that still remains to this day.   Seems I was grasping the pencil too tightly.

Pretty soon we were in pursuit of our next goal—writing in ink.  Graduating from pencil to pen was reserved for the neatest writers in class–penmanship, they called it.  Those of us chosen by the teacher to write in ink felt privileged and, oh so grownup.

Old Habits Die Hard

I am the product of my generation.  I recall preparing school assignments, book reports and essays. The method was always the same–first, I began by handwriting notes on lined paper, then editing, either by scratching out, drawing arrows to redirect misplaced paragraphs or coding with numbers or stars. Back then “cut and paste” meant exactly that–employing scissors, tape and extra paper to rearrange and edit.

My method for creating stories, journal entries and blog posts hasn’t changed that much even to this day.     Words tumble from brain to hand to pen to page.  Then stars, numbers and arrows abound before they are transferred to type where percolation and final edits are made.

The Benefits of Writing by Hand

For me, no matter what I write, the mechanics of writing by hand relaxes me.  It forces me to slow down and often can sooth a harried mood.  I believe that I think better and my recall is improved.  I have more focus.

Maybe most important to my love of handwriting is that it allows me to indulge in my passion for pens, paper and notebooks.  My pen collection is quite diverse and all are used.  I have a few caveats–to become part of my pen collection the ink must be black, the point should be fine, although the occasional chisel tip finds its way in. I prefer fat pens over slim ones, in homage to those pencils of long ago.  I guess that’s why I still have that bump on my finger.

The Friday Five — My Pen & Ink Must Haves

tff 3 27 headerThis week I’d like to give you a glimpse into my process by sharing with you a few of my must haves when creating in Pen and Ink.

various papers

1.  Good quality paper  I choose Bristol or Watercolor paper for inking, archival quality and a minimum weight of 90 lbs for bristol and 140 lbs for watercolor.


2. Ink  Because I want my work to be portable—sometimes I want to work outside or offsite—I use pre-filled pens. Ink is permanent, mainly acid free and archival.  Sometimes they’re Sharpies or Staedtler or Micron with various nib sizes for texture and shading.


3. Tools  For my current series featuring geometry and pattern, I enlist my trusty technical drawing compass, shape templates and stencils to draw repeated shapes. I’m currently experimenting with embellishing using small gems.  And then, of course, there is trusty old freehand.


4. Inspiration  My inspiration files include sailor valentine references, magazine clippings of textiles, jewellery, watches and maps as well as small pieces of jewellery.


5. Sketchbooks  Sometimes you just need to loosen up or sketch out a few ideas. I employ various sizes of sketch books and make sure that there’s always a small one with a pen in my handbag for those sudden “AHA” moments.

We all have our “must haves” when it comes to being creative. Tell me, what are yours?

Great Reads — Resources for Creatives

The Artist’s Way & Walking in this World
by Julia Cameron

the Artist's WayI was originally drawn to these 2 books in a quest to unlock or unblock my creative self in terms of my visual art practice. Little did I know that “The Artist’s Way” & “Walking in this World” would slowly awaken a love of writing.
In these 2 volumes, Julia Cameron shares 3 essential, non-negotiable tools and a host of exercises for getting in touch with your creative self.

These 3 tools are

1. The Morning Pages;  2. The Weekly Artist’s Date and,  3. The Weekly Walk.

The exercises outlined in each book are completed over a 12 week period.

walking in this world“The Morning Pages” are 3 handwritten pages of writing whatever comes to mind first think upon wakening—every day. The Morning Pages are not your to do list but a mechanism to siphon off strong or negative feelings that often get in the way of our productive, creative selves. These pages are not to be reviewed, edited, re-read or even shared!

The Morning Pages resonated with me because it’s a lot like my style of writing. At first I throw everything at the page in an unedited, raw, seemingly disjointed way. Paragraphs, grammar and even complete sentences have no place here! The result is a stew of words that is for my eyes only. Carving out time for writing these 3 pages every day turned into journaling, recording ideas for creative projects and eventually short articles and stories. I believe that this daily practice is responsible for the execution of several art pieces and strongly influenced me to bring “L’Inspired Living” into the world.

So, if you want to take baby steps into writing and in the process uncover your authentic voice, or remove creative blocks in another artistic sphere, these two books are an excellent resource. Grab some paper and a pen and just write. Some of it will be great; some OK and a lot just might stink. It’s not for us to judge. As Julia Cameron states “accumulate pages, not judgements”.

Note:  This book review originally appeared in the November 2014 Edition of the L’Inspired Living Newsletter.

The Friday Five – Great Pen & Ink Links

TFF Pens

Join me every Friday when I run down inspiring links and t’ings.  March’s theme is “All Things Ink”.

Previous TFF’s can be seen here.

This week I’m sharing 5 of my favorite links:

1.  Cheeming Boey of Malaysia elevates the lowly styrofoam cup to works of art with his ink drawings.

2.  Doodling, anyone?  View the amazing work of Kerby Rosanes on Behance.  Click on a picture to see the story behind the work.  A couple of my favorites:  Time Guardian and The Gioconda Project. (via Visual News)

3.  Go with the flow.  See how they created the title sequence for Netflix’s Marco Polo series.

4.  Wow!!!  3D Calligraphy Jumps Off the Page (via Visual News)

5.  The Joys of a Real Letter by Michelle Hanton was one of my favorite reads this week.



The Friday Five – Great Pen & Ink Resources

The Friday Five Pen Ink Books Join me every Friday when I run down inspiring links and t’ings.  March’s theme is “All Things Ink”.

Previous TFF’s can be seen here.

Today I’m sharing 5 of my favorite Pen and Ink reference books.  I turn to them time and again for guidance and inspiration.

Rendering in Pen & Ink 60th Anniversary Edition by Arthur L. Guptill

My first purchase, just when I started inking.  Commonly referred to as “The Bible of Pen & Ink”, this book leaves no stone unturned.  More formal in its approach than the others but still a good read.  Gorgeous illustrations will engage professional and amateur alike.

Sketching Your Favorite Subjects in Pen & Ink by Claudia Nice

Excellent coverage of the medium, including tips on materials, techniques, design and composition, perspective.  Helps you develop your drawing skills.  Great gallery of work by some very talented Pen & Ink artists with brief bios.

The Technical Pen – Techniques for Artists by Gary Simmons

Simmons is a self taught artist whose skill grew out of a job requirement.  Lots of info on the medium, great instruction with practice exercises and a fabulous gallery of images.  Inspiring!

And if you want to add a bit of color:

Drawing and Painting Buildings by Richard Taylor

Taylor shares his vast knowledge of drawing, drawing tools, perspective and shading.  Great tips on using pen washes as well as watercolor paints and pencils.

Painting with Watercolor, Pen & Ink by Claudia Nice

One of my favorite authors, a lovely lady and and a wonderful teacher. I was able spend two weekends in her class.  As always, her books contain lots of info on basics and include lots of examples of her fabulous work.  A veritable encyclopedia on the subject written in a conversational tone.

Are there any favorites you think I should add to my list/library?

Welcome to March!

waterlilyblueWelcome to March — I wonder, will the 2015 version be a lion or a lamb?
As we slide out of February and into the third month of 2015, we segue from the theme “Beautiful Words” to “All Things Ink”.
I’m a big lover of all things ink—pens, paper, books, magazines, art, doodles, calligraphy—you name it. Little did I know when I first googled this topic that the top hits are about, YIKE, tattoos! Some truly beautiful tattoo art to be sure, and I’ll share some of that with you on the blog, among other things.

Wishing you a wonderful March filled with brilliant sunshine. Here’s hoping our northern friends emerge shortly from winter’s grip. For those of us in more temperate climes, enjoy those breezes and the cool evenings.

I hope you enjoy this month’s journey into the land of “All Things Ink”.  A big “Thanks” to everyone who visits, hope you’ll stick around!

Coming up in March at L’Inspired Living

Developing Your Creative Practice:
Part IV: The Value of “Me Time”

Featured Creative
As an artist, my medium of choice is–Ink (silly rabbit, of course it is!). This month, I’ll be featuring my artwork as well as posts about my process, my favorite tools and fellow ink artists I admire.

Food for Thought
Say it isn’t So! The End of Cursive.

The Friday Five
Join me every Friday when I run down inspiring links and t’ings dedicated to “All Things Ink”.

All this and more. Please join me!


P.S. I’m also participating in Blogging 101, an online course through WordPress. So in addition to the monthly theme posts, there will be assignment posts as well. Will be putting my creative hat on to mesh the two as much as possible!