Category Archives: Calligraphy

Chalkboard Lettering

Hello and happy Friday! It has been quite a long time since I have posted new work. I do have something I can blame for this: graduate school. The last year has been manic; I have taken full course loads for each semester, and I have only short breaks between semesters. This has sadly left me very little time to do artwork, let alone any freelance work. Unfortunately, I’ve had to turn away freelance work, which is something I really do not like to do. I’m hoping I can have some time in my last year of grad school to do some freelance work. If not, well, it will have to wait until summer 2017 (when I graduate)!

I had the opportunity to do some quick chalkboard lettering for work. I designed a “grab a prop” sign for a photo setup on campus, and I designed a sign that illustrates what my department does (for student orientation). It was a fun opportunity, and I hope I have more chances to do this in the future!

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One fun fact about chalkboard lettering: it is very difficult to add any sort of detail with a blunt piece of chalk. I also spent a significant amount of time huffing and puffing all of the chalk dust that accumulated on the work space. But, I discovered how helpful it is to blend colors with your fingertips – it was like being a kid all over again!

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I will be back soon with more recent work!

-Anne

Valentine’s Day Card: Moon & Stars

Every year, I try to do a little personal Valentine’s Day card on time. It almost never works out. I always start too late on them, and barely finish them in time for the holiday. I’m lucky if I’m able to send a handful. I have my ideas and sketches done way ahead of time, I just can’t get them finished, printed and mailed. So this year I’m doing something a little different.

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I’m going to design a card just to give to my sweetheart. My husband is not mushy or sentimental, and I don’t think he would really like the “you’re the peanut butter to my jelly,” offbeat Valentine’s Day cards. Over the years I have seen some interesting valentines, but a lot of them are what he would describe as “twee hipster silliness,” and I would have to agree. It’s difficult to find a valentine that is short and sweet, funny or actually heartfelt. Sometimes modern cards feel too forced, awkward, or “ironic.” So this year, I’m taking an inside joke from the both of us and turning it on its head.

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So when we first started dating, I jokingly asked my husband, “How much do you love me? More than the moon and the stars?” And he laughed and said that was an absurd question, because he didn’t really have feelings for the moon and the stars. It became a sort of “romantic comedy” absurd phrase we’d say when we were joking around. I decided to letter “I love you more than the moon and the stars,” and to make it really sweeping and romantic. The funny thing is, it could actually be romantic, and I can see an audience looking at that and saying, “Oh wow, that’s exactly how I feel.” I actually love the moon and stars, and think it could look very beautiful. But when I give this card to him, I think he will chuckle. He will know how much I love him, but he’ll appreciate the sweeping look of the letters and know it’s supposed to be a bit tongue-in-cheek.

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I used gold and silver metallic Sharpies in the final version. I attempted to use colored Sharpies (yellow, pink and blue) but it did not look right at all. I ended up doing 4 different versions. Maybe someday I’ll vectorize this and actually make it look good, but this is what I could do for today! Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day! I hope you can find the perfect card, because that is a rare treat!
-A.K.

New Brush Font

Hello! I’m diligently working on some infographics, and decided I wanted to use a very specific brush font. So, on Sunday, I played around with my Sumi black ink and bamboo brush and designed a quick font.

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I’m going to scan them in and make sure all of the letters are the way I want them. It was really fun and spontaneous to do this little project, and I’m hoping I can have more creative bursts this year. I still need a name for this font…Let me know if you have any ideas! Since this is for a food/taste related subject, I like Acerbic, Savour, and Tincture. I purposefully used the British spelling of “savor,” because I think it looks more elegant. 🙂

-A.K.

Holiday Card Wrap-Up 2014

I know, I know: I am way late in the game on this! I can promise you I meant to post this on December 19th, before I left for the holiday break. I even had all of my photos edited and ready to go. But holiday madness being what it is, I just did not get this post ready in time. So here I am, on January 6th, posting about my two holiday cards I designed for the year. Please enjoy them anyway! I am hoping with the new year I will become more organized and keep this blog going at least on a semi weekly basis.

My first client card of the season was for my dear friend Heather Yeager. Instead of sending out birth announcements in the fall and then a separate holiday card right after, she decided she wanted a birth announcement/holiday card combination. I thought it was a great idea, because I had seen some very adorable cards like this and was excited by the opportunity to design something new. Heather is a talented photographer, and provided me with the photo of her newborn baby Penelope to use for the card. I designed the baby’s full name in calligraphy, and then decided to add snowflakes and “my first noel” to signal that this was a birth announcement as well as a holiday card. To match the baby clothing, I used unexpected, yet feminine pinks and purples. She was delighted with the result!

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For my holiday card, I knew I wanted to do some hand lettering, but I really didn’t have any other ideas for a while. I wanted to include a photo of my husband and I from our trip to Europe this summer, but I did not necessarily want an overly European holiday card. I chose a photo we took at the Hotel Sacher in Vienna, Austria, because it had incredible lighting at the interior of the building was stunning. From there, I designed a thick, festive “season’s greetings” lettering motif, and decided to add checkered snowflakes to the edges of the card. I was very happy with the result, but this reminded me that I need to keep working on my hand lettering technique. I also seem to run out of time to actually finesse the curves in Adobe Illustrator. And, me being me, I took on the extra task of doing red ink calligraphy for each and every envelope. The result was beautiful, but there were definitely some late nights furious cleaning my calligraphy pens so that I could go to bed!

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This is going to be a more organized year for me. I’ve got my resolution(s) set, and I will be posting about them hopefully later this week! Thanks for looking and I wish you a happy, healthy, and harmonious new year!

-A.K.

Work in Progress: Flora Series

Hello! I’m going to give you a brief sneak peek at a new watercolor series I am currently working on. I have been working on this for a very long time, but just have not been able to set aside the time to finish it. Originally, I wanted to make a series of watercolor paintings of 8 popular flowers, each with a caption including the Latin binomial name and the flower’s associations and meanings. I chose my 8 flowers, gathered some research, and began sketching.

My process includes a light pencil sketch of the flower. I look for balance in my compositions, so I look for a good mix of smaller and larger flowers. I also wanted each sketch to be self contained, so the bouquet had to have a clear cut near the bottom of the stem. I try to include a bud and a fully opened flower in each, to show the stages of the flower’s life.

Rose ink drawing

Rose ink drawing

After pencil sketching, I draw over the lines with a .01 in Micron waterproof ink pen. I try to be very careful at this stage, because one tiny twitch can make a big mistake. After inking, I erase all pencil lines. Then, I scan the inked drawing in, just in case the watercolor stage does not go as planned!

After the initial scan, I begin painting. I like to begin with the stems and leaves. Then, I begin to paint the flower petals. I specifically chose a variety of colors for this series, to have an interplay of warm and cool colors. After I am satisfied with the painting, I scan it in again. I don’t like to depend on the computer for help, but if I’ve made a gross mistake (like my paintbrush spits up a bubble of water and streaks paint far outside of the lines), I’ll go into Photoshop to correct it.

This painting is more of an "add-on" to the series, since it is not a standalone flower, but a collection of desert plants.

This painting is more of an “add-on” to the series, since it is not a standalone flower, but a collection of desert plants.

Currently, I have all of my paintings complete, and now I just need to do the calligraphy. This stage may take a fair amount of time, because I need to actually write the passages that go underneath the flowers! I’m hoping to get a good head start on this before Halloween, because I’ll be starting another graduate school class and I’ll have even less time to work on this. I’m really enjoying this series, and if all goes well, I may start another different series!

-A.K.

Love Language Idioms for Valentine’s Day

Hello and Happy Valentine’s Day! I wanted to design some Valentines this year, but as usual, I started on the project far too late and barely managed to finish the project right before the holiday. I need to give myself more than a month to complete something of this scope, but I don’t seem to get my best ideas until right before the holiday spirit sets in!

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For this series, I designed four different cards featuring a love-related idiom in a foreign language. I envisioned a lettered illustration on the front, plus a witty translation on the inside. I chose a variety of languages (Spanish, French, Chinese, and Russian) and I tried to convey a concrete object from each idiom. Drawing the compositions proved to be more difficult than I thought, but the watercolor painting actually elevated each illustration more than I expected.

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The first one completed was the French idiom, “Le coup de foudre.” That translates to “bolt of lightning,” and refers to instantly falling in love at first sight. I wanted the words to looks like lightning coming from a stormcloud, and the lightning to strike a heart. I really love the indigo-violet halo around lightning, so I outlined the words, and once I painted them striking the heart, I realized how similarly they also look to veins. I was very pleased with the result.

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The second one completed was the Russian idiom, “Po yshi vlubitsya.” That means “up to [your] ears in love,” and means to be completely in love with someone. This one was difficult to execute because of the odd imagery and the composition of the letters. I tried not to be too rectilinear with the composition, but I didn’t want to overdo the fluidity on the Russian characters so that they became illegible. I decided the hearts will have to balance the composition. The ears were difficult to paint, because not many people enjoy illustrations of disembodied ears. But after loosely painting them and attaching them to the Russian word for “ears,” I liked it a lot more.

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The third one completed was the Chinese idiom, “(yí) () (sān) (qiū),” which translates to “One day, three autumns.” That phrase means to miss someone so much, that one day apart feels like three years (isn’t that beautiful?). The characters themselves are beautiful, and fit into a snug rectangle, so I had a lot of issues with composition here. I wanted to add leaves to the longer strokes, but since I am not fluent in Chinese, I didn’t know if that could be misconstrued or mistranslated. I painted a lot of leaves and just placed them around the letters until it felt right.

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The last idiom was one of my favorites, the Spanish idiom “media naranja,” which translates to “orange half.” It’s an expression meaning your better half or soulmate. I knew this one had to be cute, so I wanted to do thick, happy letters inside of an orange. I am not the best at drawing circles, so this ended up looking more football shaped than round, but I am still happy with the result.

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So there you have it! I am not in time to start selling them this Valentine’s Day, but I’m hoping to clean them up a bit and sell them next year. Maybe if I find more lovely idioms, I’ll add them to the series.

Happy travels!
-A.K.