Hand Lettering by Thy Doan Graves – Yes you should!

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Are you a victim of impulse buying? The stores that hold the greatest temptation for me to buy on a whim are stationery / office supply stores (like Staples), craft stores (like Michaels), and art supply outlets (like our local Opus store).

Often I regret these on-the-spot decisions but occasionally I don’t. That turned out to be the case when, on browsing the offering of art books at Opus, I ran across Thy Doan Graves’ book Hand Lettering – Creative Alphabets for Any Occasion. It captured me when I first leafed through it as not only beautiful but probably useful and imagination sparking. I bought it and now, almost four years later, I still lose myself in its pages.

The book begins with a section titled “Tools, Materials and Techniques.” This section includes an analysis of the parts of a letter, information on spacing and composition, letter embellishment, and many stunning examples.

A “Directory of Alphabets,” made up of 50 different alphabet lettering styles, follows. From simple to ornate, traditional to modern,  serif or sans serif—you’ll find some of every type here. Opposite alphabets with only an upper case design are lined pages titled “Your Turn,” inviting you to design alphabet styles of your own.

Letters are presented on a lined background, upper and lower case (where there is a lower case), with hints for letter formation in the sidebars.
Blank page opposite alphabets with no lower case for reader-designed alphabets.

Especially fun are the contributing artist-designed graphic alphabets—inspired by space, automobiles, buildings, flowers, animals, food, monsters, and fantasy creatures.

Food Alphabet designed by Olga Zakharova. Isn’t this fun!

Since I bought it in 2017 I’ve used this book a lot—marked my favorite styles with paper clips and browsed its contents for lettering ideas, designs, and embellishments useful in card-making, art journaling, and designing art that contains lettering. I would say that giving in to the impulse to buy this book was a wonderful capitulation. If you’re into hand-lettering, I’m sure you’d love it too

Welcome September!

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Happy September! I’ve kept my promise and given my blog a summer break. Now summer is all but over—hard to believe but that’s what the calendar and the shrinking hours of daylight say—and it’s back to more regular posts here. I’ll try for weekly.

Though the summer was a quiet one due to continuing Covid restrictions, it did have a couple of highlights.

July 7, 2021: The Word Awards 2021 Short List was published. I was thrilled to find Under the Cloud listed in the Historical Fiction category. Winners will be announced on September 25th

– Early August: Hubby and I took our annual road trip to visit family. Driving to Kelowna and from there to Dawson Creek, we went through many smoky patches, raising our awareness of the many wildfires raging in B.C.’s interior. Fortunately, we experienced smooth driving both coming and going (with fewer RVs on the road than ever). Of course we heaved sighs of relief to be home when we heard of the Pine Pass  closure (a stretch of Highway 97 between MacKenzie and Chetwynd) the day after we arrived home, due to a new wildfire in that area.

On the home front we’ve been behaving ourselves, going for daily walks, eating our veggies, with only a Sunday night ice-cream binge to excite the bathroom scales.  With the vaccines available, things are opening up a bit (or they were before the fourth wave of Covid hit). It’s wonderful to be back in church in person!

Summer reading included:

  • Suncatchers by Jamie Langston Turner, a lovely but slow-moving story.
  • “Starving” to Successful by Jason Horejs about artists and the art gallery business—very informative, practical, & helpful.
  • Poldark (the first book in the series by Winston Graham, on which the TV series Poldark is based—a very sticky read… could hardly put it down.

I’ve kept my Etsy shop open throughout most of the summer and stocked with new cards. Believe it or not, I’m now working on Christmas!

Throughout the summer I have also added to my series of wild berry paintings. I started out with a painting of blackberries last summer. Since then I’ve created a few more. Here are some. All are for sale (unframed), except for the “Blackberry Time.”  Email me if you’re interested.

So, now it’s welcome Fall! I’m expecting the autumn will hold more of the same for me. I hope your summer was safe and healthy. Any exciting projects in the works for you?

Ode to peonies

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t’s peony season here on the west coast of Canada! These gorgeous, fragrant flowers decorated the reception tables at our June wedding in Saskatchewan back in 1981, so my love affair with them is lasting. They are also an irresistible magnet for my camera and paintbrush.

I was excited to see a peony in bloom in the back garden of our current property when we first saw it back in June of 2007. That magenta peony bloomed beautifully for a few years and then mysteriously stopped blooming, eventually shriveling away to nothing. I blame the encroaching roots of trees that line the walkway behind us and the gloomy shade their branches cast over the garden.

Since then I’ve had to get my fix of peony beauty elsewhere. One local garden where the peonies bloom in profusion is Sendall Gardens in Langley. We visited on Sunday and I was not disappointed. We went shortly after a rain shower and the blooms were heavy with raindrops making them all the lovelier.

One of my favorite peony poems is by Jane Kenyon.

Peonies at Dusk

White peonies blooming along the porch
send out light
while the rest of the yard grows dim.

Outrageous flowers as big as human
heads! They’re staggered
by their own luxuriance: I had
to prop them up with stakes and twine.

The moist air intensifies their scent,
and the moon moves around the barn
to find out what it’s coming from.

In the darkening June evening
I draw a blossom near, and bending close
search it as a woman searches
a loved one’s face.

  • Jane Kenyon

From Constance: Poems © Graywolf Press, 1993.

Peonies are quite a challenge to draw and paint. They have a multitude of petals with curved and pointy shapes that make for a complex drawing. I’ve tried a few over the years with varying success.

My first try …

My first try at painting peonies in June of 2017—a bush of them.

From instructions in a book…

This one was drawn and painted with instructions from Jenna Rainey’s book Everyday Watercolor Flowers.

Lately I’ve attempted a few on my own. Here are several from my sketchbook.

The peony painting I’m happiest with is a 7×7 inch watercolor, “Blushing Peony,” currently available for purchase in my Etsy and Pacific Arts Market shops.

I’m now working on a set of three watercolor cards featuring peonies. Two finished, one to go.

Many local artists do a fabulous job of painting peonies. Check out these:

Bev Robertson (Vancouver Island)

Kathleen Niebuhr (Delta B.C.)

If peonies bloom in June where you live, go outside and enjoy them while they last!

Selling online through a sweet local art market

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Finding places to sell art is a challenge. That’s why, a few months ago, Pacific Arts Market caught my attention when I saw that a few of the local artists I follow on Instagram had shopfronts there.

Pacific Arts Market is a physical marketplace in Vancouver. It operates out of the second floor of a building at 1448 West Broadway (near Granville). I have never visited it in person but it looks like a happening place!

As well, the market has an online store!

After giving it a lot of thought and prayer, I applied a few days ago and was accepted into the online store! My storefront is now live. The image below is what it looks like. You can find it HERE.

You can also get to it from the Online Store Home Page. Click on the “Painting” box, then scroll down, waaay down, to the bottom. I’m the last shop on the page. Click on my name and you’re in. More art will be added in the coming days.

At Pacific Arts Market, in-store and online, you can purchase a huge variety of arts and crafts including wood, pottery, photography, wearable art, jewellery as well as drawings, mixed media, prints, and paintings. These come at a variety of price points from $ to $$$$. Check out some of the many crafts and vendors from the Online Store Home Page.

HAPPY ART SHOPPING!!

Art Exhibition

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Art shows are a new experience for me. Applying to have my art included in a show is a lot like getting a writing submission ready for publication or a contest—exciting and a little stressful. And so, a few weeks ago, after completing just such a submission, I was thrilled to have my painting “Persimmon Fall” accepted into the Langley Arts Council “Looking Back, Moving Forward” show.

“Persimmon Fall” – Watercolour on 140 lb. Winsor & Newton, 100% cotton, cold press watercolour paper, 9×12 inches.

It was originally planned as an in-person gallery exhibition, but that had to change because Covid-19 restrictions are still in place.

The virtual show opened on April 2nd and runs to May 12. You can view the exhibition gallery HERE.

Resurrection!

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He is risen!

He is risen indeed!

This is how Christians around the world greet each other on the day we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, in western Christianity Easter Sunday.

One last duo from Laurel and me, for this special day. I sent her the painting, she wrote the haiku.

“Joy” – by Violet Nesdoly, (100% cotton, hot press watercolor paper, 7×7 inches)

Lily
 
A blossom so pure,
with a voice so full of Life
it speaks, He’s Risen!

Laurel Archer – © 2021, All rights reserved

One of our pastors quoted a Bible verse on our Good Friday service that perfectly goes with this duo:

“Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God” – Hebrews 12:2 NKJV.

Wishing you a BLESSED EASTER!

A Lent Conversation – Week 4

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I can hardly believe we’re already into week four of our Lent project. This week I sent Laurel the prompt–a painting I did, inspired by a photo I took on a summer holiday trip we made to Salt Spring Island some years ago.

I love her psalm-like prayer poem in response.

My painting and the Laurel’s poem are below.

Painting: “The Lookout” – Violet Nesdoly – Watercolor on 140 lb. cold press watercolor paper, 9×12 inches © 2021.

Poem: “Open-Air Prayer” – Laurel Archer © 2021

A Lent Conversation – Week 2

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This is the second instalment of a Lenten conversation between Laurel Archer, my poet friend, and me providing some art. This week I sent Laurel a painting as a prompt. She responded with a poem.

The Hellebore plant was new to me when I moved to the coast (we didn’t have it in Saskatchewan, at least not when I lived there). This beautiful perennial blooms here in early to late spring with blooms that customarily face downward. It’s a plant that, even in bloom, looks penitent. Perhaps that’s why it was given its common name “Lenten Rose.”

I’m delighted with Laurel’s poetic response that reflects her experience with this lovely spring flower and takes us deeper.

Painting: “Lenten Rose” – © 2021 by Violet Nesdoly, Watercolour on 140 lb. cold press watercolour paper, 9×12 inches

Poem: “Promises” – © 2021 by Laurel Archer

Top Ten Sale

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The Top Ten Sale at my art shop continues—15% off 10 most-searched paintings and note cards. Most items are originals, only one available, like this “Fortress Mountain” painting, inspired by a drive along the beautiful Icefields Parkway in Alberta.

“Fortress Mountain” – original watercolor, on 140 lb. cold press Winsor & Newton watercolor paper, 9 x 12 inches.

Sale continues through tomorrow (Feb. 28, 2021).

Check it out: Violet Nesdoly Art