Make Your Mark @The Compound Gallery

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Are you afflicted with kinesthetic connection? Do you still like to write or draw with a pen or brush on paper? Do you get an oxytocin hit from feeling the feedback of the paper through your mark-making tool?

We have help for you. The only cure is to get closer to that connection. Make Your Mark gives you the means of making your own writing, drawing, painting tools. In three hours you’ll learn to make a quill pen, a reed pen and a soda-can folded pen (modified ruling pen). You’ll also get the chance to play with these tools with different paper and media – ink, gouache or watercolor.

Once you know the ancient (anything older than last year is ancient, right?) ways of making your own tools, you’ll have the means to connect even more with your work.

Make Your Mark workshop at The Compound Gallery
1167 65th st. Oakland, CA 94608
Saturday, June 18, 2016. 1:00 – 4:00 p.m.
$33 workshop + $7 materials = $40
Feathers and bamboo sticks if you want to bring them.
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Ruling Pen Workshop

Workshop Flyer Written WIth Ruling Pens

Workshop Flyer Written WIth Ruling Pens

How to Write with a Ruling Pen on Vimeo

Click link above for a short video

I’ll be teaching a workshop on how to use a fun calligraphy tool – the Ruling Pen. For the last 80 years, scribes have been using this “new” writing instrument to express themselves by making letters that break away from the broad edge pens of past scribes.

The pen makes its mark by being pulled and the ink is dragged out of the side of the instrument. One can vary width by what part of the instrument is being dragged across the surface – sideways. Using the pointed tip gives the scribe the chance to make small, fine letters. Working with the side of the tool, greater width strokes are possible.

Because the color is pulled out the side, there is greater inconsistency to the edge of the letterform. Add a rough-textured paper and the result is an even coarser edge. Often, splatters appear on the paper as the color is flung out when the pen is drawn across the uneven surface.

All skill levels can take this workshop. 

This workshop will teach how to use the tool, adding color and working it to greatest advantage. Students can use their own handwriting or modify calligraphic hands that they’ve learned.

The workshop is $60 for four hours of instruction and practice. The $10 fee supplies paper, ink and gouache colors to use in creating your written art. We will experiment with different papers to understand how to exploit the tool’s unique mark-making characteristics.

Ruling Pen Workshop  – Sunday, October 27, 2013
1:00  –  5:00 pm $60 +  $10 materials fee (paid at workshop)

Negative shapes

Stained C Gouache on paper

Stained C
Gouache on paper

The positive defines the negative – that is how letters work. Manipulating that relationship never gets old for me. This big ol’ C was fairly simply and directly made – a few colors painted and blended on a large sheet of paper. It got a little interesting when I sprayed water on the painted surface and let it bleed. There’s a three-dimensional quality that comes about in the staining that is far greater than on the paper itself.

A 12" square S made with acrylic paint

A 12″ square S made with acrylic paint

After talking with a few artists, I decided to move up to paint. Starting with an “open” acrylic, I gave it a try on a manufactured gessoed 12″ wooden panel. I was surprised at how easy it was to work with the color and how well it responded to watercolor technique.

B drippin'

B drippin’

And this one – where the negative becomes positive, leaving the B shape as the background. With a little staining, once again. For some reason color bleeding into the white space attracts me.

LETTERS: Writ Large!

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This coming Friday, June 7, 2013 I will be in a group show in Oakland, CA. I’m calling my part of it “LETTERS: Writ Large!”

This is the first show in which I’ve had work in a long time and I’ve been painting & lettering quite a bit in the past month. You saw the beginnings in my last post and I’ve added a number of pieces to the  pile. I’ve gotten more comfortable and confident at working large and am getting to enjoy the process. 

The show will give me a chance to see what all these letters look like spread out in a big space. 

Breaking the component parts of language back down to letters – and exploring how to paint a letter have been interesting. Getting past my internal letterform editor and allowing the letters to be and become formed as they are was tough.

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I found that if the shape of the letter wasn’t what I had in mind, then I presumed it was not any good. But friends that have seen them have found things in these imperfect letters that I didn’t see at first. The bowl of the P above is greater than a Trajan P would be. And I had a Trajan P in mind when I made it, so this is a failure. From that ideal.

The letter comes alive and its imperfection becomes an aspect of its personality. 

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Styles and techniques got thrown together and pulled apart. Using tools in ways I hadn’t used them before makes for some fun discoveries and forces a looseness that is counter to my training.

I’ve got more to say, but for now, I’ll leave you with a Tessellated T

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Luca Barcellona – Graffiti Artist & Lettering Maestro

Luca Barcellona – Graffiti Artist & Lettering Maestro

If you are:
1) Enthralled with letters, graphic design or graffiti and

2) Free on Tuesday – and in the Bay Area

Come to the San Francisco Public Library at around 5:30 to meet Luca Barcellona. At 6:30, this 34 year old Milanese will talk about his work – from graffiti artist to calligrapher and graphic designer. His client list includes Carhartt and Dolce&Gabbana and his range is from street art to fine art.

Here’s a short video of Luca making a few letters:

Brush Letters

I am fascinated with brush lettering, though I’ve done very little of it. Luca combines the freedom of a street artist with the mastery of a type designer/calligrapher. I’ll talk with him at the library – and if I can get a good chat with him, I’ll write about it here.

UPDATE: Luca spoke to a full house and completely wowed the crowd. He was swamped with fans as the library closed up and sent us out into the night. So, unfortunately no talk.