Musings on Being the Artist of Your Day

Tag: Calligraphy (Page 1 of 2)

Season of Heartful Hope

Calligraphy by Elena Caruthers

“Sing Out the Old Year,” calligraphy by Elena Caruthers

During this holiday season, gatherings on Zoom mean no need to get dressed up or feel self-conscious about that dish to prepare and bring to the potluck. From the Friends of Calligraphy’s holiday party my name was drawn for receiving a door prize. When I unpacked it, I found this beautiful card by calligrapher Elena Caruthers. From someone who loves to make cards I equally I love receiving them. Thank you Elena!

Today the first Covid-19 vaccines were administered in the United States. This is a momentous day. However, we must stay vigilant in looking out for each other and wearing masks. We will get through this!

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

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When Poetry, Calligraphy & Music Collide

"Awesome," calligraphic piece by Mary Gow

“Awesome,” calligraphic piece by Mary Gow

By Mary Gow

A shrill violin, then a furious drum beat accompanied by a bass guitar with a steady beat, then the bass goes deeper, the violin goes shriller.

My hand is struggling to let go of my mind while pen moves across the page.

This was my first workshop where I listened to experimental music and was prompted to interpret it on paper. A process not to be confused with painting while listening to music.

This is a deliberate call upon my hand to perform according to tempo and beat. I usually enjoy painting to music or Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday. My first creations from this calligraphy and poetry workshop were a bit sad looking, I hate to admit.

I know what wondrous expressive calligraphy looks like and it wasn’t flowing for me.

But I had to pardon myself and let myself absorb the great learning that comes – yet may begin with frustration. I knew what I wanted to put down on paper and what would look good. But I allowed myself to draw something crummy looking, something that didn’t have rhythm and proper spacing like the music did, and I even taped it up on the wall when it came time to show our work.

That in itself was a breakthrough for me. To be okay with putting up work that I knew didn’t represent all I could do. I put it up at the risk of getting feedback, yet, it felt liberating to allow imperfection to be on public display.

I’ve attended a LOT of workshops yet this was my first one ever that calligraphy and poetry were combined with music. And within the workshop the calligrapher and the poet explained how they are collaborating with musicians.

One of the calligraphers I admire the most in the world is Thomas Ingmire. He should be designated a National Treasure as far as I’m concerned. His spectacular work transcends letterforms. He’s won numerous awards and his work has been recognized internationally, so I’m not alone in this admiration.

Ingmire has been collaborating for ten years with British poet, David Anwnn (pronounced Ah-newn). Like a dialog, Ingmire reads Anwnn’s poetry and reflects on it then creates calligraphy from his reflections, Anwnn answers back, and it continues and continues.

Both appeared and spoke of their collaboration at the Book Club of California on Thursday evening, April 7, 2016.

I knew that night that the workshop they were giving two days later would be unlike any I’d ever experienced before. And I was right.

The workshop was a starting point for me to keep going with what was introduced.

Listen to some John Zorn when you can.

Get lost and found in calligraphy by Thomas Ingmire.

Take yourself somewhere you’ve never been through David Anwnn’s poetry!

And don’t give a darn whether anyone approves of what you’ve drawn or painted or written. What is real and true is what matters and it might take a workshop to kick start the remembrance of that.

Artistry on Display at Friends of Calligraphy’s Kalligraphia XIV Show June 13-Aug. 22

"Be Brave," by Mary Gow. Calligraphy on color reproduction of painting on canvas.

“Be Brave,” by Mary Gow. Calligraphy on color reproduction of painting by Mary Gow.

On an impromptu trip to the main San Francisco Public Library three years ago I stumbled upon a beautiful array of calligraphic artistry that was Kalligraphia XIII. It’s the once every three year exhibition of the members of the Friends of Calligraphy.

I blogged about that experience — loving seeing Monica Dengo’s demo I videotaped it and you can see it in this entry: “Sense the Space: Improvise!.” And I had met Mr. Thomas Ingmire briefly in 1996 so it was a thrill to see him and his work there: “Inspiration from the Work of Master Scribe Thomas Ingmire.”

Three years have passed and it’s time for another Friends of Calligraphy members show at the San Francisco Public Library. The Opening Reception for Kalligraphia XIV is 2-4 p.m., Sunday, June 14, sixth floor, Skylight Gallery, 100 Larkin St.

I decided follow my passion for lively lines and became a member of the Friends of Calligraphy. The “Be Brave” image in this blog post isn’t the piece I have in the current show. Drop by if you can and take a look!

The viewing hours are:

Sunday Noon to 5 p.m.
Monday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Tuesday – Thursday 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Friday Noon to 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

After the opening reception tomorrow from 2-4 p.m., there’s a full schedule of events at the library this summer that are free and open to the public.

June 20: 2-4 p.m. Gallery Walk & Talk
Meet at Exhibition Entrance, Skylight Gallery, Sixth Floor. Friends of Calligraphy members Georgianna Greenwood, Thomas Ingmire and Chris McDonald will walk through the exhibition and give an overview of the pieces on display.

Calligraphy Demonstrations

Seven Saturdays this summer noted calligraphers will offer demonstrations of calligraphy, materials and methods.
Where: Latino-Hispanic Community Room (lower level), 2-4 p.m.
These demos are free and open to the public.

July 11: Ward Dunham


July 18: Carl Rohrs

Brush versus Pen

July 25: Georgianna Greenwood

Roman & Celts: Early Book Scripts

August 1: International Talents from Passionate Pen

Gemma Black
Words are more than ink on a page

Pat Blair
Letters and Petals: Copperplate, Flourishing & Painted Petals

Monica Dengo

Intercultural Calligraphy

Suzanne Moore

Finesse: Detailing the Zero Edition with Pigment and Leaf

Carol Pallesen

Lots of Boxes

Marcy Robinson
Simple Marbling Techniques Using Pastels & Shaving Cream

August 8: Judy Detrick
The Men in Tights Who Invented Italic

August 15: Sara Loesch Frank & Evelyn Eldridge
Calligraphy Tools & Materials

August 22: Raoul Martinez


See the San Francisco Public Library’s webpage about Kalligraphia XIV here.

Hope you don’t miss this opportunity to see some exquisite work!

Sense the Space: Improvise!

Here’s another Rock Star in the World of Calligraphy.

She just gave a five day workshop at Fort Mason in San Francisco. It was sold out.

Sense the Space, by Monica Dengo

Sense the Space, by Monica Dengo

Thank you, Monica Dengo, for a great reason to travel to Italy.

Dengo lives in Arezzo, about an hour south of Florence. I met her for a nanosecond during the time she lived in San Francisco in the 1990’s.

She teaches in Italy and worldwide and her work is in public and private collections. You can find out all about her courses at her calligraphy teaching website,

I’m especially drawn to artists like Dengo, whose work exudes a vibrant aliveness.

It’s not about a literal reproduction of what we see.

It’s more an EXPRESSION of it.

It’s art that goes where words can’t.

Gestural art captures a feeling.

Gestural art is alive!

I did my own experiment and created some improvisational calligraphy. The piece below I worked a little further on with some improv digital a la Adobe Photoshop.

Improv + Digital by Mary Gow

Improv + Digital by Mary Gow

Hopefully Monica Dengo will be back next year for another demo and class. You can find one of her large scale pieces in the permanent collection of the Mountain View Public Library on the second floor.

Though Kalligraphia 13 is over, there’s a calligraphy demo by David Goggin on Friday, August 31, 6:30 to 8pm, at the Red Vic, at 1665 Haight Street, San Francisco, and he’s teaching a class there on September 1st.

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