Pricing and Commissions

Saturday, January 21, 2012

New Work

Work in progress... click on photo to enlarge.

This piece is quite subtle. Lettered in a light blue gouache, with blind embossed, overlapping layers of clouds at the top of the piece.
Lettered in Moon Palace Sumi ink on watercolor paper, with hand painted initial capital and frog. I enjoy watching people's faces when they get to the last line.
I've always loved this blessing. Lettered in simple Uncial
with some color and gold on the first line.
Just a quick fun piece in complementary colors, with a sunburst at the top.
I used to sing this song to my kids at bedtime.
I had friends in Japan when the devastating earthquake and tsunami happened last March. I discovered a wonderful resource in Katz @ Yokoso News. People around the world spent many hours sharing information and listening to an insider's view of the disaster. We were all online when some of the larger aftershocks hit, and were actually able to watch Tokyo via skycam and see the buildings shake. The ability of the internet to bring the world together was incredible, and I felt a deep responsibility to share the information, much of which was not reaching the Western world. One night I got the image of golden ropes holding the earth together, wrapping it, binding it, keeping it from splintering into pieces. I did this piece quickly, without much planning, using a red circle to represent Japan, and only realized afterwards that the shape of the lettering block was almost a perfect circle to reflect the world above.
Lettered in 7 shades of gouache from turquoise to deep purple, with gold highlights. I love the decorative letter at the top, which is a Celtic capital with a Sherri Kiesel twist. A detail of me working on this letter is at the top of this page. I did another version in earth tones for a friend who has Native American heritage.

Strips of paste paper alternated with a deep violet blue italic. This piece is person, requested by my mother in memory of my nephew Cory, who passed away on his nineteenth birthday a few years ago. He loved to be outdoors, and we feel his spirit on the land my family owns in upstate New York.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Getting ready for our Mother-Daughter Show

If you are a teacher or a student, you LIVE for summer-time. You dream of sleeping in, relaxing by the water, enjoying long lazy days filled with friends, good books, good food...

If, however, you are insane enough to agree to complete work for a Mother-Daughter Art Show in mid August, you find that summer has a very different flavor. The first part of it is filled with research, contemplation of the words you have found, poring through books and resources for inspiration, staring blankly at a sheet of paper, and feeling the panic well up inside.


A little background. I come from a family full of architects, singers, builders, gardeners, artists, musicians, photographers and writers. My mother has been a painter for as long as I can remember. The smell of linseed oil and turpentine brings back memories of the studio in our house on Long Island. Now, she works in Upstate NY on the farm she and my dad own, often painting the barns on the property. People far and wide own her work, and sometimes come back to visit her just to let her know that after 20 or more years her paintings still have pride of place in their homes.

The Big Barn, by Virginia McNeice

My youngest sister Annie is an art teacher and painter. She works in acrylics, pastel and oil, and makes lovely little gems such as this sunset:

Sunset by Annie McNeice

And I, as you know by now, share my love of color, design and language through my calligraphy.

The Sun by Maggie McNeice

So, in June, there I was, faced with creating an entirely new body of work in time for the show. So much for a relaxing summer. I collected 40 different quotations, lyrics, fragments of verse, and delicious words based on our theme: Skyscapes. I studied them, decided on colors, images, lettering style, and basic layout. I weeded the 40 down to 12. I was ready to begin. I thought.

But wait! I needed frames! That involved math, normally shunned by my right-brained self. Usually, I design a piece and then send it to the framer, letting them work their magic. This time, I had to work backwards, purchasing the frames first, figuring out the matte and text areas within them, and then designing pieces to fit.

At the beginning, I felt like I was trying to dance in a dog crate.

But an interesting thing happened, after doing the layout for the 4th piece -- I realized I could relax a bit, do a quick sketch of where I wanted the elements of the calligraphy to appear in the space, and then rule the lines. I found myself responding to the space instead of being constrained by it, and pieces came together quickly, and without much fuss.

I will be very busy until the 20th, when we have our opening, but by that time, I should have a good collection of joyful, colorful calligraphy to display next to my mother's and sister's paintings. And, I will have earned a week's vacation by the beach before school starts!

More soon,

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Wedding Season

I'm so lucky that my teaching job slows down just as my calligraphy business heats up for the summer! This year, Spring was a bit hectic, and I am still trying to catch up with billing and a backlog of jobs, as well as planning 10 pieces for a group calligraphy & landscape show (more on that later).

One of the ways I help my brides is to give them resources that will answer questions about invitation design, printing, and etiquette. Although the social "rules" have relaxed when it comes to daily correspondence, wedding invitations are still treated in a formal manner, and should be addressed accordingly. Here are a few of my favorite helpful sites:

David Tutera's Big White Book of Weddings
(David is the creator and host of the wedding makeover show My Fair Wedding. My cousin and his bride are having David plan their destination wedding on a Greek Island this fall. This is a free online book at

The Cranes Wedding Blue Book
(This is the bible of wedding stationery, with an exhaustive section on etiquette for many different situations.)

Martha Stewart: Invitation Advice

More information will be coming soon, as well as some samples of recent envelope jobs!

Enjoy your summer,

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Odyssey Calligraphy Conference News

Photos from Odyssey International Calligraphy Conference: Scribe Store, where calligraphers can sell their creations; my first attempt at layering on Durolar, translucent drafting vellum; inkpot and quill cookies; and samples of work from the "Show and Share."

Well, a few weeks after the International Calligraphy Conference in Boston, I am still flying high. What a wonderful experience! I met incredibly talented people, made some new friends, and I was lucky enough to take Polyrhythmic Calligraphy with Denis Brown (from Dublin) for the week. In his class, I not only learned a lot about rhythm, consistent letter forms, and penwork (we did lots of pen manipulation), but once we had gotten a bit more comfortable with his asymmetrical, sharp italic letterforms, we started to explore stretching and layering them. I feel like I have just brushed the surface of this subject, but I have Denis's new DVD to keep me motivated and working in the right direction.

I took a Zentangle workshop, which was great fun, and I will talk more about that soon. I hope to teach a brief introductory class at the Cancer Community Center in November/December of this year. If you don't know about Zentangles, check them out at or just google "zentangle" -- you will be amazed!

I took tons of pictures of the three exhibits at the conference. One was calligraphic representations of Cheryl Wheeler's lyrics, the second was the instructors' exhibit, and participants also displayed their work. I will not post any of these here until I get permission from the artists, but if you check out "Nice Renditions" you can see information about the book. On YouTube, you can see two videos (Part 1 and Part 2) about the conference as well.

More info soon!

Enjoy -- Maggie

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Framing your calligraphy

I often find that people spend more money on framing than on the artwork they have received, which is a pity, as framing, although finicky, is actually a fairly easy process. I just found a great resource, complete with detailed photo illustrations, that shows how to frame your own artwork, step by step.

If you don't have a matte cutter, you can easily purchase pre-cut frames (make sure they are acid free) or ask a local frame shop or art supply store to cut one for you. Frames are available in standard sizes online, at art stores, frameshops, and (gasp!) at the Christmas Tree Shop.

Although this site is aimed at framing Asian artwork, the steps are suitable for any flat piece you wish to frame. Take a look at this site , ( dig out the prints, photos, calligraphy, etc. you have tucked away, and turn your house into a gallery!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Busy Season

The quiet time of year is quickly coming to an end. Soon the busy season will begin, and I will be lettering every day after teaching school. College diplomas, high school diplomas, awards, certificates, invitations, envelopes, wedding vows, family trees... spring is a crazy time of year for me!

I am also making plans to revitalize the calligraphy guild here in Maine, which I have sorely neglected. I have some feelers out for workshops, and a tentative schedule of events. It's time to get everyone together again, share the joy of lettering and art, and encourage each other to get our pens wet, brush up on our lettering skills, and try something new. I hope some of us will even submit an envelope to the Graceful Envelope contest or enroll in the Odyssey International Calligraphy Conference in Boston on July 24, 2010.

I have gone back to school -- getting my feet wet in a Photoshop and website design class, with the goal of eventually setting up a basic website for my calligraphy. I've spent a lot of time recently surfing the web, finding all sorts of great sites and talented artists. What a wealth of inspiration is out there! My favorite innovative calligrapher these days is Denis Brown. Intriguing and very exciting work.

Here's looking forward to spring!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Celtic Tenor Monogram

I recently had the opportunity to tackle a fun challenge, when I was asked to create a monogram with a Celtic "feel" for an Irish tenor named Paddy Homan from Chicago. Since I have Irish heritage, and grew up listening to The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem, I was excited about the job, even though we only had 10 days to get it done.

Monograms are a very personal project, so it was interesting to create possible designs, discuss them with a friend of the client and have him present them to Paddy. Upon starting work, I collected information about Paddy, and his thoughts about the monogram, which would be used on his stationery and possibly on future CD's or correspondence. He wanted something that reflected his Irish heritage, some Celtic knotwork, and possibly an Irish salmon. Thus armed, I spent some time doing rough sketches, playing with the shapes of the two letters: P and H, fitting them together, wrapping them around each other, placing them in a circle or a square, placing design elements beside them. Some possibilities were very complex, some more simple. I then met with Paddy's friends and they chose one to develop more fully. After a day or so of "tweaking" the design, adding type for the name and contact information, getting final approval, I finished the monogram. (I particularly enjoyed drawing that stylized salmon.)

I found a local business that not only printed the letterhead on time and under budget, but took my line drawing and worked their photoshop magic on it. ( The photo attached is my final draft, not the final product.) What took them 15 minutes would have taken me hours with a pen and ink! Another thing to learn how to do in my free time...

In the end, the clients were happy, and I hope to see Paddy's recent CD in the mail sometime soon. He has a lovely voice.