Pricing and Commissions

Sunday, May 31, 2009


This afternoon, as I watched old movies and lettered some lovely robin's-egg blue wedding envelopes, I thought about Spring. When I was a kid, this season was my favorite time of year. I used to spend hours outside exploring -- when we lived in Long Island, we wandered the neighborhood, discovering red rubber balls, hidden marbles, and sea shells that had washed up during storms on the beach. The world seemed fresh and new and magical. When we moved upstate, we wandered around our farm, watched the plants push up through the cold ground, picked flowers for our teachers, and were amazed at the miracles around us: calves being born and chicks and goslings coming out of their eggs. We even had our share of lambs, goats and geese under the kitchen sink, where the heat lamp could keep them warm. Spring was a time of fresh green, new things, and hope.

So, as I sit here at my work table, looking out at my garden, which is running rampant with all the rain we've had, I will try not to feel guilty about the fact that I'm not out there ripping out the weeds and controlling the chaos... instead, I choose to enjoy the exhuberant growth, and the amazing transformation from cold, white wasteland to splendid, unstoppable life.

In celebration, here is a piece I created for my mother, based on a Haiku she wrote: Little bird, spring comes, why don't you build that nest?


Sunday, May 17, 2009

Work and Grief

This winter, our family lost a wonderful boy, my 19 year old nephew Cory. He got sick while at art school in NH, and we were with him for 3 days in the hospital, where he tried to fight a cold that had turned into pneumonia... but in the end, we had to say goodbye to this bouncy, enthusiastic, artistic, loving boy. I felt like I'd lost my son. Cory had lived with my family in Maine for a summer while he went to MECA's summer program for art students. We fixed up a bedroom for the boys, and he and Owen finally figured out how to take the bunk beds apart in one room and assemble them in their room -- with only a few screws left over! I drove over the bridge to Portland once or twice a day with him, listening to rap or country, talking or laughing about his classes or some wild tale he told. After that summer, he would always call me at least once a week to tell me a funny story and make me laugh. He'd always ask, "You didn't take the bunkbeds apart, did you?" (As if I could!)

I couldn't do calligraphy for quite a while after his death. I had a backlog of projects, but I just couldn't begin. I would try to plan or write or draw, and instead, I would drift away again. When I eventually started working last month, I made mistakes on all 3 jobs I lettered. My head wasn't "in the game," I guess. A few weeks ago I lettered bookplates for the art books my parents are giving New Hampshire Institute of Art in Cory's name, and sent them (with a huge care package for his friends) to the school. This seems to have healed me to some extent, because I am finally able to work again, and the creative ideas are starting to flow.

When the phone rings these days, I'm getting used to the idea that it's not Cory with another crazy story for me about hunting, his friends, or something he did at college. And I know this summer, the house will be much quieter than it was 2 years ago, but... Cory -- the bunk beds are still set up.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Spring Rush

It's that crazy time of year again -- college graduations, weddings and corporate events all happen at once. I teach during the day, then I sit at my drawing table for hours, looking at my neglected garden... unless I am lucky, like today, and it rains. While this work is not the most creative, I have learned to enjoy the repetitive nature of addressing envelopes and writing the same line of text over and over on awards. I take pleasure in the swoop of a graceful "g" or a perfect "o"and listen to my favorite music on Pandora Radio as I work. The mellow sound of Norah Jones, Jack Johnson, Enya, Nickel Creek, Alison Krauss keep me company, and once in a while I'm surprised by something new... I just discovered "Til Kingdom Comes" by Coldplay -- a lovely ballad, and Madeleine Peyroux's "Don't Wait Too Long." The tempo and tone of the music definitely affect the way I form my letters.

I have a splendid new fountain pen filled with purple ink -- a Vanishing Point Nimiki from Richard Binder in Boston. Smooth and scrumptious!

A thought from a dear friend: Do what you love and the rest will fall into place.