Pricing and Commissions

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,