Call your mom, call your dad…

 

Call-your-momThe Oscars ceremony does nothing for me, so I tend to avoid all Oscar-related media coverage.

I was intrigued, however, by a featured post on the popular blog, Mashable, entitled, “7 inspiring and emotional Oscars quotes from backstage and onstage.”

I’m a sucker for a topical quote, so I decided to check out the post.

Up to that point I had never heard of J K Simmons, winner of Best Supporting Actor for her part in Whiplash (call me out of touch, but I’ve never heard of Whiplash either).

Out of the seven quotes, the one attributed to Simmons was the only one that struck a chord with me. Here it is, as posted on Mashable…

“And if I may, call your mom, everybody. I’ve told this [to], like, a billion people, or so. Call your mom, call your dad. If you’re lucky enough to have a parent or two alive on this planet, call ‘em. Don’t text. Don’t email. Call them on the phone. Tell ‘em you love ‘em, and thank them, and listen to them for as long as they want to talk to you. Thank you. Thank you, Mom and Dad.”

Yep… I know… actor thanks mom and dad for her Oscar success. Hardly original. But the sentiments at the heart of Simmons’ quote struck a chord with me. Maybe, because I regret not having called my own mother more often while she was, in Simmons’ words, “alive on this planet.”

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, whenever I read words that affect me I’m compelled to fetch my pens and write… and so I lettered an abridged version of Simmons’ quote which I’ve featured at the top of this post (or see it here on Flickr). I’m not sure where this compulsion to write particular words comes from… maybe, by writing them, I feel that I’m endorsing the sentiments, sealing them with my own stamp of approval. Or maybe I’m just passionate about putting pen to paper.

But enough about me. Instead, pay heed to Simmons. As soon as you finish reading this post, get on the phone and “call your mom, call your dad,” while you still can.

I just realised that in my previous post I was advising everyone to write for the sake of their children. Now I’m advising everyone to call their parents.

Despite how it looks, I have no intention of pursuing a career in counselling. I’m a calligrapher. Through and through. And you can quote me on that!

 

Snow is such an amazement

SnowWell, the forecasters promised snow, and they didn’t disappoint. A four inch blanket of the white stuff settled on my garden overnight.

So this morning, before it was even light, I was all wrapped-up in my winter woollies and outside in the freezing cold, clearing my path and driveway with my brand new, just-out-of-the-wrapper, snow shovel. The neighbours surely thought I was mad, shovelling away in the pitch-blackness. But I had paid good money for the shovel, and I was determined to put it through its paces before the snow thawed of its own accord.

Completely hidden under a thick layer of snow, my wife’s car resembled an igloo on wheels. Since she would soon be leaving for work, I morphed into dutiful husband mode and unburied it for her. After ten minutes of effort, breathless and bent double with exertion, I watched her slide effortlessly into the driver’s seat, and turn the ignition.

The original photo.

The original photo.

“Thanks for scraping my car,” she said, matter of fact, as if I had removed a slight dusting of frost from her windscreen. The words ‘hero,’ and ‘unsung,’ sprang to mind. As she reversed out of the drive, she waved goodbye. Still breathless I tried, but failed, to summon the energy to wave back.

By the time the sun eventually rose, my home was a snow-free zone and I rewarded myself by walking to a nearby country park, where I hoped to snap some winter scenes on my iPhone. I arrived at the park early enough to discover that many of the snow-covered paths around the loch remained free of footsteps. I was delighted, as I think there is something really satisfying about being the first to tread a path through virgin snow.

As I walked, I noticed a little snow-covered bridge up ahead, under a canopy of trees, and realised immediately that it was the perfect image to which I could add a calligraphic quotation (I’m a sad person… I know). From experience, I know that taking photographs as backgrounds for my calligraphy is different from normal photography, in that it’s essential to incorporate a blank space in the composition to contain the calligraphy that will be added later. I knew instantly that a small area of untrodden snow in front of the bridge would work perfectly.

I used an amazing app called Waterlogue, that is installed on both my iPhone and iPad, to create a watercolour painting from my bridge photo. I have tried many similar apps to get a watercolour effect on my photos, but Waterlogue is by far the best. The results are spectacular, and I can highly recommend the app if, like me, you love watercolours but can’t paint to save yourself.

With the "Waterlogue" effect applied.

With the “Waterlogue” effect applied.

I then did a quick Google search for an appropriate quotation about snow. I loved the following quotation, by Carol Rifka Brunt:

“… there’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on. It makes you believe you’re special, even though you know you’re not,” 

The sentiments are perfect but, unfortunately, it was too long to comfortably fit into the allocated space.

Instead, I chose, “The very fact of snow is such an amazement,” by Roger Ebert. Short and sweet!

As a change from my usual Italic, I experimented by lettering the quote in a pointed pen style (even though I didn’t use a pointed calligraphy nib to produce the lettering). I’ve been teaching myself a variation of this style, commonly referred to as “modern calligraphy,” and I really enjoy the informality of the script.

After lettering the quotation, I scanned it into Adobe Photoshop, and inserted it onto a layer on top of my ‘watercolour’ image. I then experimented with the size of the lettering, and tinkered with its position until I was happy with the composition. Finally, I sampled a darkish blue from the background and used it to colour the calligraphy. The finished artwork is featured at the top of this post.

All in all, it has been a perfect morning. Walking in beautiful scenery, photography, calligraphy, Photoshopping, blogging, and road-testing my brand new snow shovel.

This might just be as good as it gets!

My favourite calligraphy book of the moment

In my workplace, I’m surrounded by calligraphy books, all within easy reach for when I’m in need of inspiration or motivation.

One book that has had a particular influence on my recent calligraphic creativity is Modern Mark Making by Lisa Engelbrecht. This book taught me to relax my occasionally too-disciplined approach to calligraphy, and showed me how to break the rules that can sometimes limit experimentation and stunt creativity (but as with everything in life, if you want to break the rules of calligraphy successfully, then you have to learn them first.) In a nutshell, the book reminded me that calligraphy should be fun.

Screenshot 2015-02-06 10.54.28Modern Mark Making is a very modern book for non-traditionalists. If you want to learn ‘traditional’ calligraphy, then buy a book by a master of the craft, such as Tom Gourdie (whose books I also own). If you want to enjoy creating letters by less formal methods, and have some fun along the way, then treat yourself to a copy of Modern Mark Making… you won’t regret it.

Visit Lisa Engelbrecht’s website here, and her blog here. Buy Modern Mark Making on Amazon.

The Modern Mark Making image at the top of this article is representative of the spiral-bound copy that I own. According to Lisa’s website the latest paperback version is entitled Modern Calligraphy and Hand Lettering, as per thumbnail shown on the left. Apart from a few differences, they are basically the same book.

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