Author Archives: linda

Letter-writing and getting out the vote

I was recently interviewed via email by Tanya Basu of MIT Technology Review for a story on letter-writing during the lockdown and about the upcoming election. The article is wonderful, and I really hope it will inspire others to pick up their pens, paper and smartphones to get the vote out!

Like what happens with most published stories, I thoughtfully wrote my response, but only a sentence was used. I figured it would be good to share my entire Q&A here anyway for those who are interested.

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Come to the woods, for here is rest

In 1891, John Muir published an article about a valley situated on the south fork of King’s River that’s grander than Yosemite. One of the deepest river gorges in North America, Kings Canyon is more than a mile deep. Some of the features in the area include 14,000-ft peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers, and some of the largest giant sequoia trees.

Me in front of a giant sequoia
Autumn in the Sierra Nevadas

I had the best time visiting King’s Canyon National Park in October 2019. It was a glorious four days spent in the middle of the mountains and the woods, and what a treat it was to be able to walk amongst giant sequoia trees!

Of course, I penned and took a few of my favorite Muir quotes with me into King’s Canyon, and had so much fun hiking and taking photos of these quotes. Being in nature was exactly what I needed and I hope to be back again in a few years. There is so much more to explore!

Rendez-vous – 2019 International Calligraphy Conference

The beautiful campus of Bishop’s University in Sherbrooke, QC, Canada

Bonjour! I am still feeling inspired and my heart is happy after spending a week at Rendez-vous, the 2019 International Calligraphy Conference. It was a wonderful to be able to travel to Montreal and experience the lovely Canadian hospitality. There is much beautiful lettering throughout, including hand-painted signs by Pierre Tardif.

I got into my first choice, Roman Capitals with Elmo von Slingerland. I first met Elmo in 2016 at the A Show of Hands conference, and was awestruck by his work. Roman Capitals always scare and intimidate me as a subject of study, but this time I decided to give it a go. Although I did some monoline practice and am fairly familiar with the letterforms and structures, it was still very challenging to do Roman Capitals with a broad edge nib in the clean, crisp, meticulous and deliberate way that Elmo does.

That said, Elmo is a wonderful teacher who would spend a lot of time with each student to do personal demos. He has a keen and sharp eye and can see where one needs improvement and then will sit down to show you how it’s done. He’s also incredibly humble and kind. I hope to learn from him again soon!

Me and Elmo!
Our class photo

As with previous conferences, one of my favorite events is the faculty demo. This year I was able to capture the teachers who opted to do demo (not all do!). It’s always such a treat to watch them work. It’s so inspiring to see them work in person.

I was also super excited to see my friend Schin / @openinkstand do a demo at the John Neal Bookseller pop-up shop! Schin has a great new book out called Calligraphic Drawing: A how-to guide and gallery exploring the art of the flourish.

Of course, a week flew by as quickly as it had started – on the last day is the “Show and Share” event. It’s amazing every time! I loved seeing everyone’s work over the week and took mental notes on who I would like to study with in the future.

Me with my final piece for the class. Elmo is behind me. I was concentrating on the letters so much that I misspelled “inexhaustable!”

The best part about attending these conferences is meeting new friends and catching up with old friends. I had such a great time sharing my meals with calligra-friends, talking shop, walking to class and hang out at the evening events, relaxing on the grass, and of course, spraying mosquito repellent on each other (LOL)!

Megan, Michelle, Elyse, Hoang, me, Devina, and JB
Sylvia, me, Schin, Michelle, Sunny, Devina, Ale, and JB
Photo: olivierfouque.com

Just look at all these beautiful smiles! Row 1: Michelle, Sunny, JB, Schin, Chisato, Sylvia. Row 2: me (holding Ariel’s badge because he’s camera-shy), Erin, Megan, Ale, Brenna, Devina, Elyse, Bakhyt, Claudio, Hoang, and Anna.

I look forward to see these friends again in 2021 in Dallas, Texas!

Concertina Book: John Muir Tribute

Here is my concertina book for the participants exhibit at Letters California Style. The project got its start in a fantastic workshop with Joke Boudens last November, and I finished it in time for the exhibit. I learned so much from Joke’s class and the project, and it was so enjoyable because the theme I picked was California and the writings of John Muir. I am a proud Californian and a supporter of our national lands and conservation efforts, and Muir is one of my personal heroes. All the flora and fauna depicted are native to California, and the sign is iconic to folks who hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

The passages I chose are all from the Sierra Club website and they are in the public domain:

Walk away quietly in any direction and taste the freedom of the mountaineer. Camp out among the grass and gentians of glacier meadows, in craggy garden nooks full of Nature’s darlings. Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves. As age comes on, one source of enjoyment after another is closed, but Nature’s sources never fail. Like a generous host, she offers here brimming cups in endless variety, served in a grand hall, the sky its ceiling, the mountains its walls, decorated with glorious paintings and enlivened with bands of music ever playing. The petty discomforts that beset the awkward guest, the unskilled camper, are quickly forgotten, while all that is precious remains. Fears vanish as soon as one is fairly free in the wilderness.

Our National Parks, 1901

As long as I live, I’ll hear waterfalls and birds and winds sing. I’ll interpret the rocks, learn the language of flood, storm, and the avalanche. I’ll acquaint myself with the glaciers and wild gardens, and get as near the heart of the world as I can

Quoted from Muir Journals (undated fragment, c. 1871)

The mountains are calling and I must go.

Nature is always lovely, invincible, glad, whatever is done and suffered by her creatures. All scars she heals, whether in rocks or water or sky or hearts.

John of the Mountains: The Unpublished Journals of John Muir, (1938)

I have to say I was pretty proud of myself for finishing a piece and painting the art elements, too. This piece ended up being tied as one of the winners of the first prize at the Letters California Style 2019 Participants Exhibit. Thanks to everyone who voted for me!

Q&A with Joy Deneen for Rendez-vous 2019

I’m not much of a “being in the spotlight” type of person, but I sure talked a lot about how much I love calligraphy and attending conferences in this Q&A!  Thanks to Joy for reaching put and Vichana for the ASOH photos. I look forward to seeing all my calligra-friends and teachers at Rendez-vous 2019!

Read the Q&A here: https://rendezvouscalligraphy.org/en/blog/why-i-attend-the-international-calligraphy-conference

Seattletters 2018 International Calligraphy Conference

The historical campus of Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA

When I heard the 2018 International Conference will be in Seattle, WA, my first reaction was, “When can I register?” :) I’ve never been to Seattle and have always wanted to visit. The conference is on the campus of Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA, about two hours North of Seattle, but it’s a great chance to visit the city after the conference.

When class assignment was announced, I was really happy to get my first choice – Italic Variations with Diane von Arx. I’ve been working hard on improving my Italic Hand, so the chance to study with Diane was on the top of my list!

Diane personalized a folio for each student. My work sheets are in the background.
Playing with Italic variations and textures.

I really enjoyed learning from Diane. She encouraged us all to try different elements to create variations in Italic Hand – using a small nib with a tall x-height, using a large nib with a small x-height, and so on. The practice above creates different textures and create visual interest. I ended up purchasing an Automatic Pen from John Neal Bookseller’s popup shop and used it for the large Italic-style block above. Isn’t it a cool effect?

Speaking of JNB, how awesome is their popup shop? It was in the Library and in a beautiful hall.

On the first night, Sir Donald Jackson gave a talk about his journey to becoming a calligrapher as well as his work on the St. John’s Bible. It was most inspiring and illuminating. We were able to view all 7 books of the Heritage Edition on display!

Sir Donald Jackson during his talk.
St. John’s Bible on display.

As a participant, one of my absolute favorite events is the Faculty Demo. I was able to capture 16 teachers before a fire alarm interrupted us! It wasn’t anything serious, but firefighters had to inspect the building for safety, and the faculty demo night was cut short ;(

One week flew by, and we all worked hard towards Show & Share on the last day. Each class has a table set up with everyone’s projects, and we all walk around admiring the beautiful work from each class.

Last but not least, here I am at our classroom table.

We had the opportunity to take a group photo with Sir Donald Jackson as well as some more group photos!

Me, Sunny, JB, Mr. Jackson, Devina, and Elyse
Calligra-friends! Elyse, Sunny, Megan, Joy, me, JB, and Devina

I had a great time at Seattletters. See you all next near for Rendez-vous in Montreal, QC, Canada!

Paper & Ink Arts Instagram Takeover, Day 7: Putting it all together

I love this quote by acclaimed American dancer Martha Graham (1894-1991). It not only applies to performance and dance, but to me, it also applies to calligraphy. Why do we keep practicing over and over again? It’s the desire to progress and invite perfection. We may never reach perfection, but to quote Sheila Waters, “the journey is more interesting than getting there.”

For this piece, before putting ink on paper, I took a close look at the quote to see how it will fit, did a quick sketch on scrap paper, then lightly penciled in my guidelines (and that includes slant lines!) on the Bugra paper. I then inked this piece with a 1.5mm Brause nib, bleedproof white, and walnut ink for the attribution. After making sure the ink is dry, I lightly dabbed the penciled guidelines with a kneaded eraser to remove them. If you are trying a paper for the first time, it’s important to test your chosen ink on it, as well as testing to see how the paper takes pencil lines and the pressure of erasing. Some delicate papers may require a gentle touch. Putting it all together takes time, but each time we practice, each time we create a piece, we learn and progress a little bit more.

I hope you’ve all enjoyed following along this week as I shared a few things on the beautiful Italic hand. Thanks to Paper & Ink Arts for inviting me for this month’s Instagram takeover! You can see more of my calligraphy posts at @LindaYoshida – thanks for being on this journey with me!

Paper & Ink Arts Instagram Takeover, Day 6: Text block writing

One thing I don’t see too often on Instagram is blocks of text. A lot of beginners focus on copying single letters in an exemplar, rather than putting the letters together. Quoting Julian Waters: “When writing a block of text you have to deal with lettering/writing en masse, the effective distribution of space between strokes, words and lines of writing, developing writing texture.”

I really enjoy writing a block of text. You come across letter combinations that make you think, “how can I make these work together?” It’s a great exercise in creative problem-solving. Give yourself a quiet afternoon with a piece of long text – whether it’s from your favorite book or a passage from a calligraphy book, I know you will find it immensely enjoyable. You can even go one step further and challenge yourself by writing in another language, that way you won’t be reading the text but really looking at the letters and words and how they come together.