Whence did the wondrous mystic art arise,
of painting speech and speaking to the eyes?
That we by tracing magic lines are taught
how to embody and to colour thought.
-- William Massey
-- Words by Friedrich Neugebauer, Cut letters by Sally Wightkin
The making of letters in every form is for me the purest and the greatest pleasure, and at many stages of my life it was to me what a song is to the singer, a picture to the painter, a shout to the elated, ore a sign to the oppressed. It was and is for me the most happy and perfect expression of my life.
- -Rudolf Koch
Calligraphy as Subject Matter
A couple of years ago, I was asked by a glass artist 'what I do' and I said I was a calligrapher. The response was, "Oh, that's a dying art, isn't it?" That response puzzled me. How could anyone, especially another artist, say that calligraphy was dying when I am surrounded by the art of calligraphers? People who are contemporary, genius at what they do, and whose work inspires me and often leaves me in awe. Do other, non-calligrapher artists not see the artistic relevance of the work of Herman Zapf, for example? Or Sheila Waters? Or Judy Melvin? I came to realize that no, they do not, because, of course, they don't travel in the same artistic circles - the calligraphic ones in which I immerse myself. So, perhaps it is a mission of sorts to educate people to the still-relevant, still-evolving, still-alive art of calligraphy. Now when asked 'what I do', I answer that I am an artist. If they then ask what kind of art I do, I tell them that calligraphy is my subject matter, my inspiration. Calligraphy is the spring-board of the art that I create and that almost anything is the medium.
Almost Anything as Medium
Many calligraphers today still use very traditional tools of vellum, tempura, gold, stick ink, quills and the like; materials and mediums often used for traditional manuscripts, certificates and other written documents. Many calligraphers/artists today use almost whatever is out there! There are beautiful pieces of calligraphic art painted with acrylic on canvas, watercolor on paper, enamel on ceramic. Letterforms and design inspired by the calligraphic line appear etched in glass, cut from paper, chiseled into or out of stone. Calligraphy a dying art? Not so!
I just made a major life change and moved from Pittsburgh (where I have lived since 1989) to the Minneapolis area.
I quit my full-time job as a Client Liaison for an estate planning Attorney to dedicate myself to my art. For over 30 years I have been creating calligraphy for events and original pieces on commission - but only when I wasn't raising my kids or, later, working in the attorney's office.
I took the leap of faith in 2017 and joined two other artist's in Studio 143 of the Northrup King Building working alongside artists Michelle Mills and Carole Hallman.
I am a member of the Colleagues of Calligraphy here in Minnesota, the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, and the NEMAA.
I am still a member of the Calligraphy Guild of Pittsburgh, and the Washington Calligraphers Guild.
My original works have been exhibited and garnered various awards and recognition throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, Ohio and Florida and many pieces reside in private collections in the USand Canada. I even have a tattoo design which can be found on its person in Australia.
In 1987 some dear friends were willing to put a newbie calligrapher to work on their wedding invitations. Since then I have created envelopes (thousands!), place cards, invitations, and other calligraphic favors for special occasions.
I am honored to have had work published in Letter Arts Review Annual Review Issue on several occasions.
I have been fortunate enough to enhance my artistry and skills as a student in workshops of noted calligraphers Sheila Waters, Myrna Rosen, Carl Rohrs, Reggie Ezell, Laurie Doctor, Pamela Paulsrud, Georgia Angelopoulos, Julian Waters, Thomas Ingmire, Judy Melvin, Peter Thornton, John Stevens, and Timothy Botts, among others.
I am married to my dearest friend and soul-mate with whom I have two sons who, by far, are my greatest creations.