Friday, January 26, 2018


In the midst of trying to find a mistake in our home accounting, I remembered a young woman accountant who helped our PTA find some missing expenses. She said, "Sometimes I go back to paper and pencil. I find it faster and more efficient for me." I put aside the Excel and Quicken programs that I was using and with paper and pencil began to focus on what I was really seeking. I found the mistake by making a long list of expenses and credits all the way back to 2007. Sometimes simplicity works best for me when I am trying to solve what seems like an overwhelming problem.

I was inspired to go back to basics in my creative activities when I attended the Friends of Calligraphy's Trivial Pursuits day last Saturday. The annual fun day is filled with 6 mini-courses that are a break from more intense calligraphy workshops that are offered by the guild. Each project at TP must be completed in an hour so that we can move on to the next. The teachers are fellow calligraphers and the offerings each year are always full of fun and surprises.

Each class focused on one of the basic design principles: line, shape, value, color, positive and negative space, and texture to create something using only simple supplies, such as paper, pencil, ink, pen, wax, and paint.

From a small black square of paper, we all cut out half of an image (half of a heart is a good start and a perfect Valentine card), which we flipped over to enlarge the design. I cut shapes from a different square and placed them so that they show another design principle, direction. The design also created an optical illusion, which makes you think there is a solid white line around the inner square.

In another class, we worked with color using watercolor as our medium. On a small piece of paper, we brushed on circles of color, then turned the blobs into whatever caught our imagination. Then we blended color in a palette using wet-on-wet and dry brush techniques. Once these were dry, we could use a black permanent marker to add Zentangles, another class offered at Trivial Pursuits.

We practiced flourishing, using line to add decoration to letters, in another class.  But first, we warmed up by drawing circles over and over across the page. Then we tried S curves with a pointed pen that helped us generate thick and thin lines. With enough practice, we could move on to flourishes around lettering. We also learned to make wax seals, which calligraphers use on hand-lettered documents, much like what has been done for hundreds of years. Nowadays the seals are mostly for decoration and add texture to a design.

The last class required folding skills as we shaped origami stars from leftover practice calligraphy sheets. We folded eight pieces of paper and then interlocked them to make a star. What a treat they will be to hang next December.

Each of these classes, though only an hour long, made us slow down and focus on one practice. In the room full of 40 people, harmony, another design element, prevailed. Like meditation, Trivial Pursuits gave us time to work with the basics of design, to use simple materials and brought us all to a quiet state where we focused on our work and encouraged each other in our endeavors.


  1. Replies
    1. Thank you, Jan. These are all fun to do.

  2. Meditation, harmony, creativity--not so trivial after all! Love these projects and your experience creating them.

    1. Thank you again, Teresa, for taking the time to read my blog. I am so glad you find inspiration from them!


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