Pass the Pie.

I am a self proclaimed “Pie Enthusiast”, so Thanksgiving it where it’s AT for me. Every year I bake no less than five — yep, you read that right, five — pies. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of the savory dishes too, but pie is the thing I anticipate the most, and part of the glory of making so many pies is that there are always leftovers. And leftover pie for breakfast is my jam.

Like most holidays, it is important to take a moment to look past the table full of delicious food and consumer gimmicks to get at the heart of it all. What are you thankful for? How do you show your thanks? How do you share your bounty with others? I recapped some of my thoughts on this in my last post, but this year, I really do feel the warmth of thankfulness.

As we move in to the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, I am taking a moment to make a list of all of the things I want to savor this year. Ways to soak in the holiday spirit, give back to my community, and be more thoughtful in my gift giving. I’ve created a festive template to write down all of my holiday wishes, and I am sharing it here with you as a free download.

 
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I encourage us all to enjoy the season and pay attention to all of the little moments that make it so magical. A big goal of mine this year is to find more ways to share that magic with those who don’t have the financial means to do so on their own. If you have any favorite charities, recommendations for ways to give back to the local community, or any other ideas I would love for you to share them in the comments. If you can’t give financially, your time is one of the most valuable things you can give, so please share ideas for ways you can donate your time as well.

I hope you enjoy this template and it inspires you to make the most of the holiday season!

Here are some of the things that will be making an appearance on my list:

  • Go for a walk as a family to look at Christmas lights

  • Donate toys, clothes, or food to a local charity

  • Volunteer at a local shelter

  • Watch your favorite holiday movies (some of ours are “Elf”, “The Holiday”, and “White Christmas”)

  • Do something nice for a stranger

  • Shop from small businesses (this is my go to book for children!)

  • Decorate sugar cookies

  • Bake my mom’s Apricot Braid (a holiday tradition!)

  • Enjoy a hot cocoa date with a friend

  • Spend as much time as I can with friends and family

  • Listen to my favorite holiday albums (even if they are still N*Sync and Celine Dion’s).

  • Get matching pajamas (because my pup Brady in pjs would just be too cute).

P.S. Our Goldendoodle who we love to the moon and back makes a little appearance on the template. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add some reindeer antlers to his fluffy head! Click the link below to download yours!

 
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Thankful.
 
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If you have been following along, you know that I recently took the plunge from pursuing The Scribblist as a side hustle to my full time gig. I shared openly about the struggles I faced and the reality of the emotional toll rejection can take on you. Today, as I sit here next to my fluffy, scruffy faced pup and take inventory of this season, I am feeling so very thankful.

I have only been on this adventure, going full speed, for about 4 months now. Despite the early set backs (and I am sure there will be more to come), I have been met with so much love, warmth, support and opportunity. One of the things that helped me get over the hurdle of leaving behind steady, full time work, was a feeling in my gut that if I could just focus my energy and time towards this endeavor, I could be successful. These four months have shown me that I was right, and I know it’s only the beginning.

By the end of 2018, I will have taught five fantastic lettering, calligraphy, and painting workshops, painted multiple sidewalk murals, taken part in my first big holiday market, landed my biggest commission ever, hosted three personalization events at large retailers, and most importantly, made invaluable connections with so many local makers, creatives, and incredible customers.

So this year, I have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for the opportunity to pursue my dream. I am thankful for the chance to share my knowledge and skills with others and watch them light up as they learn something new. I am thankful to be a woman in 2018 — while we have a lot more work to do to ensure equality for ALL, I am thankful for the surge of support and love people are showing towards each other and to be doing this in a time where we are recognizing that women are worthy, powerful, and capable of ANYTHING. All of the incredible women I know who lift each other up daily are the inspiration for the artwork featured in this post. Together, we are strong. Together, we grow. Together, we can create a world filled with joy.

If you want to snag a copy of this print for yourself, you can find it in my Etsy shop.

I won’t ever forget this feeling of deep gratitude. Thank you, truly.

The 5 Supplies You Need to Get Started With Modern Calligraphy

I know the world of pointed pen calligraphy can be intimidating, especially because the supplies alone are a lot to figure out if you are teaching yourself like I did. I have put together a list of 5 basic supplies you need to get started, and have included some resources on where to find them online (links included!). My suggestion here follows the same rule as the illustration supplies, which is to buy the best you can afford. Luckily, calligraphy supplies are relatively inexpensive which means you can try a few things out to see what suits you best!

 
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1. A Calligraphy Pen

I typically recommend a straight pen holder for beginners as they work for left or right handed writers. I love the Manuscript pens from Paper & Ink Arts or the General Pencil Cork Tipped Penholder which features a cushioned comfort grip. Try to avoid the plastic holders (I know—they’re so tempting at under $2 a piece). They really won’t do you any favors, especially as a beginner. I learned this the hard way—once I invested in a nicer, wooden holder I quickly saw much better results.

Another option is the all mysterious Oblique pen. Oblique pens feature a flange on the side (on the left for right-handed writers, and on the right for left-handed writers). It is ideal for achieving a nice slant, particularly for right-handed writers who have more difficulty in that arena. My favorite is the Deco Oblique Holder from Paper & Ink Arts. These beautiful wooden holders have an art deco inspired end. Made in the US, they are sleek and have an adjustable flange. I have this pen and I love it!

Note: Check to see if your flange is adjustable or if it can only fit a specific style of nib! You may need a pair of needle nose pliers to adjust the brass flange.

2. A Pointed Pen Nib

The Nikko G nib is my go to, especially for those learning calligraphy for the first time. It is strong, but flexible and can cold quite a bit of ink so you won't have to refill quite as often. It also fits in just about any pen holder and is sturdy and long lasting. Try a few different nibs out, and see which you like best! They usually range from $1-$2, so you can try a variety without a huge investment. The biggest difference is in the flexibility—some will release ink with just the slightest pressure while some are rather inflexible.

 
The Deco Oblique Holder from Paper & Ink Arts is featured here!

The Deco Oblique Holder from Paper & Ink Arts is featured here!

 

3. Sumi or India Ink

These are both opaque black inks with a smooth viscosity. The consistency of these inks makes them ideal for beginners and they are very cost effective as well! I like to use little glass jam jars to put my India ink in as I often buy a larger bottle that you can’t dip in to. As you branch out and start using other inks (with color!) make sure you don’t get ink meant for a fountain pen. Try Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Inks!

4. Practice Paper

Your practice paper needs to be heavy weight and smooth so that your ink won’t bleed and your nib won't catch on the paper. Buying a bulk pack of laser jet printer paper allows you to practice freely without worrying about wasting expensive paper! My go to is #32 Laserjet Paper—I just order it in bulk on Amazon so I have plenty to use for practice drills and alphabets!

5. A Cup of Water and a Non-Fibrous Cloth

You will notice the ink can dry quickly on your nib and start to build up. You will want to periodically clean off your nib as you are working. When you are done, make sure to fully clean the ink off your nib and dry it separately from your pen holder. Leaving it in the pen with moisture can cause it to rust.

The cloth is for drying off your nib after you clean it in water. You will want a non-fibrous cloth so that your nib doesn’t catch on any little fibers and then drag ink across your paper. Soft, old kitchen towels work great!

 
Photo from our recent Introduction to Modern Calligraphy Workshop at Tendue in Portland, Oregon.

Photo from our recent Introduction to Modern Calligraphy Workshop at Tendue in Portland, Oregon.

 

Where to get these supplies:

1. Paper & Ink Arts

This website changed the game for me! They have just about every calligraphy supply you could want! A huge assortment of pen holders, nibs, inks, and more- all in one place! I order the majority of my supplies here and love their wide selection.

2. Blick Art Materials

Blick has tons of stores nationwide and a great online assortment. I usually stock up on my India or Sumi ink here, and they have a great selection of colorful inks as well. Avoid the Speedball packaged sets, and instead build your own kit from the materials suggested here! Bonus: They often have weekly promos!

3. Amazon

I think it’s safe to say that we all know Amazon has just about everything these days. I order my practice paper and glass jars for storing ink here as both are available in bulk.

4. Paper Source

Paper Source won’t have your nibs, inks or pens, but they have cards and envelopes in every color under the rainbow! Their paper bar has good quality, smooth options and are my go-to for envelopes! They have a wide assortment of sizes and colors— stock up on a variety, mix and match, and send out some seriously stunning snail mail!

5. Etsy

Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade and vintage items. There are some beautiful, hand painted pen holders available on Etsy and I encourage you to browse around! You can find my shop, featuring some of my hand lettered illustrated prints, at www.thescribblist.etsy.com

Tips for getting started:

Go slow and be patient with yourself! Calligraphy requires us to slow down. The tools will actually rebel if you try to go too quickly! Use your practice time as a chance to relax and enjoy yourself. I like to grab a cup of hot tea, put on some good music, and get cozy when I sit down to practice or work on a project. If you find yourself tensing up or getting stuck on a particularly tough letter, take a break to stretch. The key to learning calligraphy is a mixture of practice and patience. Most importantly, have fun!

If you’re in the Portland area, be sure to check our Events page for upcoming workshops! Learning is more fun with a friend!

Note on Affiliate Links: The links for Paper Source, Amazon and Blick Art Materials are affiliate links, which means The Scribblist profits from you shopping these items through those links. I only recommend products I have tried, used consistently and love. It’s an added bonus that these brands share the love with the people that use and recommend them. Thank you for supporting the brands that support The Scribblist.

On Failure, Rejection, and Showing Up for Each Other
 
Photography by  Lauryn Kay Photography

Photography by Lauryn Kay Photography

 

Our society has gotten really good at glamorizing everything — from what we are eating for dinner, to the clothes we wear, and everything in between. And thankfully there is a growing discussion around social media and how much it encapsulates only the highlight real. It can be challenging to not fall into the dangers of comparing your lives to these high moments captured, filtered, and uploaded to the internet. I think the same thing could be said when looking at entrepreneurs and those who are running their own businesses. I think we all can acknowledge that entrepreneurs are hustling day to day, working so hard to bring their visions and dreams to fruition. But beyond the long days, and even beyond the rewarding elements of working for yourself, it can be tough on your soul.

One thing my art education taught me is that if you want to pursue this arena as a career, you better get ready for rejection. Every artist or creative person I know can attest to the fact that you hear a lot of “no” compared to “yes” in this industry. You have to be able to dust yourself off and get back up and keep trying. Again, and again, and again. I know this, I have lived this (for years!) and have even experienced the grueling process of group critiques on more occasions than I could tell you. But I think it should be acknowledged that—well, to be blunt—it can really suck.

I know the key is to let the rejection fuel your fire, and for every opportunity you don’t make the cut for, you should apply to 10 more right then and there (and give yourself a high five for pushing through it!). But I also think we have to acknowledge this very real part of the process, shed light on it and encourage each other through the hard times. Most people I know are only sharing their successes (which, I know, it makes sense!) but it helps to hear that someone else tried and failed too. And that they kept going, and their successes started to outweigh their failures.

I say all of this because when I first took this giant leap to pursue my artistic endeavors and business full time, I was met with a lot of really great successes. I had custom orders and projects lined up, I had been selected for my first big public project, and I was meeting a ton of new people in my industry and making those connections! It was like the universe was cheering me on! You can do it! And then, inevitably, I got a pile of rejections all back to back. A design I created didn’t get selected, my work wasn’t accepted into a show I was excited about, and my queue started to dry up. I don’t share this for any sympathy, but in an attempt at honesty and compassion. I have since applied for five more projects and continue to create new, more challenging work, but I am also a human and my soul is feeling tender right now.

 
Photography by  Lauryn Kay Photography

Photography by Lauryn Kay Photography

 

If you’ve been hearing “no” lately, my heart goes out to you. And I want us to encourage each other to keep going, to keep our eye on our goal. Don’t be afraid of failure or mistakes, and don’t be afraid to share them. It may help someone else out there who is struggling, who is only seeing that highlight real and wondering how they could ever possibly compare.

I want to hear more about how someone I admire overcame their obstacles, how they were met with adversity and how they moved through it. I want to build a community where we can all show up, no matter what, instead of feeling defeated and ashamed, and wanting to hide. When I was receiving all of these rejections back to back, my initial feeling was one of embarrassment. I thought, “I can’t let all of these people see me struggle! I have something to prove!” and suffered alone. I don’t want anyone else to feel like they have to do that. In the end, I don’t owe anything to anyone but myself. I want to see my business succeed because I love what I do. And I chose the struggle so that I could build a life for myself and my family that I truly enjoy.

So let’s not be afraid to feel the disappointment and the pain of rejection. Give it it’s time and room. And then let’s learn from it, share what we have learned, and take the next step. It doesn’t have to be a leap! Just a step. You’re already way ahead of the game for even risking that failure to begin with.

Spotlight: Materials for Illustrative Painting

One of the main goals I have for The Scribblist is for it to be a source of knowledge and inspiration for anyone who wants to learn or further develop a creative skill. In addition to my workshops, I’ll be sharing free tips and resources for you here on the blog.

Today I am sharing my favorite supplies for illustrative painting. These are the materials I use to create my hand lettered and illustrated designs, which I sell as prints in my Etsy shop.

 
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1. Holbein Acryla Gouache

Gouache is an all around confusing medium for a lot of people I meet. So what is it exactly? Simply put, gouache is an opaque watercolor paint. Traditional watercolor paints are transparent, meaning you can see the color of the paper through the paint, so you have to work from light colors to dark. Gouache is a little more forgiving (thank goodness!) and it allows you to work from dark to light (if your heart so desires).

You might be wondering, so how is it different from acrylic paint then? Great question! Some gouache remains water soluble, like watercolor paints, after it dries. Acrylic paint, while water soluble when it is wet, dries permanent meaning it now has a closed surface. You can add more paint over it without it mixing, and water will no longer dissolve the paint.

Acryla gouache is like a mixture of acrylic and gouache paint. It is a fast-drying, opaque acrylic based watercolor paint. You can mix it with water, and create different levels of translucency, but it is going to lean towards a more opaque matte finish. Once is dries, like acrylic paint, it will have a closed surface so you can layer more paint on top of it. Bonus, unlike watercolor paint, you can use this on dark surfaces and maintain the bright, punchy colors. It comes in SO MANY colors and you can mix your own as well. I love this paint because it is easy to work with, the colors are fantastic, and I like to be able to layer without having to worry about things mixing together and becoming muddy. A little goes a long way, and the tubes are small enough to take a few with you if you feel like painting out in the world.

 
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2. Princeton Series 4850 Elite Brushes

I use a wide variety of paintbrushes, but lately I have been reaching for my Princeton Elite series quite a bit. My favorite of the moment is the 1/4” Stroke brush which is excellent for hand lettering or anything that needs a smooth edge. These brushes feature synthetic brush hair, which I typically prefer over traditional sable or other hair sourced from animals. They maintain their shape well, which is important if you’re using them for detail work. While this particular series is intended for watercolor painting, I find they work well for my Acryla gouache paints as well.

3. Arches Watercolor Blocks

I also use a variety of papers, but I do love my Arches watercolor block. They are manufactured from pure cotton fiber in France (so you can feel fancy and channel all of those artistic French geniuses while you paint!) and I find the paper to be very durable. They are available in a variety of sizes and surfaces, and the benefit of working on a block is that your paper isn’t going to curl as you are working on it. With water based paints, you are adding a lot of moisture to the paper. You need a nice, heavy watercolor paper to be able to handle the medium.

You will notice with watercolor paper that you have a few surface options, the main ones being hot press and cold press. Hot-pressed watercolor paper has a fine-grained smooth surface. Cold-pressed watercolor paper has a slightly textured surface. You will want to experiment with both to find what suits you and your work best. You will also notice there are different weights available (185 gram, 300 gram, etc). The higher the number, the heavier the paper. That means, it can take more water without buckling.

 
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My general rule of thumb with all art supplies is to purchase the best quality that you can afford. Typically, the more expensive options are more expensive for a reason. They are made with higher quality materials, and result in a higher quality product. That doesn’t mean you have to have the best of the best across the board. Experiment with a few different brushes and see if you notice a difference between the $2 brush and the $20 brush. Try out different papers by purchasing a few “by the sheet” options. Acryla gouache is a mid-range product, but it happens to be my favorite because I like the end result for my particular work. For my brushes, I have a few nicer brushes that I reserve for specific use (detailing, lettering, and hard edges) and I have a ton of cheaper options that I use for applying paint to large areas, less detailed work, and because honestly, I am really rough on my supplies! Don’t buy everything under the sun all at once—try a few things out to get you started, and build your toolbox as you go once you learn which supplies suit your style and needs best.

Most importantly, remember to have fun! I’d love to know what some of your favorites are so feel free to share them in the comments!

Hello and Welcome!
 
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hello!

 

Welcome to the scribbles and scribes of a calligrapher, artist, dog mama, and pie enthusiast. I suppose I should start with a little something about myself (just kidding, this is going to be lengthy so grab a cup of tea and let's get cozy!). I grew up in the South— well, not exactly the South, but in Texas. And if you’ve ever met a Texan you will know that Texas is an entirely different thing altogether than just the “South”. I spent my youth as many young children do, playing dress up and creating something out of nothing. In school, tried on extracurricular activities like they were part of my ever changing wardrobe, searching for the perfect fit.

When I was 15, I had an opportunity to move to Hollywood, California. As you can imagine, to a 15 year old girl this was huge. I just knew I would meet Lance Bass and we would fall in love (it’s okay, I’m over the heartbreak). All kidding aside, I took this giant leap because I felt a calling. I know, that sounds kind of cheesy, but it is true. And looking back, I am amazed at the fact that I was brave enough to leave behind all of my friends and the majority of my family to do so.

 
Tiny Amanda -- proof that my desire for all things extra started at an early age.

Tiny Amanda -- proof that my desire for all things extra started at an early age.

 

My mom understood and enrolled me in a magnet high school for the performing arts. I was amazed that there were so many kids my age who were passionate about creativity and learning. It was the polar opposite of my high school experience in Texas. There was no strict dress code (previously, I had found myself in the principals office on numerous occasions for showing up to school in sparkly feather boas or pencil skirts and heels) and for the most part, no one cared about sports (gasp!).

I went from drama class to ballet to choir to musical theater and I always felt like I was a Jill of all trades and master of none. Everyone I knew was incredible at something, but I always felt just okay at a lot of things. Little did I know, the universe had a plan for me.

While filling out college applications, I somewhat accidentally applied for the School of Arts and Architecture at UCLA. I knew I wanted to attend UCLA (the campus was gorgeous, it was close to home, and I held it in high esteem) but I thought that when it asked what major I was choosing, it was asking what I might be interested in. A couple of weeks later, I received a secondary application asking me to send in a portfolio of work for the Studio Art program. Let’s just say, even though I was making art and I loved everything about it, including my art history courses, I had no idea what I was getting myself in to. I submitted my odd ball portfolio, and by some miracle (because, trust me, it was miraculous) I was one of thirty students accepted into the program. I knew, even then, that this was the start of something special.

I loved every second of my time at UCLA. I grew immensely as a person, discovering my own voice and independence, and soaked in every ounce of learning that I could. I was an average student growing up, but in college, I became fiercely competitive with myself and aimed to be at the top of my class (while still having plenty of fun of course!). I was actually sad to be graduating at the end of four years because my idea of perfection was going to classes every day that I genuinely loved, and having summers free to travel (yes, I was very lucky).

 
One of the paintings I made while at UCLA. Recognize the little lady?

One of the paintings I made while at UCLA. Recognize the little lady?

 

After graduation, I (along with thousands of other students) had no idea what to do next. It was 2008 and the economy was terrible and I had to fight just to get a part time job in retail. But once again, the universe intervened and put me exactly where I needed to be. I had just moved from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, looking for a change of scenery and a fresh start. I met my future husband at that retail job, and spent the next five years falling in love and getting married. Once we settled in to our new lives as a married couple, I felt that calling once again. I longed to go back to school and better my craft, so I applied to graduate programs. A few months later we packed up our belongings and headed to the opposite side of the states so I could attend school in Boston.

And the universe was at it again, because as big of a transition as this was, it was exactly what we needed. We were challenged in so many ways. My husband and I lived in a tiny studio apartment for two years, thousands of miles away from friends and family, and it was magical. Everyone always jokes about our meager living quarters, but we grew closer than ever before. I started searching for ways to earn some extra income while I was attending school full time, and that’s when The Scribblist was born. I had a friend who helped me set up my Etsy shop and I started selling hand lettered quotes that I drew with markers. A few months later, I added envelope calligraphy that I created with pens because I had no idea how to possibly even attempt to use a dip pen!

 
One of the first pieces I created for my Etsy shop. It's fun to look back and see how much the work has changed!  (Even if it does make me feel a bit vulnerable!)

One of the first pieces I created for my Etsy shop. It's fun to look back and see how much the work has changed! (Even if it does make me feel a bit vulnerable!)

 

I remember the first time I had an order come in from someone I didn’t personally know. It was thrilling (and if I’m being honest, a bit scary too)! I had always planned for all of this to be a side project, while I focused on my studio art. To my surprise, the business continued to grow and I found myself wanting to shift my focus more and more. I had a steady flow of wedding work, and was selling quite a few custom illustrations as well. Things were feeling good!

Alas, life just isn’t that easy, right? Once I graduated, we moved back to Portland, as we had always planned. And then I had to start all over again. I found myself in a new, more challenging market and struggling to adapt. I decided to take on a full time job, and put my artistic career on a brief (or so I thought) hold. The plan was to work full time for one year, cause you know—those bills ain’t paying themselves— and then return to my own endeavors. Plans— they are a funny thing. Nothing in the next two years went according to any kind of plan I had. But as I was approaching the end of my third year of working full time, I knew something had to change.

Y’all, here’s where having an incredible partner is key. My husband gave me the exact push I needed (and it was a push! Not a gentle coddling!)to make that change. It was clear that if I wasn’t happy, it was going to have to be me making the change. And so, after many tears shed in a grocery market parking lot, I decided to leave my full time job.

When word got out that I was stepping down from my role to pursue my own business, everyone assumed that I must be seeing a ton of success already. If I was willing to walk away from a steady salary, I must have it made! Well, nope. I just knew that if I could devote my time and energy towards this thing that I love that someday, down the road, I could replace my salary. And not just replace it, but double it, triple it, who knows!

So here we are. I’m 2 months in and it’s already been a roller-coaster (more on that soon!). Deep in my gut, I know I made the right decision. The best decision I’ve made in a long time. I’m ready for the challenge. And this time, it isn’t just about me. I want to build a brand that inspires other women to pursue their dreams, to build community over competition. I want to help other people discover their own creativity, by teaching workshops and offering free content online. I want my successes to help others, so I'll be donating a portion of my profits to organizations working to defend civil liberties, the environment, and women’s rights. I’m glad you’ve joined us here, and hope you will stick around, too. I’ve got big plans for The Scribblist and I can’t wait to share the journey with you.