I’m back home after two extensive tours, one in the Northern States of America and one in West Canada (eleven stops in total). There’s still one more trip to the US two weeks from now, the Colorado Conference and that will be the end of my traveling days for this year. We’re busy planning a tour in the US for Spring next year that will most probably bring me to Boize, Salt Lake City and Colorado Springs, perhaps also Boston, and I hope to add a few more to the schedule (contact me if you’re interested).
Everything went exceedlingly well: planes on time, delightful hosts and students, good food, fun time in and out of the classroom and enough time off to do some sightseeing or simply relax with a book.
Now, back home, I made a TO DO-list which keeps staring at me for quite a few things can’t be crossed that easily from it. A thorough editing of my handouts, preparing for an exhibition, writing a new book … and tending the garden, painting the woodwork etc…
Well, I guess that instead of updating my blog, I might as well get started on a couple of minor things on that list.
A week from now I’ll be on a plane to Minnesota, where my American tour kicks off. It’ll also bring me to Montana, Washington, Oregon and Illinois for 10 workshops in total. I’ll be away from home for about 5 weeks – the longest period so far. I know there will be times I’ll wish I could sit in front of my TV or at breakfast with my slippers on and my family around me, but I’m sure my hosts will make me feel at home – they always do.
I’ll return to the States in July to teach at the Calligraphy Conference, which is held in Colorado this year. I’m teaching Pointed Brush and Experimental Layout and I promised to give a slidepresentation one evening. There are still some places left, so check out www.2013calligraphyconference.com
And while I’m at it, it may be good to know that there’s a great possibility that I’ll be touring again in the US in Spring next year. At least three guilds have shown interest – if your guild would like to join and help cutting the airfare, let me know as soon as possible. The more workshops I can add, the cheaper it becomes.
That’s all for now, Cheers, Yves
I know, my last posting was sometime in May last year, so it looks like I forgot all about this blog – correction: for a long time, I did forget I had a blog. In the unlikely event that you were eagerly waiting for an update on my whereabouts, please accept my apologies.
So what did I do between May 2012 and January 2013 that is worth mentioning. In chronological order:
1. there was a concert of my musical hero Elvis Costello in Brussels on May 31 that was – need it be said?- too good to be true.
2. I taught a small class in Santa Fe, organized by Trish Meyer. I enjoyed the hospitality of Trish and Patty Hammarstedt while I was there, met up with a FB acquaintance and wonderful paintress Alexandra Eldridge and of course visited a few galeries on Canyon Road, so I got to know more about the art scene in SF, which is regarded as the second most important of the US.
3. Then I flew to Portland, Oregon for the annual conference. Always nice to catch up with my colleagues from overseas. This year was special: four of the seven European teachers in the Faculty were Brugeans – somehow, I always like to mention this. It was a very good edition: lots of things to see, lots of presentations to attend, delightful students – a very intense week.
4. August 3 : Andrea Voets, the harpist I collaborated with, gave the premiere of ‘Latin Lovers’ in Ostend. More performances are booked for this year – it’s going well.
5. I taught for the Clas Festival in Malvern (UK) in the third week of August. I remember it was a wonderful setting and the students were, as usual, very eager and cooperative. I stayed a day longer to visit a.o. the Worcester Cathedral.
6. In September I had an American tour, bringing me first in Miami, where I stayed with Monica Marquez en Gina Taller. Again the best hosts one can imagine – truly, so far I’ve always been extremely lucky with the people I stay with. I had five days in between teaching where I could enjoy the Miami way of life.
7. From Miami, I flew to Greensboro, North Carolina, to participate in a workshop with no less person than John Stevens at Cheerio. What can I say ? This privileged life is such that one starts feeling guilty about it. Wonderful people, all of them, Joyce Teta is a treasure, John a great teacher, Martyn a splendid cook, … if you haven’t experienced Cheerio as a calligrapher, your life cannot be complete.
8. After Cheerio, my destination was Kansas City. I spent two, three days there teaching for the lettering staff of Hallmark. Had the opportunity also to see some of its inside – graphic designers everywhere and creativity literally dripping from the walls.
9. Finally Atlanta, the home of the late Martin Luther King. Two days teaching, restaurants, relaxing, a bit of sightseeing and informative talks along the way with my host about the American way of life.
10. In October I started renting a studio space in the center of Bruges, which allows me to work a bit dirtier than I normally do. Also, there’s nothing there to distract me from my work – no computer, no kids, no wife, no books, just me, my tools and my ipod.
11. For a couple of weeks, I worked on canvas and wooden panels. For me it proves a lot more difficult than working on paper. I spent hours adding, obliterating and feeling dissatisfied most of the time. Maybe it would help if I knew what I wanted
12. Next to that, I practised daily my Trajans with the flat brush. It is an old love of mine, that got resuscitated in John’s workshop. I’m making progress, but it’s not an easy thing. It still baffles me that John can make a flawless alphabet ‘just like that’. I keep on practising, just for the joy of it,… and to become a better calligrapher also, of course.
13. In between the struggles with canvas and the Trajans, there were a few (but much less than in the old days) commissions: a.o. two logo’s that drove me into a direction that I would normally not follow myself, but afterwards I’m glad they did.
14. The first days of December I participated at a fair in Damme (close to where I live) where I had the opportunity to show what calligraphy can be and what I do to a wide range of people. I kept saying to myself I should do this more often. After months of maddening solitude in my studio, I finally got some feedback. One can get so used to (or in my case: bored by) what you do, but for the outsider, it still looks like magic I felt all those years ago. Talking to the public made me look at my own work with fresh eyes. Hmm, maybe not that bad after all…Anyhow, some nice contacts and commissions came out of it.
15. Back in the studio however, doubts came creeping in again (no surprise there, it happens to me all the time ) but this time I suddenly felt drained of all energy. I questioned every single stroke, every single idea, every single colour in my work – it paralyzed me completely – many times I just wanted to throw it all away and return to my school job, for I hated my work, I hated calligraphy (which is not the right attitude when you’re teaching it). Doom and gloom all over the place - happens to all creative people, I’m told, but could I really call myself ‘creative’ ? No way.
16. Things pass, however, and no Prozac was needed to put myself back on track. I closed the gesso-pot for a while and returned to lettering. At least three different persons, unknown to me, had asked me, out of the blue, if I could please show more letters again. They had followed me closely (without me being aware of it) and deplored the fact that I was straying away from calligraphy such as we know it.
17. So the last couple of days, I’m happy to say that I found joy again in my work – there are even some workable ‘ideas’ (now, thàt was a long time ago) being tossed around in my head, working their way out onto the paper.
So far the update of what I did. In the months to come, there are workshops scheduled in Flanders and abroad, some commissions for wallpainting and other stuff, but there’s still time enough for making new work.
Cheers. P.S. Oh, I did renew some of my pages on my site, especially the gallery has become more user-friendly… I hope.
Feels like my teaching life has started again. I gave a weekend workshop in Niort (France) towards the end of April for the association EVA and then I toured for two weeks in the US, teaching first at Cheerio and then heading to Washington, Memphis and finally Chicago. Thoroughly enjoyed it all. My hosts were all too good to be true and my students paid attention and never protested but kept smiling when I pushed them relentlessly. That used to be slightly different when I was teaching Latin at Grammar school
Within three weeks I’m off again, this time for the NorthWest Calligraphy Conference in Portland (OR), and prior to that a more intimate three-day workshop in Santa Fe (NM). In August I’ll teach at the CLAS Festival in Malvern, U.K.
In between, I’m enjoying the lovely weather and return to my studio towards the evening to get some things done. There’s an exhibition planned for August…
In September I’ll fly again to the States for another series of workshops. I’ll start in Miami (a few days on the beach is included), take John Stevens’ workshop in Cheerio (can’t wait for that), fly down to Kansas city for two workshops (one of them for the lettering staff of Hallmark) and end in Atlanta.
I have a few local workshops scheduled in Winter and in Spring 2013 I’ll do an extensive tour in the North West territories of the US (7 different venues).
Two months ago I finished another small film for the ‘Latin Lovers’ collaboration with harpist Andrea Voets. It’s about Orpheus, the legendary and unfortunate singer-songwriter of Greek mythology. You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c4buRVgwWAY
That’s all for now, I guess.
This week I filmed pieces of my work, a pianist at work and my own hand at work. It all resulted in a film with Beethovens ‘Pathétique’ as musical score, an absolutely wonderful piece of piano music if you ask me.
I want to share it with you, my trusted followers. Hope you will enjoy it: there’s lot of live writing in it. Of course, you can forward the link to other people if you want. Here it is:
I must confess I neglected my blog terribly. Almost forgot I had one. But I suppose you all have better things to do than anxiously waiting for an update. Still, here it is.
What happened since October last year ? Oh, the exhibit in the castle of Poeke went fine. Sold three pieces, all to the same man, I found out later, a teacher in graphic design – which is nice to know.
Eye on Art Gallery, located in the design district of Carmel, Indiana, bought some work and will hopefully become a distributor of my work in the States.
I accepted to participate in a few exhibitions locally. One of the gallery-owners urged me to work larger and on canvas, which I did… for a few days. I may well return to the canvas, but that was hard labour and I still need to find my path there.
I also promised a contribution for a big project with prisoners writing texts and European artists giving shape to their words. More news about that will follow.
I made a series of works, inspired by the ancient myth of Theseus and Ariadne, to accompany the harp music performed by Andrea Voets, an old student of mine. These works resulted into a film which is projected while Andrea plays the harp. You can see a fragment of that collaboration on Youtube
I’m currently taking lessons in Premiere Elements and that movie was the first one I did. I made another one on my exhibit in Antwerp, that I also posted on Youtube
I sent some material (video, pictures and comments) to Denis Brown, who wanted to include me in the ‘guest section’ of his highly reputed Calligraphy TV program. And I am thrilled with the result. People who have subscribed to the series will understand why. To find yourself among calligraphers like Brody Neuenschwander, John Stevens, Thomas Ingmire and Hans Joachim Burgert… it made my day.
I’ve started the coaching of the students who will contribute to a big exhibition in April. In my class I have seasoned calligraphers as well as painters and aquarellists who have never seen a nib at close range. And yet they will all incorporate letters into their work.
I’ve added another teaching topic to my little list. I’ve become quite familiar with the Pentel Point Brush and made a workshop around it, which I’ve tried out a few times already locally.
I haven’t done a lot of teaching lately, but I worked on various commissions ànd I took the time to fill my portfolio again. You can see some of it by visiting my website and clicking on the button ‘new work’ on the welcome page.
In the meantime, nearly all my copies of ‘Thoughtful Gestures’ have left the building. I have about 40 copies left. If you decide that life is definitely worthless without a copy of that book, you’d better be quick.
And finally, I sent notice to a few calligraphy guilds in the States that I would plan one or two tours and that I’m available for bookings. One tour is getting shape and will bring me in the North West (Montana, Washington, possibly Minnesota and Canada) in Spring 2013. Another one is scheduled for Autumn this year. If your guild is interested to be part of that tour, feel free to contact me as soon as possible.
I guess that’s all for now. Thanks for reading this. I’ll be back.