Gripping Maternal Observation

This has nothing to do with handwriting. Or calligraphy. Well, maybe only figuratively speaking.

OK, let’s call it, genetic writing.

It’s been interesting to me since I started having kids some 30 years ago. (SO interesting that I made an 11-year span of it, producing 8!) Phil’s grown up looking like his dad. Hope looks like my side of the family. Amelia takes after Ron’s sister. Teresa looks like me, but her nice calves are just like Ron’s mom… In some ways they all look alike, have like interests and like negative traits. They all mumble except Phil. They each dig in their heels when they have to do something new.

My great-grand father.

My great-grand father, Johann Aumuller.

When Michael was really small, probably around 2, he picked up a crumb on the table with his middle finger and thumb. How many people do that? Yet, I’d observed Ron’s dad use that same organization of finger-skill when fiddling with electronics, specifically, his ham radio equipment. Michael had not spent so much time with his Grampa that he decided to copy. No, it was a random genetic quirk. I call it a Renegade Vagus Gene. (Actually I just now gave it that label.)

THESE ARE MY OWN SUBJECTIVE OBSERVATIONS; NOT SCIENTIFIC, PUBLISHED FACTS. (When I click Publish, am I now published? Oooo!) Neither am I attempting to make some point.

It is just my observation over the 198.5 cumulative years I’ve been a mom that children are bits and pieces of their genetic past, yet, astonishingly they are unique and individual and “fearfully and wonderfully made, ” as King David said in one of his psalms.

Here comes the handwriting part…

My Dad. Same pump, 130 years later.

My Dad, Johann’s grandson. Same pump, 130 years later.

I think we learn the fundamentals from a classic foundation. How to print, how to cursive, how to script, or scribble comes from the examples of those around us. How we loop an a, cross a t, or swoop a g, comes from the immeasurable complexity of how we are constructed. A mystery and a marvel to me!

As far as presenting something instructional or practical to this observation – I hope you’re not looking for that – except to  smile or gasp with me at the unfathomable layers of what made up the person sitting next to you.

All to say… Bea


Last month, we visited NYC. The MET – twice! And still didn’t get through one-fifth of the place! My son Philip led me by the nose through the mass of people to the painting that inspired me as a child. Marie-Denise Villers’ Young Woman Drawing. I gasped. I teared up. I swallowed hard. Partly because here she was before me just as I remembered. Partly because he remembered me showing him the painting in the old ’51 edition of the Book of Knowledge; he was very young.

And, the Sargent paintings. Ahhh. I owe my love of John Singer Sargent to my figure drawing teacher, Richard MacDonald. So nice to meet you in person, Madam X. You are so very beautiful.

The Neue Galerie, an exhibit of Kolomon Moser – look him up, Art Nouveau – was exhilarating. And I fell in love with Klimpt again, both the simplicity of his drawings and the elaboration of his painting, his gilding. Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer, stunning! Oh, to stand beneath paintings I’ve only seen in books.

We went to the Brooklyn Museum and took in the Sargent watercolours. Again, masterpiece-ly designed, coloured, and executed by the master himself.

The visits to these monolithic museums, as does the Norton Simon and The Getty especially, always inspire me to push myself. Though primarily I am a calligrapher/illustrator, I was pushed to get out the paper and pencil again.

Babies and children and young women are difficult to draw, in that, we naturally want to put in too many lines.

The rule is: keep it simple. The more lines you add to your drawing, (this includes shading) the older the subject looks. And what woman – young or not young – wants someone to render every line on her face – there or not there!!

So, anyway, this is my granddaughter Beatrice, at 16 months, captured in all her tiny little sweetness.

Upcoming Shows…

I’ll be showing some of my  work at a couple of Orange County venues this fall. These are not juried shows, but “show-off” shows to promote Lettering, Penmanship, and Calligraphy, as well as the Book Arts.  Prepare to be WOW-ed!

Handmade Book Exhibit   Fountain Valley Library, October 1 – 31, 2013

Calligraphy Exhibit   Michael Punke’s Studio, Fountain Valley, November & December

Also, my fall class begins September 19 in ITALICS: The Classic & The Contemporary. There’s room for one more!

You want all my news at once? Our book is published. Is that cool or what!  Find it on Kindle today;  and coming in hard copy SOON.



Welcome to the Blog Party

I need to keep on bloggin‘.

Just write it.

Got pen?

ADD NEW POST is the beginning. EDIT is progress. PUBLISH is success.

Hands on your hips, a smile on your lips, spirit in your heart, we’re ready to start!

Cross-fit Calligraphy.

Stand tall, talk small, play keyboard.

It’s not how big you are, it’s how big you write.

Talk with your hands. Play with your heart.

Respect all, fear none.

Fly high, do or die, dare to dream, blog extreme.

Is this any way to write a blog? You bet it is!

So, this is what I’ve been up to, my sport! my passion!

Good Pass. Good Set. Good Bye.

for today…

just what you wanted… a Link!

I can’t believe it’s been so long since my last blog. Or since I even looked at this blog! Anyway, I’ve begun putting some old art of mine on Etsy. Mostly prints of previously commissioned work, and more specifically, calligraphed and illustrated verses from the Bible. So, Etsy makes stuff available SO easily!

Next subject: Right after my last blog in November, I bought a Pilot Parallel Pen. I love it. Attached are a couple of things scribbled out. I love the spontaneity and gesture of this kind of writing. What do you think?

The Upright

let the peaceThy Way



Why the Bible? Though I respect the history and substance of  millions of wise and well-meaning men and women, nothing quite hits the mark like God’s Word. He’s laid out in this essential collection everything pertaining to living right. He’s amazingly set forth His standard for men and women to become wise! Anyone wanting a life of rightness needs a standard. Anyone wanting a supply of rightness – and here comes the gospel – need only turn to the man who is right all the time, Jesus Christ, God’s Son.

Thank you for taking the time to read my jottings… Be blessed.

Introducing Mr. Pickering

While in Tucson this weekend, I met an 83-year-old calligrapher. James Pickering, or Jim, was classically-trained in Lancashire, GB since age 10. (That’s how old I was when letters lit my fire!)

He’s done it all – a multitude of hands, depth of research, gilding on parchment – but, his passion and everyday hand is Cantaneo. Beautiful, consistent.

Mr. Pickering’s website is extremely organized and instructional. He answers basic questions, like what is foundational hand? n height? what’s the best ink, paper, instrument for everyday calligraphy? and why. It was such a privilege to meet and speak with him, I want to introduce him to my readers and fellow letter-lovers.

[Introductory exemplar of my everyday italic handwriting]


After 30 years of sharing work space with Ron, our 8 kids, various pets, ever-present laundry, and lists of urgent to-dos, one of the bedrooms has been transformed into an office/studio/work area. I love it, I love it. It is my heaven, my prison, and my freedom. I’m surrounded by photos of half-grown children, posters of art untouchable, and snippets of stuff I’ve produced, which remind me “I will do better next time.”

You hear a song you haven’t thought of since high school, and still you know every word. That’s how visuals are for me. Mr. D’s figure drawing class… the Getty with Ron… Mary’s wedding… the 16 foot dragon… The Torch… galactic poinsettia… Victoria’s cranes… My space – it has known plenty of error and failure, but –  is soaked with showers of blessing.

Projects come and go, as do children. I hold each for a few moments, give what I can, send them off. I am thankful (gratitude is productive in itself) for a present retention of past good. When I get old and lose my memory, at least my space will keep me smiling.

Velox Revisited

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This is a little piece of graphic arts history, a tribute to Velox. Velox processing paper, used for making prints from negatives, was a familiar friend to photographers and production artists until the mid-80s. The book’s cover is a tin from my grandfather’s amateur photography legacy. It holds its own book of colors and notes he made for color referencing. The accordion book includes a brief biography of Velox’s inventor, a few diagrams and explanations for its use, and a sample negative and print from my graphic arts treasure chest.

This is a first!

Accordion-style book.  Higgins drawing ink, Liquid Leaf, Prismacolor, antique papers, vellum, birch. 4.25 x 9.25 x 1 inches when closed.
Now being displayed in LETTERS: An Expression of Culture, Chapman University, til November 19.

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