Joy and Sorrow


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Today I practiced some italic calligraphy. Truth be told, I struggle with anything that looks flow-y. It feels as unnatural to me as forcing myself to write with my left hand, and I often come out at the end of it feeling frustrated and tired. Not frustrated enough to quit, though. 🙂

The poem Joy and Sorrow is one of my favorite poems. I learned to read at a very young age, and since my mom is a voracious reader, I often putter about her bookshelves looking for things to read. I think I was in third grade when I first came across her collection of Khalil Gibran poems, and this particular one really caught my attention. The lyrical quality of the words and the way they painted a picture in my mind started a lifelong fascination with poetry.

On Joy and Sorrow
by Khalil Gibran

Your joy is your sorrow unmasked.
And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears.
And how else can it be?
The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain.
Is not the cup that holds your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven?
And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives?
When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.
When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

Some of you say, “Joy is greater thar sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.”
But I say unto you, they are inseparable.
Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed.

Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy.
Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
When the treasure-keeper lifts you to weigh his gold and his silver, needs must your joy or your sorrow rise or fall.

Pen: Nemosine Neutrino with 1.1mm nib
Ink: The pen is loaded with Diamine Amber, then I dip the tip of the nib in De Atramentis Thomas Alva Edison for the red variation.

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Blending Inks in Calligraphy


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Since I’ve been playing with inks for my new journal refill, I thought I’d try something I often see many of my calligraphy friends do–blend inks. I admit I’m a bit finicky about this. I like to thoroughly clean my pens before changing inks because I don’t like the inks mixing. Deliberately mixing inks for calligraphy is pretty interesting, though. I put a teeny-tiny drop of ink in a palette, dip the tip of the nib (say that ten times, fast) in the ink and write. For the photo above, the ink in the pen is Kyoiro Soft Snow of Ohara, and I dipped it in Kyo No Oto Yamabukiiro. It’s even more fascinating to see the effect in person.

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For this page above, I used a pen loaded with Kyo No Oto Yamabukiiro, dipped in De Atramentis Thomas Alva Edison to give it that autumn-y feel. It’s actually quite fun to do, and the resulting calligraphic work looks colorful and vibrant.

Psalm 90:17


Here’s one of my favorite verses in uncial and Baybayin (ancient Philippine script). I think the words of the verse are beautiful. I love writing verses in uncial because I think the style matches the words very well. Also, I can’t write in beautiful, flowy script to save my life. ^_^

Psalm 90:17

Psalm 90:17

Pens and Inks used:

Franklin Christoph Model 02, 1.1mm stub – De Atramentis Thomas Alva Edison
Bexley Corona in Blueberry Cream, 1.1mm stub – Kyo Iro Soft Snow of Ohara

My First Calligraphy Spot Meet


Calligraphy Spot Meet (6-17-2017)

Last Saturday, my husband and I ventured out of the South to  brave the (infamous) EDSA traffic and attend a Calligraphy Spot meet. I’ve been an admin for this wonderful FB group for a while, but I have not been able to attend any of the meets until last Saturday. We made quite a happy mess at La Creperie Shangri La, spreading out our papers, writing implements, watercolors, and other fun art stuff over their tables, in between delicious bites of crepes, salads, and pasta.

It was a wonderful experience, hanging out with people who so obviously have fallen in love with the written word and all the different kinds of art forms that celebrate it. I conducted an informal sit-down class about Baybayin (oftentimes incorrectly referred to as Alibata), a pre-colonial way of writing from the Philippines. It was an interesting experience, teaching the basic principles, but the group was eager to learn, and so they were Baybayin-literate by the end of it. The basic principle is quite easy to learn. Recognizing the characters will come with time and practice.

What’s more interesting for me was how each person’s creativity shone through in any kind of calligraphy they do. After teaching them how to read and write in Baybayin, we each applied it through writing using our own styles and preferred tools. We used brush pens, quills, parallel pens, automatic pens, brush pens, watercolor brushes, and more.

After the class, we puttered around and talked about art. Some were doing watercolor paintings, sharing artworks to take home afterwards. I enjoyed looked at other people’s output. I especially enjoyed looking through one of the members’ visual journals. It’s an A6-sized Hobonichi that contains little drawings and paintings and small notes of what went on each day, including what meals he ate. It was so cute, and each page seems so alive and vibrant.

I’m usually quite shy in social situations, but in any meet that involves a common love for art and art tools (such as calligraphy meets, pen meets, artambays), I feel quite at home. You’re not pressured to be anybody you’re not. You can be as socially awkward as you are, nobody minds. The common love for artistic expression is like a supersized welcome mat that invites you in and makes you want to stay.

I’m hoping to join the next Calligraphy Spot meet, and I’m especially looking forward to a meet in the South area soon. 🙂

Why Calligraphy?


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I joined a group of calligraphy enthusiasts on FB, Calligraphy Spot. It’s a fun group. Everybody’s nice and accommodating, you learn a lot from the other members, and there are weekly calligraphy themes. This week’s theme is “Why Calligraphy?”, which made me wonder at my fascination with it, even if I have a love-hate relationship with it. My answer was because I love words. I like how stringing letters together make words, and stringing words together make up phrases and sentences that mean something. A physical manifestation of something as abstract as thoughts.

I really want to learn copperplate or Spencerian calligraphy, but I’m afraid that I’ve stopped and started this several times because I feel like it goes against my natural hand. I am more at ease with uncial calligraphy, block lettering, and the only kind of dikit-dikit calligraphy that I can manage through brush pens. In any case, I enjoy my attempts at calligraphy and I enjoy looking at other people’s works. I appreciate how people can make words aesthetically pleasing in many different ways using different tools.

Same old show.


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I really thought that all the hate and poo-slinging will slow down and grind to a halt after the elections. I was wrong. It looks like it will be noisy for a while. Actually, I’m coming to terms with the possibility that this is  the new normal. To care about the sanctity of human life, to care about due process and how the loss of it is a reckless way to go about a “crusade” that has good intentions, to have a balanced view instead of an idol-worshiping attitude for the new president… all that has become very unpopular. All of a sudden, we’re surrounded with people who “want change” and are less bothered by loss of human lives. Like sharks driven crazy by the smell of blood. All of a sudden we’re surrounded  by family and friends who feel strongly about rallying around the ideal. I sometimes wonder if these people shout louder and are more offensive and boisterous about their newfound “cause” because deep in their bones they know something’s wrong about all this.

I’m not one for debates, and I think it’s foolish and self-destructive to alienate my family and friends for the sake of pushing your brand of politics (of all things) in such an aggressive and offensive way. I’ve resorted to not looking through my Facebook feed (which, with my decidedly introverted personality, was once a favorite way of keeping tabs on family and friends) because of all the ugliness in it. It’s not just the news that is ugly, it’s the attitude of people. Somehow, things have grown much worse. Filipinos have become even more divided. Many of us have lost our civility and it’s like we don’t know how to balance our views and emotions anymore. There’s a reason the terms “Dutertard” and “Yellowtard” and all the other -tards were coined (makes me cringe to even read it now), and the evidence for that is all over social media.

In the narrow-mindedness that is prevailing these days, there’s no room for reason. If addicts and pushers are brutally killed, then they got justice. If one is given due process, it means justice was not done. If you’re anti-Marcos, then you’re automatically pro-LP. If you’re not red, you’re yellow. If you’re critical of Duterte, then you’re anti-Duterte and you and your family need to die violent, inhuman deaths. If you’re against the all-out-war on drugs, then you’re in cahoots with these druggies. If you clamor for due process for these druggies, then you’re condoning the violence they have done or will do in the future. If you want some checks and balances to be placed to keep the government from exploiting their power, then you’re against the drug war. If this…then that. The one with the loudest mouth, the one who can scoop up the biggest mound of shit and sling it around without care or second thought is the winner. Winner of what, exactly? No one knows.

At the end of the day, people have pulled so violently on the already tense connections that we have with each other, and boy, it’s exhausting. Humanity is exhausting. I’m all peopled-out, honestly.

Over the Misty Mountains Cold


Over the Misty Mountains Cold

Here’s a page of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Over the Misty Mountains Cold which I did in uncial calligraphy. The pen is Bexley Corona (in Blueberry Cream) and the ink is Diamine Bilberry. It was a lot of fun to write because it’s very long, and the style fits right into the theme of the song.

As much as I really, really want to learn other kinds of scripts, this is really a more natural fit to my regular hand.