What to do when you’ve got nothing

As any creative person knows, there are times when you know you really should be practicing or coming up with new projects, but all your brain really wants to do is shut down, play Skyrim, and watch old TV. You search through your mind for something creative and new and original, and all you find is a gray haze where ideas used to be. You’ve got nothing.


And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with that.

Everybody goes through a slump from time to time, or hits a plateau where progress used to be. As long as you’re not doing Your Creative Thing professionally and paying the bills with it, it’s okay to let things get a little slack when the idea well is running a little low. As a hobbyist, there’s no one sitting in judgement over you – no boss, no client, no one. So it’s fine to take a little time off to recharge.

But – and this is important – don’t completely quit. Assign yourself one small creative task to do every day, and make sure you do it. It doesn’t have to challenge you as a Creator, but it should at least keep your skills active and allow you to produce something. For me, it’s the Word of the Day over on Reddit’s calligraphy sub. As long as I’ve done that, then I’ve done my work for the day. That box is ticked. Anything after that is bonus.

2015-08-10 18.32.37
It’s not always beautiful, folks.

You can do the same thing – Google “word of the day” and take what comes up. Here:

There – that ought to keep us occupied.

So, if you’re like me, and the creative juices aren’t very juicy right now, it’s okay – the muse will return, and hopefully with some good souvenirs from its vacation. Until then, keep your habits good, your instruments clean, and your hopes up.

Do you have any sure-fire techniques for beating the doldrums? Let us know in the comments!

Ink Drop Limerick for August 2015

Once again, it is time for the Ink Drop – thanks to the fine people at Goulet Pens. Let’s see what this month has to offer!

Ink Drop Limerick 15


First of all, Edward Gorey was awesome, no doubt about it. Going to have to see if he did more when Halloween comes around.

The Faber-Castell Stone Grey is quite lovely. It’s got a wee bit of pink to it in large quantities, but on a small scale, it’s a solid dark grey. The second ink is an outright lie – It’s called Sahara Grey, but there’s no way in any kind of world that this ink is grey. It’s green – in fact it’s really close to J. Herbin’s Vert Olive, just with a little less yellow. The name aside, it’s a good pale green, and in a broad-nib pen it would probably work just fine.

Faber-Castell’s Moss Green is green. Mossy enough, I suppose. It’s got a little bit of blue to it, but it’s green through and through.

Little more needs to be said about Apache Sunset – it’s a fan favorite for a lot of fountain pen holders and calligraphers who deign to use fountain pen ink. It shades from a pale orange to a deep red, and always looks good. I have a nearly-full bottle of the stuff. Can’t go wrong with Apache Sunset, I always say…

And the Burnt Sienna is a good reddish-orange, as the name implies. And what probably doesn’t show in the scan, but I can see it in person, is that there’s a greenish sheen to the edges of the heavier letters – the “h” in “he’s” stands out best from where I’m sitting.

So, some good inks this month, and I think I can find uses for all five. As for the limericks, if you know any good ones for future Ink Drops, let me know in the comments – but keep them clean!

Riddle Me This…

I’ve always enjoyed riddles, probably since I read The Dark Tower series by Stephen King. There’s a key section in the fourth book where a psychotic monorail forces the protagonists to answer riddles in order to save their own lives. Classic evil AI strategy, really.

When I was teaching EFL I would sometimes use riddles on higher-level students to show creative uses of the language. It was good fun, really – for me at least.

So it should be no surprise that I would use riddles as calligraphy practice. Enjoy these!

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#calligraphy #riddles #copperplate

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#riddles #calligraphy #Uncial

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Angels and Demons

I do sometimes enjoy organized lists of things, and I’ve had these in my Evernote for a while now.

So there’s the Kabbalah, a Jewish mystical tradition, to which I was introduced through Alan Moore’s utterly amazing series Promethea. One large part of it is the organization of the spiritual world through a “Tree of Life” known as the Sephiroth which depicts the ten celestial spheres which surpass this poor, mortal world. Within the Kabbalistic traditions, each of these ten worlds is highly detailed in many ways, and each one is governed by an angel. So I decided to write them out.

Angel 01 - Metatron Angel 02 - Raziel Angel 03 - Tzaphkiel Angel 04 - Tzadquiel Angel 05 - Kamael Angel 06 - Raphael Angel 07 - Haniel Angel 08 - Michael Angel 09 - Gabriel Angel 10 - Sandalphon


Now because the Kabbalah is big on organization, it should go without saying that where there is a map of God’s creation of the spiritual universe, there must also be the opposite – a shadow map of sorts that describes the inverse of what God wants for Creation. Enter the Qliphoth – the Tree of Husks which represent our obstacles to God, and each of these ten worlds is ruled by a demon. So I wrote those out as well…

Demon 01 - Satan Demon 02 - Beelzebub Demon 03 - Lucifuge Demon 04 - Astaroth Demon 05 - Asmodeus Demon 06 - Belphegor Demon 07 - Baal Demon 08 - Adramelech Demon 09 - Lilith Demon 10 - Nehema


So there we go – some interesting names and titles and a whole metaphysical universal superstructure barely appreciated even a bit. I fully expect to see some annoyed people in the comments, so remember – it’s all in fun. Enjoy!

Welcome Home for August

I think I mentioned before, but I like to make sure I put my calligraphy to some sort of practical use from time to time. Here’s the one for August, which I knocked out a couple of days early on the occasion of the visit of The Boyfriend’s parents.


For what it’s worth, the visit went well. We had a lovely lunch, and I got to show them some of the work I’d done over the last year. This was actually the first time I’d shown these works to people in person, rather than in a digital form, and it’s a different experience. Digitization is a wonderful thing to have, but it simultaneously takes some of the life away from a work and emphasizes its flaws. At least, that’s what happens when I do it.

Anyway, welcome home, everyone. Have a good month!