Beautiful Alphabets with Massimo Polello @ Burnaby Sports Complex West
Mar 27 @ 4:11 pm – 5:11 pm

An exciting opportunity to study with Italian calligrapher, Massimo Polello.  Details to be announced soon.

Italic Script with Renée Alexander @ Surrey Arts Centre
Apr 22 @ 9:30 am – 4:00 pm


with Renée Alexander

In this workshop we will begin by placing Italic in the Family Tree of lettering styles. An in depth look at historic examples will familiarize participants with the commonalities of Italic variations. Italic was developed in Italy, hence its name, and was also known as Chancery Cursive. It was a response to speeding up the Humanist hand. After the introduction of the printing press in Europe and Britain the method of book production changed. As a result the medieval scribe disappeared and what emerged during this period was the writing master. Masters such as Arrighi and Palatino will be discussed to appreciate why their names live on in type fonts. We will spend time practicing a basic Italic with order and grace, more challenging than one might expect. Exemplars and examples will be provided to assist in achieving the subtle manipulations to raise the level of your lettering.

• Non water-proof black ink
• Pen holders
• Mitchell roundhand nibs – size 2 and size 3 or equivalent (Speedball C3 & C4)
• Smooth white practice paper – 11” x 14” or 11” x 17”
• HB pencil
• Eraser
• Metal ruler (at least 18”)
• Water pot for rinsing nibs
• Paper towels
• Slant board (optional)
• A couple of pieces of good paper – 8.5” x 11”. They can be white, off white or cream.
HP watercolour paper or Canson Mi-Tiente are good choices.
You are welcome to bring any other tools or materials you wish to use.

Coloured Pencil and Calligraphy: A Technique Sampler Book with Kristen Doty @ Burnaby Sports Complex West
May 20 @ 9:30 am – May 21 @ 4:00 pm


with Kristen Doty

Colored pencil is a contemporary and popular medium employed by many artists today. On its own, colored pencil can be used to create amazing and beautiful works of art. It is readily available, doesn’t require a lot of set up, clean up, or even water. Used with
other media, and/or surfaces, a variety of interesting and beautiful effects can be achieved and the amount of time the process of applying colored pencil takes can be reduced.
By completing a series of basic technique exercises, you will learn how to use colored pencil or hone your existing skills. We will touch on color theory, values, and color mixing, and then use these techniques to blend with calligraphy, both in making the letters
themselves and by adding illustrations utilizing colored pencils. Other media and surfaces will be discussed and demonstrated, and some will be used in class to open up exciting possibilities and stir your creativity resulting in new applications and ideas. Finally, the exercises will be sewn together using a simple Japanese binding to form a book for ease of future reference. No drawing or bookbinding experience is necessary.


Colored Pencils – Good, artist’s quality, at least a set of 12 assorted colors (more is better)
(I prefer Sanford – Prismacolor [aka Berol Prismacolor or Prismacolor Premier], but there are other good brands: Derwent – Artist’s Coloursoft; Faber Castell – Polychromos; Lyra – Polycolors; Caran d’Ache – Pablo).
Pencil sharpener – what you have: hand held, battery, or electric & extension cord
Graphite drawing pencils, HB & 2H (2B also nice if you have one)
Eraser – Bring what you have. The soft white Pentel Click eraser is nice. Staedler white and/or Magic Rub are also good.
Black ink – your favorite
Calligraphy nibs & holders – Speedball C-0 or C-1 & Your favorite… whatever you have…
Folded ruling, pointed, etc.
Watercolor Brush(es)–at least one medium size (#5 – 8) round.
Old brush for loading nibs
Masking or drafting tape
X-acto knife
Jar or water container & paper towels
Gouache &/or Watercolor – (Artist’s quality) A couple tubes of each… whatever you have. We can share. If unsure about color, bring your favorite colors or a primary set: Red, Yellow, Blue.
White plastic watercolor palette – (10-well round is nice, 6-well rectangular is fine)

Optional items – Bring what you have:
Bone Folder (extremely helpful)
Round stylus
Dishcloth or small terry cloth or microfiber cloth (best)
Drafting Brush
Watercolor colored pencils (small set or one to try)
Portable drawing board
Material Fee (included in the cost of seminar) includes all papers (an assortment of high quality papers); needles & linen thread, and other materials supplied by the instructor.

Expressive Flat Brush with Massimo Polello @ Burnaby Sports Complex West
Sep 8 @ 9:30 am – 4:00 pm




A class that will aim to learn the fantastic world of Massimo’s favorite tool – the flat brush – as a tool to express yourself.
Through practical exercises and compositions we will examine the quality of rhythmical  igns and several historical calligraphic styles of writing, adapting this tool with great  lexibility and exploring the expressive possibilities. Learning to use the flat brush means  having the ability to write on any surface – walls, textile, wood, glass….


  • one flat brush Winsor & Newton Series 995 size #3/4
  • Extra assorted flat brushes (around 1 1/2 inches  to 2 inches bigger or smaller)
  • a small ceramic tile *(around 4 inches by 4 inches) for gouche, or similar
  • extra0fine gouache in black and white and colours of your choice  – sugested TALENS or WINSOR & NEWTON.

For registration form Fall_seminars 2017.

Beautiful Alphabets with Massimo Polello @ Burnaby Sports Complex West
Sep 9 @ 9:30 am – Sep 10 @ 4:00 pm


with Massimo Polello



This course will explore the possibilities of contemporary calligraphy by studying a number of original manuscripts. Each manuscript is unique and its form is linked to a series of fortuitous, unrepeatable factors – the historical context, the precise moment in time, the calligrapher’s hand and his emotions. This study of theory will then lead us to create an
alphabetic style for each manuscript work

During a calligraphy course of this kind, it is usually the teacher who provides a pre-constructed and pre-elaborated model of writing, but in this case the teacher will encourage each student to study the fascinating letterforms of one of the manuscripts, its rhythm, its links, its spacing, its characteristics and its uniqueness.

We will develop the letters of the alphabet used in our manuscript to give them a more creative and freer aspect and thereby create a “new” kind of writing that is more rhythmic and dynamic, and at times downright illegible, but which has its roots in a historical form from the past. Our intention, therefore, is to breathe new life into the letters and rhythms of the past by passing them through the filter of our own personality and sensitivity, our experiences and emotions, to make them once again unique and unrepeatable.

By following a special method, each student will do practical exercises and use alternative and unusual writing tools to the background of sounds, music and images.

To conclude, we will bind an “artist’s book”, to give a new form and lease of life to the original manuscript from which we started on our fascinating journey through the art of writing.


Supply List


  • Base supply for drawing : lines, rubber, pencils…..
  • personal usual and unusual tools for calligraphy: nibs different size from 1mm (any type, Brause, Speedball, Mitchell) automatic-pen, cola pen, rouling-pen, invented tools.
  • A small round pointed brush

– 1 very flat brush size around 60 mm width or more (similar to this : OR )

  • 2 plastic glasses or glass, some flat plastic dishes


  • Coulours different types and that you want: gouaches (extra-fine quality only) different color (yes,white), water-colors, ecoline, acrylics….. (only what has already)
  • walnut husk and black Sumi ink

>>1 sketch paid-block A3 (42×29,7cm) half rough paper 90gr/m (recommended Canson XL-Skizz-Block – West winds Pad ….) or simply photocopy paper

>> at least 10 sheets 160 gr. size 50x 70 cm Velin Arches (please contact me if you couldn’t find this paper)

>> 1 sheet heavy paper minimum 350 gr. to use as the cover of the book (dark color)

>> 2/3 sheets black paper 50×70 cm (suggested Canson Mi-Teinte)

  • Material necessary for the assemblage-binding book (needles, wire, bone folder, awl …)
  • Some personal texts/ quotes to be chosen carefully

For registration form click Fall_seminars 2017

Gentle Gothics with Alice Young @ Burnaby Sports Complex West
Oct 21 @ 9:30 am – 4:00 pm



Alice Young

In this class we’ll look beyond the well-known, well-loved, dense and forceful blackletter, to learn a more gentle, sensitive version of gothic letterforms. This class focusses on using  the Pilot Parallel pen, and we’ll start with the most basic penstrokes, then move on to  more advanced pen strokes, and finally on to letterforms, and basic spacing. Videos,  guidelines and practice sheets from my online classes will be used to facilitate learning. This class is appropriate for all levels of students, beginner to advanced, and the teacher  will work with all students at whatever level they are on. We’ll look at the importance of  simplicity – which balances the ornate nature of these beautiful letterforms.

Supply Fee: $8.00

Materials List:

• one Pilot parallel pen – 3.8mm size (green lid). These are available through John Neal Booksellers (online),and probably in your local art supply store. Please bring all the items in the package (including rubber converter and little black nib cleaner).
• your usual basic toolbox: pencils, rulers, eraser, etc.
• small water container
• paper towels or cloths for cleaning
• a second Parallel pen (ideal for colour mixing, but I will have extra pens as well)
• pipettes
• bottles of coloured ink (water based or acrylic) and/or watercolours
• your favorite practice paper
• extra cartridges of the blue-black Pilot Mixable Colour inks

Capitals with Renée Alexander @ Burnaby Sports Complex West
Nov 18 @ 9:30 am – 4:00 pm




In this one-day workshop we will begin by taking a close look at Roman Inscriptional Capitals. We will study their elegant proportions and fine form from historical examples. It will be obvious to the observer why they are still in use today lasting two millennia. Participants will practice a less challenging version of Roman Capitals. From this practice it will become evident that geometric shapes on which Roman Capitals are based, are difficult for the human hand. This is not an excuse not to try and master them, but rather to explore a more hand-friendly way to make capitals. There will be time to have fun composing a piece using these modifications

•Pen holders
•William Mitchell Roundhand nibs – sizes 2 and 3 or equivalent (Speedball C3 & C4)
•Non-waterproof black ink
•Metal ruler at least 18”
•HB pencil
•Slant board (optional)
•Water pot
•11” x 14” or 11” x 17” white practice paper
•8.5” x 11” good quality white or off-white paper
(HP watercolour or Canson Mi-Tientes are good choices)
•Old tooth brush for cleaning nibs
You are welcome to bring any other tools or materials you wish to use.

Ben Shahn Lettering @ Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West
May 26 @ 10:00 am – 4:00 pm

Ben Shahn Lettering

with Violet Smythe

Ben Shahn (1898-1968) holds a special place amongst American lettering artists of the twentieth century. He was a painter, printmaker and photographer, as well as a creative inventor of letterforms. We will take his modern ‘versal’ and hand drawn letters as inspiration for our own forms. Violet will teach us this hand using colourful inks, as well as metallic and white inks on dark paper. Let the possibilities unfold!
Supply fee TBA.

SUPPLY LIST (please bring):
• Folded pen(s), inks – your fav colour(s), liquid water colour(optional)
• Twinkling H2Os, Yasutomo paints or finetec or similar
• White gouache or Dr Martin Pen white or bleed proof white
• Paper – Genoa bond or strathmore 400 series sketchbook or text wove or something you like to work on that takes ink really well
• Dark paper or cardstock
• 2 water containers
• Paper towels
• Palette with 5 or six wells
• Brush for loading

Download the registration form Ben Shahn Class

Line Dances: Flourished Borders with Heather Victoria Held @ Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West
May 25 @ 9:30 am – May 26 @ 4:00 pm

Line Dances: Flourished Borders

with Heather Victoria Held

The offhand flourish is a powerful design tool that can be used to create imaginative border designs. Using straight lines, refined curves and foliate elements we can create stunning borders and accents that will enhance your script lettering. Your flourishes can become as detailed and intricate as you like as we progress through the class. Colour can be added with watercolour or coloured pencil or you can choose to leave your designs in pen and ink. See what emerges on the paper.

This class is open to all skill levels.

Required Supplies:
Straight or oblique penholder with medium flexible nib such as the Zebra G
Either McCaffery Brown Ink, McCaffery Penman’s Black Ink or Old World Iron Gall
Bleedproof White with mixing brush
Pencil, Eraser, Metal Cork Back Ruler (at least 5”), Note taking supplies, Paper
Towel, small water dish
Your Favourite practice paper such as Rhodia or Maruman (Gridded or Blank)
A few sheets of cardstock dark colours as well as ivory/cream cut to 5” x7” size.
An alternative to ivory cardstock would be 140 lb. Hot Press Watercolour Paper,
or Strathmore 400 Series Drawing Paper. Bring what you have, and we will play!

Optional: (Bring the following supplies if you want to add colour to your designs)
A few coloured pencils in floral colours, or watercolour/watercolour pencils with
small pointed round watercolour brush and water dish.
Gold Gouache or Gold Watercolour

Note: These designs can be done entirely in pen and ink without additional colours but
are spectacular when colour is added. I will be using coloured pencil, watercolour
pencils and watercolour for the various designs. Bring anything you like to use or
opt to travel light for this class.

Heather will be using:
Metallic Watercolour or Gouache or Gold Leaf
Watercolour Pencils
Dianne Townsend Pastels (Terrages in Blue and Green)
Sakura Clear Stardust Gelly Roll Pen
Daniel Smith Watercolour (John Neal sells a Dot Card of her favourite colours)

Click here for printable pdf

Click here for registration form

Captivating Curves: Creating Acanthus Foliate Designs with Heather Victoria Held @ Burnaby Lake Sports Complex West
May 27 @ 9:30 am – 4:00 pm

Captivating Curves: Creating Acanthus Foliate Designs
with Heather Victoria Held

For centuries, the acanthus leaf has been used decoratively in illuminated manuscript borders, sculptures, architecture, textiles and wallpaper. Calligraphers and illuminators enjoy its charm and versatility as it can meander around your page as a striking gilded border, adorn capital  letters, serve as graceful line endings or add interest on any corner of your paper. There are simple strategies to learn as you cultivate their curves and they offer endless possibilities. We begin the class in our study of the ornamental acanthus with pencil sketches and then move to designing, gilding and painting a foliate spray that will be suitable for framing. Unleash the magic of this graceful plant as we combine it with floral elements. This class will enhance yourskills as a calligrapher and illuminator as you learn how to cultivate these charming foliate curves.

Supply List:
Instructor’s Note: My supply list is constantly evolving as I experiment with new techniques. There are a variety of ways to get similar results with your designs while using different materials than what I use. Please don’t feel you have to use the exact supplies that I am using. The exception is the ink for outlining as very few products will do this job well. I recommend using either McCaffery Brown Ink or McCaffery Black Ink or Ziller Buffalo Brown Ink. Walnut Ink will not work. I have listed a few of my favourite watercolours in the supply list but you may use any colours at all. Please contact me at if you have any questions about supplies.

Drawing Supplies:
Gridded Paper or Gridded Journal for Sketches
140LB Hot Press Watercolour Paper cut down to 5”x7” size. (3-4 pieces will be plenty for your design with extra sheets available to test techniques)
Mechanical Pencil, Kneaded Eraser, White Vinyl Eraser, Ruler
Tracing Paper, 4H pencil, Scotch Repositionable Tape
Note: if you have a portable lightweight lightpad, you can bring that instead of the Tracing
Paper and 4H pencil, but please don’t feel you need to purchase a lightpad.

Inking Supplies:
Straight Penholder and Medium Flexible Nib such as a Zebra G
Either McCaffery Brown, McCaffery Black or Ziller Buffalo Brown Ink. The brown inks give a
more subdued effect than the black ink. If you substitute the ink, be sure it is waterproof and test it on a piece of your watercolour paper to make sure the ink does not feather or bleed.

Gilding Supplies:
23 K Gold Leaf (one sheet will do several projects), Gilding Medium such as Miniatum Ink,
Scissors for cutting gold leaf, inexpensive synthetic pointed brush for gilding medium (I use a size 0 or 00 for this step)
Note: These designs are spectacular when gilded, but if you prefer, you can use either Finetec Gold watercolour or Gold Gouache instead of Gold Leaf for your designs.

Painting Supplies:
Any Artist quality brand of watercolour will work, either tubes or pan colours. I use mainly
Daniel Smith and Holbein colours.
A few of my favourite colours are suggested below:
Sap Green,
Quinachridone Pink or Permanent Rose,
Terra Verte,
Paynes Grey,
Titanium White,
Manganese Blue
Shadow Violet

A small china plate is helpful for mixing colours if your palette does not have a mixing area. I always have either Titanium White or Bleedproof White with me for special techniques. John Neal Booksellers sells a Dot Card of my favourite colours which can be purchased inexpensively and will be enough pigment for several designs. Daniel Smith also sells a full range of their colours in the dot card format. Both of those options are good if you are new to watercolour and just want to try it out.
Watercolour pencils are helpful to have with you in a few floral colours like greens and pinks but not necessary. If you want to use watercolour pencils along with the watercolours the only brand that will not work well is Inktense.

Small Pointed Round Watercolour Brushes size 0 and 1. I use Kolinsky Sable Brushes, but a good quality synthetic pointed round brush will also work.
Water dish and paper towel or washable white bar towel

Optional Embellishments: Finetec Metallic Watercolours, Sakura Gelly Roll Pen. I will bring Swarovski Crystals and Gem Tac Glue with me to share if you want to add a little more sparkle to these charming designs.

Click here for printable brochure Captivating Curves

Click here for registration form HH registration