Cursive handwriting…an art of the past?

I’ve always been in awe of illuminated manuscripts and beautiful script.

JesseTree Illuminated Manuscript

stone.tifI think that cursive handwriting is an aesthetic that will be sorely missed if it goes the way of the past.  A frustration, I’m sure, for anyone who lacked fine motor skills in life; keyboarding would have been a benefit to many.  However, there’s a particular kind of nostalgia that comes with the practice of handwriting/penmanship/cursive…both positive and negative. The discussion is a current one where education is concerned.  I just thought I’d reflect on my own practice of cursive as it relates to my schooling and life.

I learned to print first, but very soon after, learned cursive.  This is a note written in 1964.  I was in grade three. (the poem…dumb!)

Cell December29 cursive handwriting 006


In grades five and six, we were required to own an old-school fountain pen and had our own ink well stored in the top corner of our desk.  We were given lessons on how to maintain our pens, how to blot our writing as we went along and generally, how to form our letters in a very controlled manner.  I wrote many reports and stories using this tool and in looking through my little stack this afternoon, think there is something very beautiful about the predictable text.


??????????In University, I didn’t have access to a typewriter for the first couple of years and so I wrote out my papers in a sort of calligraphy.  I always felt slightly at a disadvantage to people who had more money.  I understand how students feel when they don’t have access to computers at home.

??????????When I boarded with Larry and Nina in the city,  I used Nina’s typewriter.  What a world of difference that made!  When I am a guest teacher with students in today’s schools, they always marvel at my stories about learning keyboarding on a typewriter…how they were used…changing ribbons…back spacing and making corrections.  These are stories of a not-so-distant past.

??????????At some point, my non-slanted cursive became slanted.  I don’t know what that’s about?  It felt like it was somehow aligned with the moment when I took my maiden name back.  At this point, text became a part of my art and even appeared on my walls.

P1050785Christmas Card 2Mueller Art Folder 012I think that cursive handwriting carries a great deal of our personality and when I receive cards or letters in the post, I immediately recognize and respond to the writing on the front of the envelope.  My heart still skips a beat when I encounter a note or something written inside the front cover of a book and the script is in my mother’s handwriting.

Cursive is beautiful.  I hope that it isn’t lost to us.

Mom's writing


The Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul

I enjoyed another wonderful opportunity facilitating with Wendy Lee’s create! program.  When I arrived, somewhat flustered because of a whole series of misadventures, Wendy had the coffee burbling and welcomed me with open arms.  So good to see friends down at the East Village!

Eyes…the windows to our soul?

The origin of this profound thought is attributed to different writers and great thinkers…not precisely as it appears in my title, but in one way or another.  Here are just a few, appearing on the site and shared by the moderator.

The quote originated with Cicero, but in a different form.

The eies. . . are called the windowes of the heart by which love enters into the same.~Stefano Guazzo, Civile Conversation, bk IV (1584)

These lovely lamps, these windowes of the soule~Joshua Sylvester, Devine Weekes and Workes (1591)

The Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs records the Latin “vultus est index animi (also occulus animi index, the face (also, eye) is the index of the mind” and “The eyes…are the wyndowes of the mynde.” (1545)

Today, inspired by a North Park University community art project, we painted eyes. Participants of the North Park University made images of fellow North Park students (or in a couple cases, faculty). 67 blocks using various media, mounted on a gold-leafed tondo. It is now installed in the vestibule of the chapel at North Park University.

Eye ArtI decided to begin create’s! portrait series at the Golden Age Club in the East Village with a look at the basic structure of frontal view eyes.

To begin with, one of the participants arrived, sporting an AWESOME fashion statement and gave me permission to photograph him.  AWESOME!  Yellow lenses?  Are you kidding?  More AWESOME!

P1150556While everyone was tentative, we began…analyzing the eye…exploring its complexities and having some fun along the way.  Newsprint sketches began as small detailed miniatures and gradually grew to be confident explorations of the subject.  More fun!  More laughs!  Quiet concentration!

At create! we modify our projects and expectations as need be…some artists are still dabbling in landscapes of our last sessions…some require assistance due to special needs.  We can adjust!  We want everyone to be in full participation to the degree that they are able!

I had a wonderful time and as we offered as our intention at the beginning of class…building…building nests…building community…I am pleased to say that the resulting experience was a warm and loving experience.  We really looked into one anothers’ eyes!


Professor Plum Takes on a New Look!

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Morning Sketch #4: Rien Poortvliet

It’s very obvious to me lately that I’m in need of some real study of proportion.  This morning’s sketch again lacked the proper posture and proportions for the tiger. (placement of head, thickness of back end…adjusted but still not accurate.)  I’m going to remain positive, however, knowing full well that if you practice a skill every day, you will improve.  I have had a long ‘go’ at painter’s block.  Regular practice is now in the cards.  What I really hope is that I will learn something new every day through that practice.



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Morning Sketch #2: Rien Poortvliet

I woke up later than is usual, but managed to get a sketch done before my dog walk.  Mr. & Mrs. were captured, in awe, by the sheer size of the elephants making their entry onto the ark.

A couple of things I learned today…I’m working in acrylic, while Poortvliet worked in watercolour.  I’m not getting the same sort of action from the paints so only began to dilute them more as I worked today.  I use a flat brush while Poortvliet, as evidenced in his interview, used a variety of brushes, mostly round.  I’ll have to get me some.  I DO sometimes find that my marks are a tad redundant but just love a flat brush for its versatility….saves from a lot of picking up and setting down.  Another thing I learned was that I haven’t used much dry brush in my practice.  I think to imitate this style more accurately, I need to pick up that technique.

I missed the inward lean of the figures…and their proportion is off…Mrs. Noah’s face is missing the expression of fear that is captured in the original and that darned hand in front of her mouth is problematic.  I looked ahead in the book and tomorrow’s image is a monochrome piece…the ark afloat in the rain on a vast sea of water.

What was Noah’s wife’s name?

“There do not seem to be any passages in the Bible referring to Noah’s wife other than the account beginning in Genesis 7:7. It does not give her name, however, according to Jewish tradition her name is Naamah – the sister of Tubal-cain, a descendant of Cain, the son of Adam and Eve (see Genesis 4:22). Why Tubal-cain’s sister (a daughter of Lamech by his wife Zillah) should be specifically mentioned is unknown. Jewish tradition made her Noah’s wife. Her name, meaning “the beautiful” or “the pleasant one,” reflects the worldly mind of the Cainites, who looked for beauty rather than for character as the chief attraction in women.”

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Sensei David Akutagawa

I am writing here to acknowledge the life of my teacher’s teacher…and mine, Sensei David Akutagawa.

My son and I began a journey in Karate in the Shotokan practice  when he was a little boy.  It was a very difficult time for us and we needed to become spiritually and physically empowered.  We found that by training three times a week with our Sensei Michael Prystupa at the time; we ended up blessed beyond our wildest imaginations. 

When I began  the practice of Karate-do, I learned of  a virtuous life…one of respect and diligence and humility.  I learned to go beyond what I believed to be my last effort.  I learned that I am important, interconnected with all else and that I am both a student and a teacher, for a lifetime.

When the dojo at the Talisman Center shut down, I went in search of another location to continue my training.  I sought out my Sensei’s teacher, Sensei Frank Prystupa.  I was captivated when Sensei Frank’s  son spoke of his upbringing in the study of karate.  It was a difficult thing to let go of our absolute loyalty to our teacher and so to lessen that difficulty, we decided it would be a good thing to be with our Sensei’s father.  And it was!

Now, these years later, it has been an absolute blessing to have taken the journey back to our Sensai’s teacher, David Akutagawa and to be learning the way of Renshikan, most specifically, Shito-Ryu. I was impacted to such a huge degree at a clinic that we hosted at the Mid-Sun Community Center.  The time spent listening to this man has made a lasting impression.  I think that it is a beautiful thing as well, that he professed his faith and spirituality throughout his lessons and that truly, I knew that I was involved with a very special experience.  I hope that you will take time to view the images from our April clinic.  They appear directly below the album Another Titch of Autumn.

Sensei Prystupa: Black Belt Presentation