Seattletters 2018 Conference by Elyse Viotto

Translation: Patricia Shallow

On July 15, I left for Bellingham to participate in Seattletters, my second International Calligraphy Conference. I was charmed by the campus with its view of the bay and magnificent sunsets. I found my “calligrafriends” from last year (Letterworks 2017) and met many new people.

Le campus de l'université de Western Washington à Bellingham
Western Washington University Campus in Bellingham

As my first choice, I had chosen the class of Master Penman Pat Blair, the White House Chief Calligrapher. I had heard a great number of positive comments from students who had taken her course last year. As Copperplate is my favorite hand, I wanted to learn her technique and better understand its subtleties.  The course lasted five days. The first two were spent reviewing the lowercase and capital letters and learning how to plan for and add flourishes to ascenders and descenders. The remaining days were dedicated to the creation of two projects: a long text and a word or simple phrase against a watercolour background.

Texte original calligraphié par Elyse Viotto
Original Copperplate text by Elyse Viotto

Pat is a meticulous and extremely kind teacher who generously provides numerous examples and technical detail. She did not hesitate to share the tricks of the trade she had acquired over the years, whether it was how to digitize a work or handle a triangular brush in order to paint the flowers characteristic of her work. I simply adored her.

Un vers d'Émile Nelligan sur fond d'aquarelle, par Elyse Viotto
Verse from Émile Nelligan on watercolour background. Calligraphy and artwork by Elyse Viotto.

Another memorable moment was the introduction of Donald Jackson, official calligrapher to the Crown Office and Artistic Director of the Saint John’s Bible whose magnificent work I was able to admire up close. The week ended with the superb exhibition of the students’ works. It was inspiring to see all these passionate people share the work they had done during the week and everyone gathered in one place for the love of calligraphy.

Donald Jackson’s conference, calligrapher et artistic director of the St-John’s Bible

The international conference Rendez-Vous 2019 will take place in our beautiful province next summer. Will you be there? I most certainly will be.

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