David McGrail

C509 ‘I Flamed Amazement…’

Five Day Class
Painting & Drawing, Abstract

With impish fervour, we will “flame amazement” with the passion of Ariel creating the lightening storm in William Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

The pen grazes the paper and the ink flows…

A journey begins that follows a straight line—the practice and skill of perfecting letterforms.

And the ink spreads…

Perhaps there’s another journey we can take. One where the emphasis is on the creative process and where individual skill or even lack of it, is valued as a part of this process. This is a workshop that zigzags—a wayward one, where we meander and deviate, linger and occasionally get lost. Gathering up anything we find useful and interesting; techniques, thoughts and ideas that may influence or play a role in our artistic development. This workshop will encourage us to explore ways of making our work more personal. We ourselves, our thoughts and experiences, are the essential source for creating work with real depth and meaning. In our wanderings, we will cover many areas.

With expressive, gestural arabesques, we will capture the vitality and exuberance of the cursive stroke. We will develop those marks to achieve atmosphere, subtlety and nuance, using incised strokes in harmonious compositions.

The beauty of a simple, unadorned piece of calligraphy is evident, but it is in the juxtaposition of elements where a work becomes truly interesting. We will use subtle masking techniques and graphic details to enrich both your work and the pleasure you get from doing it.

We will explore different kinds of power that can intensify your work: the overt power of the energetic, the latent drama of tension, the potency of the personal element.

Supply List
  • All your usual standard calligraphic supplies: broad-edged and pointed pens, a range of nibs, ruling pen, ruler etc.
  • 2 or 3 large Automatic pens

  • For pen work, a plain, smooth drawing paper about 80 lb x 25 sheets, approximate size 11" x 17"
  • For acrylic and painterly work, similar smooth plain paper but about 135 lb x 25 sheets, approximate size 11" x 17"
  • One A4/8.5" x 11" pad of matte black paper for pen work, about 160/180 gsm
  • Two sheets of hot press (smooth) watercolor paper (i.e. Saunders or Fabriano), cut to approximate size 11" x 17"

Watercolor Paints
  • 1 Schmincke Horadam (or similar) watercolor half pan of gold
  • 1 Schmincke Horadam (or similar) watercolor half pan of silver (or they can be purchased in tube format: 5 ml)
  • Small selection of watercolors in tubes or pans about 6 colors

Acrylic Paints
  • Small selection of colors, including a metallic gold or silver
  • Small jar of fine imitation gold powder
  • Gesso (These can be shared as we will only need a little): one small jar (about 8 fl oz) each of white and black

Brushes (something near these sizes will be fine)
  • ½" flat brush
  • 1" flat brush
  • 2" fine synthetic flat brush (not expensive)
  • A couple of small watercolor brushes (synthetic is fine.)

  • Small bottle of black ink, preferably sumi

  • Metal scalpel (like Swann Morton) and a packet of five 10A scalpel blades
  • A4/US 8.5" x 11" cutting mat
  • White ceramic dish or similar for mixing watercolor paints
  • Small metal palette knife
  • Two glossy, quality color magazines with plenty of large photographs of house interiors, fabrics, architecture etc.
  • Essential Item: 1 roll of Scotch 3M removable transparent tape (This is a clear tape that can be easily removed. It comes in a blue packet; small size is fine)

David is a designer with a passion for calligraphy. He has taught workshops in Europe, the U.S., and Canada. He encourages students to develop an individual approach and to explore calligraphy in the wider context of art and design. He has a particular interest in Japanese aesthetic traditions, which have influenced and informed his work.