brush lettering how-to!

We LOVE when we have the chance to do a brush lettering project at Mon Voir! It is a wonderfully creative and relaxing art form. It shares the basic strokes of dip pen calligraphy, with the more loose and free feeling of using a paintbrush. Here's a brief overview of our brush lettering style and our go-to materials for different projects! We hope that you'll enjoy it as much as we do!


It's important to choose the right size paintbrush for the piece you are working on. We recommend using #princetonbrushes round brushes size 2 or 6, for smaller, more detailed projects. For larger projects, like poster-size quotes or signs, you'll want to use a larger brush (#princetonbrushes, size 16) to create more bold and thick letters. Round brushes are ideal for getting both thick and thin lines since they're a two-in-one style brush! 

Next, to achieve the whimsical look of both opaque and transparent strokes that are unique to brush lettering, our go-to ink is #winsorandnewton water color gouache. Trust us - you will not regret investing in quality materials once you see how much better the outcome of your artwork is!


Brush Lettering - Downstrokes

DOWNSTROKES (thick lines) 

Like calligraphy, brush lettering consists of upstrokes and downstrokes, thin and thick lines. You want to make sure that the angles of your lines are consistent, as well as the amount of pressure you are applying. Your downstrokes will require more pressure to create a thicker line.

Brush Lettering - Upstrokes
Brush Lettering - Crossbar

UPSTROKES (thin lines) 

The upstrokes in your letters are your thin lines and should be applied with light pressure. It should feel like your hand is just gliding across the paper. Any crossbar strokes (like your t's, capital A's, etc.) will also be thin lines. 


Brush Lettering - ABC's
Brush Lettering - Example

Once you have your basic strokes down, you can start practicing letters! Start with lowercase, going through the entire alphabet to memorize what strokes make up each letter. Once you feel comfortable, move on to capitals!

Practice, Practice, Practice! 

Brush Lettering - Quote

Muscle memory is everything when it comes to brush lettering and calligraphy. Grab a pad of #legionpaper, turn on some relaxing music (or netflix ;)) and keep at it!! 

What (paper) dreams are made of

When it comes to art - it is SO important to invest in your practice and in your supplies! As many of you know, my love for @legionpaper runs deep. Their Stonehenge Aqua cold-pressed paper is my go to now for watercolor paper! It absorbs the pigment beautifully and you're still able to lift color...even the tricky ones without too much trouble. I seriously love it! You've got to get your hands on some - go to their SITE to see where they're sold online! We also have this paper in our new WATERCOLOR KITS with allllll of Jenna's favorite supplies. Make sure to sign up for our mailing list (on our homepage) in order to not miss when these are back in stock!! (VERY SOON!!!)

How-to: Mixing custom ink!

Ever wonder how to mix your own custom ink colors?! Maybe you were commissioned for an envelope addressing job for a bride, a custom calligraphy quote, or just curious about color matching for your own enjoyment...Well, we go your back! Read through the steps to see our entire process and you'll be mixing up custom colors in no time!

When creating a custom colored ink, our go-to is Winsor & Newton gouache mixed with water to create any color imaginable!  Some calligraphers also use Gum Arabic, which is a binding agent, to prevent the pigment and water from separating, but we keep it simple over here. Just a couple shakes here and there and the color is mixed! When you mix your first couple inks, it may be a little trickier to get the right consistency at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's definitely worth it to achieve a beautiful pigment that you and your potential clients will LOVE! 

First things first: supplies!

Winsor & Newton Gouache - Nothing compares to quality materials! Everything we do over here at Mon Voir is done with the highest quality supplies. Jenna has been using this brand for years and whether it's for watercolor or calligraphy ink, we use Designer/Proffessional level only! It may cost a little more up front, but TRUST US, you will be much more pleased with the results. You can find Winsor & Newton at your local art supply store, Amazon, or Blick!

Small Container/Jar - We recommend a 1.5 oz jar to allow for a good amount of ink that will last you a while. You can find sets of jars for a reasonable price on Amazon

Calligraphy Pen - We'll typically use the end of a calligraphy pen (NOT the nib) to stir the mixture. Then flip it around to test out the ink with a few basic strokes. If you're curious about allllll our preferred materials when it comes to calligraphy, check out this blog post!

Eye Dropper - This allows you to add a few drops at a time until you get the correct ratio of water to gouache! Again, you can find one of these on the always trusty Amazon.

Distilled water - Helps prevent the possibility of mold growth if you will be storing the ink.


STEP 1: You’ll squeeze out an amount of gouache that’s appropriate for your project. For a big project, like calligraphing envelopes, you should mix up a lot of gouache (we typically use about 1/2 of a 14 ml tube). 

STEP 2: Using your eye dropper, add about 3/4 distilled water to 1/4 gouache. 

STEP 3: Mix the water and gouache together with the end of your pen or paint brush. Continue to add water and/or gouache as needed until you get a mixture that is similar to the consistency of heavy cream.

STEP 4: Test out your mixture by dipping your calligraphy pen and practicing 3-4 basic strokes. If you notice your strokes seem a little thick or your nib is not releasing enough ink, try adding a few more drops of water. If your strokes are bubbly and translucent, try adding a bit more gouache!

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And that's it!! You can use this method to match a specific ink color to printed material, envelope colors, and MORE with a Pantone Matching System (pictured in the photo above on the right). It's a designer's dream being as customizable as possible with colors, so get on it!!

MCS 2.0 Recap!

The Modern Calligraphy Summit 2.0 was a huge success!! With over 9 hours of video lessons from a group of incredibly talented instructors, the MCS courses included watercolor illustration and digitizing (from us at Mon Voir Co!), invitation design + assembly, brush lettering, copperplate calligraphy and much more! Not to mention live Q&As with the instructors, a private Facebook page to share and ask questions along the way, AND if that wasn't enough - you have lifetime access to ALL of the content! Be the first to hear when registration opens up again in May - sign up for the waiting list HERE! Trust me, you don't want to miss out on this!

Shop Pigment Workshops January 2017

Shop Pigment is one of my favorite places to teach for SO many reasons; incredible natural lighting, decor to die for, they continuously outdo themselves with the refreshments spread and there is always positive, happy energy for everyone that walks through their doors!  Teaching there is so much fun for me.  This last weekend I taught my signature Intro to Floral Watercolor and Intro to Modern Calligraphy workshops (#monvoirworkshops on Instagram if you wanna check it out!).  Whether you are a first timer or seasoned in your craft, getting back to the basics and focusing on color theory and technique do worldssssss for honing in your craft!

With that said, we love working together so much that we decided to book more workshops together!  On Saturday, February 18th. I will be teaching Intro to Floral Watercolor from 10am-1pm and from 2pm-5pm I will be teaching Modern Calligraphy.  If you are interested in learning more about the classes or where to sign up, click HERE!

I hope to see you all there!  

Join Me In Paris June 18-24, 2017!

I am so incredibly excited for the Fat Tire Rendezvous in June, I can hardly stand it!  I mean a full week of creative workshops, coffee, wine, cheese, gardens, bike tours, the Eiffel Tower, Versaille....I could go on.  I will be teaching a Floral Watercolor lesson in the garden of Giverny. IS THIS REAL LIFE?  STEP ASIDE MONET!...jk, Monet. But, what?! 

Aside from myself, there will be other amazing artists teaching as well! Among those, Lauren Essl will be teaching us the basics of her stunning calligraphy and Estelle Preston will be guiding us on how to make the most beautiful floral arrangement.  This will be hands down the most inspiring week of your life with Anna Routh there to document the whole trip with her stunning photography!

To register and learn more about this once in a lifetime opportunity, click HERE!  I hope to see you there!


We are absolutely in love with Cristina & Hanley's colorful Mexico wedding!  Here are some of our favorite photos from the wedding; including the place cards, invites, table numbers, custom signage and other pretty things Mon Voir created for this incredible destination wedding!

From Bash Please… "Cristina and Hanley came to us thinking that they were going to get married in Ojai, but after chatting with them about what they pictured for their wedding weekend, we knew that Mexico was a better fit. They are both so lively and full of energy, and they wanted to create a full weekend of celebration with their closest friends and family. We guided them towards the Riviera Maya in Mexico. With its incomparable beaches, incredible local flavor, and unparalleled customer service, we knew it was the spot for them. The Rosewood Mayakoba is one of the most beautiful resorts in the world, and its attention to detail of design and service is impeccable. We wanted to have the design of the wedding capture the local beauty and flavor of Mexico and keep it cohesive with the thoughtful simplistic design of the Rosewood Mayakoba. We sourced local goods and textiles, worked with an amazing florist based out of Mexico City (Gabriela of La Muses de las Floras) who foraged for all local plants and florals to create wild yet composed native arrangements and installations, and let the Palapa at the Rosewood be the backdrop for an unforgettable night. We kept the palate for the wedding fairly neutral to keep in line with the existing design and natural materials of the property with pops of Papaya, and Anthurium. We tried to create a balance with the contrasting natural materials local to the area and simple, modern designed papergoods and signage, in the hand of Mon Voir, that lend themselves to the clean design of the hotel. There were churros, fireworks, a surprise guitar performance by Cristina’s dad, and dancing into the wee hours of the night."



Photography: Our Labor of Love | Videography: The Wedding Artists Collective | Event Planning: Bash Please | Floral Design: Gabriela Salazar | Wedding Dress: Rue De Seine | Cake: Rosewood Mayakoba | Invitations: Mon Voir | Shoes: Gianvito Rossi | Catering: Rosewood Mayakoba | Hair + Makeup: Styling Trio | Lighting: Encore Productions | Fireworks: Special Events Mexico | Linens: La Tavola Fine Linen Rental | Music: Elan Artists | Rehearsal Dinner Venue: La Ceiba at Rosewood Mayakoba | Rentals:Canteiro | Wedding: Rosewood Mayakoba Beach

Custom Wedding Stationery Timeline!

There are SO many deadlines to remember for your big day, so we want to help take the questioning out of stationery deadlines for you!  Please remember to reach out to your desired designer ASAP once you have a locked in date and venue.   Many stationers book months and months in advance, so we want to make sure that there is enough time to create your dream invitation suite! Below is a timeline to live by when it comes to custom stationery. These are the timelines we go by here at Mon Voir and others may do it differently, so make sure to always reach out in advance and provide your timeline and wedding date in your inquiry!

Save The Dates.  The typical custom design and printing process for save the dates is 6-8 weeks.  You will want to reach out to your stationer about 10-11 months in advance to begin coordinating dates to get started.  If you want your save the dates in hand by July 1st, you will need to begin the design process around May 1st.  Make sense?  If you are having a destination wedding, you will want to mail out your save the dates approximately 8 months in advance, and 6 months in advance for non-destination weddings.  So, if you are having a destination wedding on November 1st , you will want to mail out your save the dates early March.  And for non-destination weddings, early May.  

2 Piece Suite:  A custom main invitation design, reply card design, inner and outer envelope design + printing takes 8-10 weeks.  You want to give yourself, and your designer, enough time needed!  So, if you need your invitations in hand by July 1st, you will need to begin the design process around April 15th.  

3 Piece Suite: A custom main invitation design, reply card design, inner and outer envelope design, information card design + printing takes 10-12 weeks.  If you want to give yourself enough time and you need your invitations in hand by July 1st, you will need to begin the design process around April 1st.

4 Piece Suite: A custom main invitation design, reply card design, map design, information card design, return addressing design for inner and outer envelopes and printing takes 12-14 weeks.  If you want to give yourself enough time and you need your invitations in hand by July 1st, you will need to being the design process around March 15th.

Additional Custom Designs:  A day of item such as a Menu, an Itinerary or Program takes approximately 4-6 weeks to design and print (unless you want all three items! In which case, you will want to begin the design process 4 weeks earlier).  If you need your day of item in hand on July 1st, you will need to begin the designing process around May 15th.  If you are doing all three day of items and you need them in hand by July 1st, you will want to begin the design process around April 15th.

Calligraphy Addressing:  A minimum of 2 weeks is needed to complete calligraphy addressing, however 3 weeks is recommended.  If you need your addressed envelopes in hand by July 1st, you will need to make sure your calligrapher has the final address list around June 7th.

Escort Cards/Place Cards: A minimum of 2 weeks is needed to complete day of escort or place cards, however 3 weeks is recommended.  If you need them in hand by July 1st, you will need to make sure your calligrapher has the final guest list around June 7th.

We hope that this helps to give you a better idea as to when to reach out to your stationer and how long the process takes!  Please also keep in mind that your stationer may be booked farther in advance than you think, so reaching out ASAP will give you a better chance at being able to work with the designer of your choice! It is such an enjoyable process when working with the perfect designer for your style and event and making sure you have plenty of time to sit back and enjoy watching your stationer transform your ideas and vision into beautiful paper!

Calligraphy Supplies!

I LOVE calligraphy!  Can't you tell? ;)  I get quite a few questions about what I use for my supplies.  I figured I would write a blog about what I like to use and why, so here we go! 

First thing's first, the holder!  I prefer to use straight pen holders for myself as well as for my workshops.  I choose this because it is easy to use for both left and right handed calligraphers, and I have more control over the style I wish to create with it.  An oblique pen holder is great for if you want to create an italicized style lettering, but it is really difficult to use for a lefty (I am not a lefty, but that's another reason why I choose straight pen holders for my workshops). 

Next up, nibs!  The brause steno nib (also known as the blue pumpkin nib) is perfect for beginners because it is stiffer, which means you can put more pressure on the nib without breaking it.  The Hiro 41 nib is slightly more flexible, which is great for intermediate calligraphers! Once you have a grip on the amount of pressure to use when writing, you'll find this nib to be easier to use in the long run.  The Brause Rose nib is my FAVORITE nib to use because it is very flexible, I can write with it on soft and textured papers such as handmade paper or watercolor paper. 

Ink!  I use a Sumi ink, it is a thick black ink. Very opaque and easy to use. It's just the best! That is all :) 

If I wanted to create a custom colored ink, I like to mix Winsor & Newton Gouache and water together to create any color imaginable!  It is a little trickier to get the right consistency at first, but once you get the hang of it, it's definitely worth it instead of buying pre-made bottles of ink as these are usually too thin or not the right color. 

For paper, I prefer Borden & Riley #37 layout bond paper.  It is a blue and white cover, easy to spot.  It is great paper to practice on for designing as it is transparent and super easy to see through for tracing.  It is really thin paper though, so I only use it for practicing and spot calligraphy for designs.

There ya have it kids!  A list of all my favorite calligraphy things to hopefully help you along your calligraphy journey!  All supplies can be found through Art Supply Warehouse or Blick.   If you can't make it to one of our in person classes, I highly recommend taking an online calligraphy class with Lauren Essl's through Brit+Co, click HERE to take a a look!  Be sure to sign up for my newsletter and follow me on social media to learn more tips and tricks about calligraphy and when I will be hosting workshops!



The Best Mother's Day Gift!

Looking for the perfect Mother's Day gift?  If you live in the OC/LA/SD area, give your Mother the gift of a workshop!  My workshops are such a fun and unique way to experience some fun with your mama!  There are three classes happening in May; Floral Watercolor, Modern Calligraphy and Botanical Illustration. Each one of these classes is specifically made for beginners, so everyone is welcome to come. I promise you'll be surprised by what you can create in just a few hours. Click HERE to register!  I look forward to seeing you all next month!





Seldom do we see a wedding execute a cohesive color palette and aesthetic as thorough as this one did. So much thought and attention to detail went into Maria and Chris's wedding day. The texture of the paper matched the raw texture of the linen cake backdrop. The elegant and soft bridesmaids dresses and the organic shapes of the bouquets and centerpieces...It was all done with such care. To give you an idea of how much planning and detail goes into custom invitations, let's take you back to the beginning of each job: we always start with the color palette. Asking the couple which shades they're using in their florals, the tones of woods and metals...we ask them to paint a scene for us so we can capture that in all of their stationery. With this romantic affair, we worked with the subtlest blush color for the envelopes, silk ribbon and pressed type to add a softer contrast against the matte gold foil for an impactful finish. And it's so amazing to see how this color palette unfolded throughout their wedding day - with bold pinks and greens in their flowers and table displays to bring in the celebratory feel of a wedding. Scroll through and you'll see what I'm talking about and the amazing team that helped it all come together!

photography: Ashley Kelemen // venue + catering: Rancho Valencia Rancho Santa Fe, California // event design: A Vintage Affair Events // event planning: Couture Events // florals: Plenty of Petals // wedding dress: Allure Bridals // shoes: Jimmy Choo // bridesmaid dresses: Adrianna Papell & Amsale purchased at Bella Bridesmaids // hair + makeup: Blush & Adore // groom’s suit: Michael Kors // videography:Luke Lindgren // wedding invitation suites + calligraphy: Mon Voir // save the dates: Bethany Siekmeier // cake: Hey There, Cupcake! // rentals: Classic Party RentalsArchive Vintage Rentals // officiant + music: Thomas Giglio //  photo booth: Mobile Photo Booth // linens: La Tavola Fine Linen // film lab:Richard Photo Lab