Saturday, 27 October 2012


 I have been teaching italic to both my classes this term and practising my own italic. I was given the most beautiful book recently 'Masters of the Italic Letter' by Kathryn A Atkins which contains this beautiful example of writing by Tagliente from 1491 complete with ink blot! This is the hand that I was referring to when trying to refine my italic for my Oxford coat of arms (still not finished!)

and this example from a writing book from Siena in 1545 by Bennardino Cataneo.

I had just downloaded the font Cataneo Lt BT to use instead of Monotype Corsiva when planning layout for commissions to be done in formal italic - to shorten the time taken by using a point size and expanding the font to match my own writing with various pens, particularly useful when writing long lists of names on invitations or place cards.

This lovely book shows examples of the same letter written by 22 different writing masters from the Sixteenth Century.

Ampersands ...

and more ...ampersands...

Thursday, 25 October 2012

Mick Paine Workshop

I was lucky to only be teaching for the first half of the Festival at Malvern, so I was free to attend Mick Paine's workshop in the second half. I have admired Mick's work since sitting behind him at the Sunderland Symposium - can it really be as long ago as 2003! It was the year the classes stayed put and the tutors moved round and Brody Neuenschwander was one of the tutors who demonstrated his collage method one day which he has used in this piece from the period that I like best of his work. See more here -

Mick picked this up and ran with it. He gave a wonderful talk on his work last year at Letter Exchange too, so I was really looking forward to his workshop at last and really seeing how he worked. Mick used to have a very informative website but it doesn't seem to be up at the moment so here is just one example of his work.

 Mick's workshop was entitled 'Rules and Randomness' and started us off on a different way of approaching a new piece of work. It worked for me this time and got me off to a quick start. We began by writing down things that were important to us as individuals. Mine were - family; landscape; holidays we've had and two special books that I use frequently.

Procrastination averted, I started a mindmap with a family name of Field linking to the landscape idea and plans for a family tree which had been on hold for some time.

then using a dice and random number generator on my phone I selected from various lists and pages from the two books ...

p78 from Calligraphy A Book of Contemporary Inspiration by Denise Lach - the most inspiring book I have bought in recent years...

and page 186 from Alphabets Old and New (see previous post) - perhaps one of the least interesting pages in this book - but titled 'Cursive writing'

The country I had visited came out as Spain and as I was planning a visit to Barcelona at the time I took Antoni Gaudi as inspiration and used this photo of the walls at Parc Guell (I now know must have been taken when no-one was there) found online

I spent a lot of time colouring the middle section with pencil around the word family - I got pretty attached to it trying to link it to the crazy paving of the Gaudi wall - but it was not working and had to go! 

Things started to come together once that had been covered up with some paper I had coloured for my Salisbury Hospital commission last year (see piece below) when I first started to experiment with collage. 

I hope you can see the Denise Lach influence with the linked squares now covered with tissue with square holes cut in it and the reddish brown squares cut from one of my trials for my Kings and Queens piece (shown in the All That Glisters Exhibition and in an earlier post). 

Names from different generations filled the levels of the wall with grandparents at the top and children at the bottom.

Now some copper leaf added - but not happy with the word Genealogy...

so that got covered up with gesso and stencilled squares and lastly more significant names running vertically. 

I really enjoyed working on this piece and finished it back home over several days to allow for drying between stages. I like being able to cover mistakes and change the design as I go but I ditched the randomness once I got started because personally I think there comes a time when real decisions have to be made on aesthetic qualities and not just chance.

Here is my earlier collage of hand coloured papers with pointed brush lettering, gold leaf and coloured pencil, on one of three pieces completed for Salisbury Hospital. The words used were written by poet in residence Rose Flint.