Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Bookplate Design

Exploring the effects of graphite with Old World Iron Gall ink on this bookplate design. It adds a bit of dimension. Finished size is 5"x 3.5" on Arches HP Paper. The Old World Iron Gall ink works well for work that will be reproduced. It is quite a bit heavier than McCaffery black and thickens up rapidly as it exposed to air. I still prefer it to any sumi inks for work that will be reproduced. It allows for the delicate hairlines and crisp shades without getting overly heavy. This design was done with an Esterbrook 357 in a straight holder.

Monday, October 8, 2012

S is for Study

I have had a love/ hate relationship with reading the treatise on designing acanthus leaves "Guide for Drawning the Acanthus and Every Description of Ornamental Foliage by James Page. Originally published in 1886, I was able to find a copy online to read but eventually purchased an excellent reproduction by Pravana Books. Unlike other print on demand books that I have purchased, this publisher has successfuly reproduced this out of print book in two beautiful volumes. There are 245 pages of analytical diagrams and endless descriptions of how to draw foliate forms. The author is very opinionated throughout the book and both insults and encourages the student in his instructions. As I continue to peruse the volumes I get more comfortable with designing foliate letters. This 1"x4" 23K flat gilded letter S is done on 140LB. Arches HP paper and painted with watercolour, gouache and then burnished with Diane Townsend Pastels. The browns of the acanthus are painted in three stages with Yellow Ochre, Brown Ochre and Burnt Sienna. The Blue acanthus leaveas are Prussian Blue and Payne's Grey. The book has made quite an impact on me as I return to its diagrams over and over again and try to really understand the acanthus form. The author keenly observes nature and I have been trying to be more aware of natural forms. "My eyes are on everthing that I pass or that passes me." James Page

Monday, October 1, 2012

A Glimpse of the Charlton Howe Collection

During the Milwaukee Iampeth convention, it was my pleasure to view Iampeth's recenlty acquired Charlton Howe collection. The collection contains many of his original specimens of Engrossers script as well as drafts and layouts of large engrossed pieces. I was amazed at the size of the Engrosser's script.
There were many examples of these calling cards. The penciled baseline and headerlines were still visible in some cases but the accuracy of the strokes at such a small size were inspiring to see.
This exemplar of Upper and Lower case was surprisingly small. The dimensions were probably 4" x 6'. Wish I had measured it.
The layouts with the pencil lines and pencil sketches were a wealth of information. I appreciated all the detail of the layout sketches and drafts. To see the use of pencil lines to give the pieces their structure and stability reminded me of the lessons I learned when viewing the Healey Collection in 2010. These masters did not have the availability of computer aided layouts for their work. They were carefully drafted in pencil and meticulously executed. I wish I knew how many hours it took them to do their designs from start to finish.
This final piece made me do a double take. Years before the invention of the hot foil pen, I would swear that Howe was using Hot Foil dots on his decorated letters. The work had the glow of foil. The dots were debossed in the paper. I am going to experiment with making a depression in hot press paper with a stylus and then seeing if gilding will get the same effect. I can certainly do this with a hot foil pen, but wondering what Howe used was intriguing. Howe did he do it???