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Week #17
This work was done by Sabrina Hill in 2017 in San Diego for the session “Modernizing a Traditional Calligraphic hand: Blackletter” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
 Among the homework in Reggie’s Primitive to Modern Class, 2017, San Diego, was an assignment to write a short quote in a variation of blackletter script; then create a piece combining two styles of script in one piece. Additionally, Reggie showed us how to invert a piece (reverse it from black on white to white on black). The inversion makes for a much more dramatic effect. In this project, I combined these elements in one piece.

Inspired by the USPS rooster stamp, I had based my homework assignments for the first month on the 2017 Year of the Rooster. For this piece, I wanted to use the Chinese proverb, “If you were born lucky even your rooster will lay eggs.” It made me laugh!

A Barred Rock rooster, distinctive for it’s black and white zigzag patterned feathers, was the model for the piece. The feather pattern looks zig-zaggy. I wanted to make the body with calligraphy that mimicked the feathers. Choosing the scripts was easy. One of the hand-outs Reggie gave us had very bold variations of blackletter scripts from the 1930’s. I chose this squattier, plainer script for the main quote and a more traditional textura for the body of the rooster. Now I just needed an additional quote. I googled “quotes about roosters in Latin” and found this gem, “Post coitum omne animal triste est gallus et mulier.” (Translation: After sex, all animals are sad except the rooster and the woman.) Perfecto!
Image #1: The first step (after sketching all possibilities) was to create the piece on Strathmore Gemini Watercolor Paper, 300 lb. Cold Pressed (8” x 12”) using Sumi ink.

Image #2: Next, I inverted the image using my scanner and Photoshop. On the initial scan, I didn’t have the cockscomb colored in, so I filled in the red comb with the paint bucket function. (#2) Printed on 8.5” x 11” Arches 90 lb cold press.

Image #3: In playing around with the red, I accidentally hit the paint bucket on the background. I loved the effect of the red background and patches of black. (#3) Printed on 8.5” x 11” Arches 90 lb cold press.

Image #4: Finally, I returned to the original and using Sennelier watercolors painted the cockscomb and eye.

Overall, I like this piece, especially the red version. I use the Strathmore paper all the time, but I had never used it for calligraphy. It has a rough texture, and I was not as happy with the results of the lettering. Next time, I will use a finer surface. I love using traditional techniques and modern technology together—it makes it easy to play with color and layout.

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