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Week #41
This work was done by Maria Helena Hoksch in New Orleans this year for the session “Variations on Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:

This is my third time to take Reggie's year-long class, but my first time to submit to what has become to be known as his signature homework assignment - mono-line, somewhat rustic caps, very recognizable. Some know them as Neugebauer caps, others as a play on Tom Perkins take, either way they are just one of hundreds of variations on Roman caps. Why are they so good for beginners, I'm not sure, but everyone always loves them and tries them out. Everyone in class brings some homework! Goal achieved !!!

From the beginning of my limited time and planning on this assignment, I knew I had to make these caps my own, somehow. I used the speedball B series mono-line, clumsy, nib yes, but that was about it. I squared the ends with pointed pen. I decided to play with spacing between letters, different line heights, "weird" letter forms (literally making them almost mutilated), and adding color. After adding varying degrees of color to letters, I also added it to the background, making it all look one twisted texture, as one mess of a memory. Instead of painting the insides of seriously exaggerated round letters, I left them empty to symbolize the holes in our remembrance. Dalai Lama's quote about childhood relationships following us as inexplicable fears into adulthood made perfect sense as my text, and I used it by abandoning any word spacing into illegible whole rectangular center.
Now, I had picked a special paper for this piece. That gave a certain quality to everything I did on it. If I'm not mistaken, it is no longer made fabulous Fabriano Italia. It has heavy textured laid surface lines. It makes the letters, gilding, and even delicate brush painting look like traces left by a tractor tires in wet mud. I very much chose, enjoyed, and used that effect to add another dimension to this piece. Something my human hand could not have created on its own. The decorations amidst the letters are like little kites of hope floating around, with no care paid to their exact placement. Randomness is their message.

As I by now know about myself, I am an accidental artist, not a careful planner. Ideas, colors, and solutions come to me as I work and create. I have to decide when to stop. And I don't always know when to stop. After the gilding, I decided the piece lacked some finer, more delicate quality. To take away some of the childishness of it all. That is when I added the same quote once more in more refined and sensitive "small caps" going around the "messy center", in much

more skilled, smaller, and delicate version, this time totally legible. The uniform color of these small caps is to calm down the eye before it finally leaves the piece.

Size 18.5"x14" . Tools and materials used: speedball B nib, Mitchell nib, pointed pen, ruling pen, fine brush, various watercolors, gold leaf over Instacoll base.

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