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Week #47
This work was done by Lisa Devlin in New Orleans this year for the session “Variations on Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
The idea for “Hungry Caterpillar” began with an illustration I had drawn of a caterpillar in an old sketchbook. I found a playful poem online and thought this stanza would be perfect for an image of a caterpillar munching on some leaves.

The calligraphy designs of Marina Soria inspired me for this project. I particularly like the way she emphasizes abstract shapes between letters and thought it would give the impression of the caterpillar chewing on leaves, creating holes that become letters or the white spaces between them. For the lettering, I thought David Jones’s variation on Romans would give the piece a wonderfully quirky, organic feeling. To create a sense of unity and prevent needless distraction, I thought it was important to make the piece monochromatic. Various shades of green—from brightly saturated shades to duller tones —would also, I believed, give my drawing a subtle, organic quality.

I started by drawing the letters in graphite on grid paper and arranging the lines of text. I then transferred the letters to Arches text paper by creating a carbon with transfer paper. I created four shades of green with gouache and drew the letters using a Mitchell 3 nib. A different shade of green was selected randomly every few letters to enhance the organic feel.
I then penciled in an outline of the leaves and transferred the caterpillar design. As I colored in the leaves with Prismacolor pencils, I changed my mind about the color of some of the letters—deciding it would be more interesting to have those letters appear as negative shapes inside the leaves. So I painted over the green with Dr. Martin’s bleedproof white directly on top. Having pieces of letters oating down as if partially eaten by the caterpillar also was a last minute decision.

This was an important project for me because it introduced me to the calligraphy of David Jones. I’m new to calligraphy and working with nibs. His letterforms seemed more forgiving and accessible to me. Although the piece was a stretch, I approached it with a level of con dence (no doubt aided by the hours of practice on Romans). I really fell in love with the David Jones variation on Romans during this project and de nitely will use it in the future.

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