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Week #17
This work was done by Patti Adams in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Go To The Limits of Your Longing

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German language poets. As a musician, the profound lyricism of Rilke's writing has always inspired me, particularly his Letters to a Young Poet. (ex: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…”)

The lines I chose for this calligraphy piece are from The Book of Hours which Rilke wrote between 1899-1903. It consists of three sections that focus on St. Francis and the Christian search for God. The words are taken from the first section of The Book of Hours, which is entitled The Book of Monastic Life. (The other two? The Book of Pilgrimage and The Book of Poverty and Death.) The collective title of this masterful work of Rilke’s comes from the books of hours with which all we calligraphers are familiar: the illuminated breviaries of the late Middle Ages, that combined religious edification with art containing prayers designed to structure the day through regular devotion to God. I have made many pilgrimages to The Morgan Library in NYC to study tiny, exquisite masterpieces from France and Belgium and enjoy doing my own versions of illuminated Books of Hours but New Orleans style! You can understand how I would be drawn to another type of book of hours. The study of Rilke and his works are endlessly fascinating for me and a rich resource for any calligrapher!

The piece was done on BFK Rives paper, using watercolor, acrylic and gouache. I first covered the paper with multiple glazes of transparent watercolor: burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, indigo and quinacridone gold. Then acrylic molding paste was added for dimension and texture.
 Acrylic glazes were then added atop the dried paste using the same colors, in addition to Van Dyke Brown. I also used some new spray acrylic I have in flame red. LOVE that color! It was very important though that things didn’t become too dark so the different layers of color would be able to speak.

The illumination at the top was inspired by a design of William Morris (another hero of mine!) and was done in 24K gold leaf with gouache in indigo and red ochre. I wanted the calligraphy to be loose on the page, purposely avoiding a symmetrical layout. The hand is one of Reggie’s spectacular creations and something he had us recreate in class. I love the elegance of this hand and the beauty of its variety of shapes. There was not much about this calligraphic piece that was planned out ahead of time but I did know I wanted to use this script. I wrote it in my favorite gouache, naples yellow, with a Mitchell nib.

When all was arranged, I then took out my trusty, battered old toothbrush and sprayed the piece with a fine mist of gouache for added texture and added a variety of different sized dots of 24K gold leaf. Last, but certainly not least, I picked up my stove lighter, took a deep breath and set the bottom of the piece on fire! Amazing to see my artwork burning up! I had wet rags at hand to douse the flames…!... and then finally arrived at what you see here.

Why fire you ask? I suppose my response would have to be that some drama is definitely called for when God is speaking!

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You can enjoy all the Pics of the Week from 2009 through 2018,
archived on the home page of my website www.reggieezell.com
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