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Week #40
This work was done by Patti Adams in 2017 in New Orleans for the session “Carolingian and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
When I went searching through my cabinet for the right sheet of paper for my next Reggie homework assignment (incorporate gilding into a large piece), I spied a splendid but very used and abandoned sheet of Twinrocker handmade paper with a not too successful rendering of an ee cummings poem written upon it. What better than to recycle this beautiful 22"x17", light blue, deckled sheet of vintage handmade paper? I chose for my calligraphy a wonderful quotation of Franz Kafka, one of the major figures of 20th century literature. This quote is found in his notebooks of 109 aphorisms, published posthumously in 1931 as The Zurau Aphorisms; this one is number 109.

As I began work on the piece, I tried to figure out a way to cover up my old artwork. Hmmm…gesso? acrylic paint? garden hose? I finally settled on covering the entire thing with full sheets of 24 K gold leaf. After all that dried, I then brushed on acrylic molding paste around the perimeters and started laying in multiple layers of watercolor glazes in ultramarine blue, indigo, quinacridone gold, burnt sienna and finally sprayed a fine mist of acrylic flame red around the edges. To prepare for doing the calligraphy, in the center, atop the gold leaf, I applied very thin glazes of quinacridone gold watercolor.

The calligraphy was done with a Mitchell nib in indigo gouache with a spot of gold leaf applied to the center of each letter.As is usually the case with best laid plans, there was a problem. After finishing the calligraphy, I decided everything looked too dark! The quotation was simply too hard to read. Oh dear. What to do? So I brought out the Finetec Tibet Gold, pulled out my 0 brush, and yes, hand-painted liquid gold around each letter! Sigh! I then took a larger brush and pulled the liquid out onto the perimeters, finding that that immediately brought needed touches of textural drama to the piece. My final step was dabbing on small patches of instacol, random in both size and placement, to add some last bits of gold.

After all was finished, I sat back and thought about the poem that only I knew was languishing beneath the Kafka quotation; a poem now hidden beneath all the layers of shimmering gold. Could there be parallels within their blending?...

somewhere i have never travelled,gladly beyond


any experience,your eyes have their silence:


in your most frail gesture are things which enclose  me,

or which i cannot touch because they are too  near


You need not leave your room.


your slightest look easily will unclose me


though i have closed myself as fingers, 


you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens


(touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose


Remain sitting at your table and listen.


or if your wish be to close me,i and


my life will shut very beautifully,suddenly,


as when the heart of this flower imagines


the snow carefully everywhere descending; 


You need not even listen, simply wait, just learn to become quiet, and still and solitary.


nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals


the power of your intense fragility:whose texture


compels me with the color of its countries,


rendering death and forever with each breathing


The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked


(i do not know what it is about you that closes


and opens;only something in me understands 


the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses)


nobody, not even the rain, has such small hands


It has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.


Sometimes we artists can create something  beautifully, suddenly  that we never planned at all - if we will simply listen.


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