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Week #47
This work was done by Patti Adams in 2017 in New Orleans for the session “Roman Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
This was inspired by two quite disparate things: the design genius of William Morris and George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones books.

I have long been an uber fan of Mr. Morris (1834-1896). This artistic polyglot mastered an astonishing array of disciplines during his lifetime including architecture, calligraphy, typography, book design and publishing, illumination, painting, drawing, textile design, ceramics, embroidery, furniture and horticultural design and wrote numerous essays, novels and poetry. In addition, he found the time to run a very successful decorative arts firm, publishing house and was a committed revolutionary social activist! When his doctor was asked upon his passing at age 62, “From what did he die?” His response: “He died of being William Morris." His influence was felt by generations of artists and designers and many of his designs are still in production today.

This piece of mine is a humble homage to one of his favorite and most iconic designs: Peacock and Dragon,1878. Morris thought all designers should take inspiration from the past but always encouraged them to put their own spin on things. So, enter Game of Thrones. I have never been a science fiction fan until the idea of owning not one but three dragons was introduced to me by Mr. Martin. Finally, in this crazy world, the right tool for the job! How often have we wanted to shout: “Bring me my dragons!”, stuck in rush hour traffic, enduring long delays at the airport, a frustrating day in a rehearsal or at the drafting table with misbehaving calligraphy nibs lying about…the scenarios are endless!
I started this piece in the summer of 2016 when I was attending the calligraphy conference in Asheville. The class I chose was, naturally, The Design Process of William Morris, taught by Georgia Angelopoulos. She lead a fantastic class and encouraged me to forge ahead with this impossibly frustrating project I’d begun. Enter Reggie in 2017! His fearless, go-for-it attitude helped me pull this very unfinished and abandoned piece from the cabinet and start anew. I’ve included a few pics of the process for you to see...

The entire piece is painted in gouache on a white rectangular piece of deckled handmade Twinrocker watercolor paper. The limited palette colors are indigo, white, mayan blue and flame red. (The lighter shade of red is flame red mixed with white and the deeper shade of red is a mixture of flame red and indigo.) Everything was drawn very carefully in pencil, while taking wild liberties with the Morris design, and adding a mass of vines and leaves to draw attention to the “flames and dragons”. The leaf motif continues as a frame for the hand lettering: a kind of Morris-ing of the Roman caps we were studying in class. The ultimate test for my patience came with the tiny flourishes of leaves that are found inside the larger vines. This technique was again inspired by Morris - a wallpaper design of his I copied into one of my sketchbooks. I marveled at the effort involved and wondered if I had the stamina to emulate the technique! They were painted painstakingly atop the dark indigo blue with a lighter mixture of indigo & white, ruining several 000
brushes in the process! Aaaargh!

The untold number of hours I spent on this piece defy the imagination but it holds a special spot on my wall in my studio today. It is a comfort and a balm on those days when I could use some dragons.
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