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Week #52
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:
26 Seeds: A Year To Grow brought me to the gilding table with Reggie Ezell; a place of wonder, frustration and discovery. I had come into this class with a fair amount of experience with the technique but he taught me an enormous amount about experimentation with a wider variety of leaf colors and textures, more tools and mediums to use and the behaviors of all the above. Needless to say, I stepped into the homework assignment with excitement and trepidation. First, which quote to illustrate where the gilding technique could be the star?

I decided to use another favorite quote of mine from the mystic poet Rumi. For me, it speaks to the assignment of blame - something that can be so insidious in our relationships with others. My work was also inspired by the work of two artists I deeply admire: Georgia Angeloupolos and Gemma Black. I was lucky enough to have classes with each of these inspiring women, coming away from each experience with a renewed understanding for the importance of experimentation with an eye to the past. Georgia: the ancient art of gilding and using nature as your model and Gemma: looking to the ancient manuscripts to find fresh and invigorating ways to create letterforms.

In challenging us to bring in a gilded work of our own choosing, Reggie connected these dots for me. His openness to we students taking risks and bringing different perspectives to our

assignments encouraged me to illustrate these wonderful words of truth.

I began by sketching out a very simple idea of a field; trying to capture a landscape of flowers and foliage but without too much detail. I wanted an undulating flow to the floral silhouette but didn’t want to distract from the words. After many disastrous attempts, I finally arrived at what you see here. At one point, having decided to just use a circle to represent the flowers, I noticed that it had begun to look like a row of one-eyed alien beings. Yikes! Alternating the placement of the shapes and adding variety to all the sizes fixed that problem.
Next was deciding what lettering style to use. I had just returned from taking a weekend Versals workshop with Gemma through the Houston Calligraphy Guild and was so inspired by the interesting, infinite possibilities found in studying Roman Versals and the Winchester Bible. Reggie was, of course, taking us through our paces with Roman Caps at the same time and had shown and illustrated for us many examples of the creative possibilities of Versals, particularly the wonderfully quirky work of David Jones (1895-1974). Verso is a Latin word that means to turn. The word Versals may have come from the vellum being turned to view ornamental letters; in a bound book the recto was the right side of the page but when turned became the verso! The lettering you see here is from a wonderfully quirky alphabet of Gemma’s and I found that it fit my quotation perfectly.

The lettering was done in my favorite gouache, naples yellow, with a Mitchell nib, on a long rectangular piece of wine colored, vintage, thirty-year old Fabriano Roma paper. (I have hoarded a variety of colored pieces of this stunning paper for years!) In the gilded field of flowers, I used a combination of 24 K gold leaf and moon gold leaf, wanting the textures of the different leafs to aid in the effect of an undulating line of flowers.

In my Rumi field, I worked to create a place of quiet simplicity with an elegant and transformative message; for me, the very essence of the writings of this 13th century poet, so relevant and needed in our very noisy and complex world
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