* * * * * * * * * *

This work was done by Patti Adams.

The Making of My 2024 Rex Proclamation

It began with a phone call in mid-June. Would I like to be this year’s Rex
Proclamation artist? Like many of us do when offered a great project, I
immediately said yes and then wondered what, when and how!?! I spent the next two months immersed in research.

I was thrilled when I learned what the 2024 Rex parade would be: “The Two Worlds of Lafcadio Hearn: New Orleans and Japan”. Hearn is absolutely one of my favorite writers on New Orleans. His words capture the allure, irreverence, mystery and exoticism of my city; his prose as true today as it was one hundred and fifty years ago.

As I got to work in the pages of my sketchbook, I knew that one thing I
wanted to do was feature in calligraphy “Rest with Me”, a favorite excerpt from an article he wrote about New Orleans in 1878 for one of the local daily newspapers, and I wanted to use Gothic lettering and copperplate, thinking he would have been familiar with the look of both of those hands.

As a local reporter, Lafcadio Hearn also would have attended Mardi Gras balls at the French Opera House during his time in the city (1878-1887).  There, he would have seen the members of Rex wearing their ducals (or medals). Those ten, intricate, unique ducals are fanned across the top of the design. (The one in the center is this year’s ducal, 2024).

The next challenge was choosing the appropriate style of lettering for the copy: something clean but with a distinct late 19th century vibe to it. Needless to say, I studied countless fonts, researched Victorian lettering styles in advertisements and, most especially, pored over a myriad of capital letter Rs, Es and Xs: twisted them around, enlarged, discarded, revisited and generally agonized over finding the right ones. I can’t remember how or where I finally found the ones I liked but, as I recall, they were an amalgam of several different styles with my own added twist to them!

Next was researching acanthus leaves. There are sooo many different styles (and I think I looked at them all!) but the ones that enchanted and inspired me the most were those designed by Alexis Peyrotte, a decorative artist who worked for Louis XV at Versailles and Fontainebleau in the mid 18th century.  His amazing work blows me away! The final touch was putting golden pearls as a repeated element within the acanthus leaves to balance the pearls in the border. 

With my research done and a sketchbook filled with ideas, how to begin? I started with the border of the poster. One of the prized throws from a Mardi Gras parade are large strands of white “pearls”, so there had to be white pearls, right? To set them off, I surrounded them with a deep purple ribbon of color, all painted with gouache. I then added the repeated decorative bits on the borders – flourishes and different sized jewels and stones – next, draw and paint eleven ducals and all the acanthus leaves! All in gouache. Ha! That took a while…

On to the bold colors! The colors of Mardi Gras – deep purple, green and
gold – are in the center and on the left side in the grosgrain ribbon and all the jewels represent the King of Carnival, his crown and scepter. I drew Lafcadio Hearn from a photograph (taken during his time in NOLA) and surrounded it with white pearls. The black raven represents his nom de plume and, in addition to his birth name, I also wrote his other given name (the one he used upon moving to Japan) and wrote it in Japanese characters as well.

The parade theme, “The Two Worlds of Lafcadio Hearn – New Orleans and Japan” are captured in other ways too: The iconic Japanese bonsai tree and setting sun on the bottom-left is balanced against the New Orleans skyline on the bottom-right, representing Hearn’s two worlds. Mixed flowers representing those of Japan (cherry blossoms, a mum, a pink Japanese magnolia) and New Orleans (magnolias and a day lily) are incorporated throughout, including bees, a butterfly and a lady bug!

You’ll find this quite dangerous but only now did I add the calligraphy! I covered everything up with very large, heavy sheets of watercolor paper and I worked on the lettering one line at a time. A very laborious and dangerous process but - you know the drill – careful not to drop or drip anything on the artwork or heaven forbid, no misspellings, please! :) And finally, after more than two months of research and sketching and two months of painting, done!

I was very honored to be asked to do this project and, I have to say, to be able to share my love of the work of Lafcadio Hearn with my city? Priceless!  Parades have begun rolling on the streets of New Orleans and all the festivities will culminate on the big day when Rex Proclaims Mardi Gras on February 13th, 2024! I wish you all a very Happy Mardi Gras and, as we say in my town, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Rex’s 2024 Proclamation is by Patti Adams, a painter, calligrapher, and
professional musician, who lives and works in New Orleans. She specializes in a wide array of unique commissions, including proclamations and invitations for Mardi Gras, custom lettering for books, gilding projects, paintings, calligraphy, and book illustration. Ms. Adams is on the faculty of the New Orleans Academy of Fine Arts and Loyola University and in her "spare time,” continues her 35-year career as a professional flutist with the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra. A long-time admirer of the work of Lafcadio Hearn, she was thrilled to be invited to create the 2024 Rex Proclamation. Ms. Adams has stated, “I have always loved reading Lafcadio’s wonderfully poetic and irreverent prose about our city, especially the work written during his time living here from 1878 through1887. For me, New Orleans has been the perfect city for the melding of my two artistic worlds – the visual arts and the musical arts – because the city is a daily celebration of the senses and thus, the ideal canvas for any creative artist. And, like Lafcadio Hearn, my work expresses my love of New Orleans, a place that I find enchanting, haunting, and inspiring.”

About the Rex Organization:  Since the founding of the Rex Organization in 1872, its traditions have helped define Mardi Gras. Rex’s proclamation invites his subjects to the grand celebration of Carnival. His royal colors of purple, gold, and green are to this day the colors of Mardi Gras, and the song played in the first Rex parade, "If Ever I Cease to Love," has become Carnival's anthem. Rex, the King of Carnival, and his consort, the Queen of Carnival, preside over the Rex Ball, Carnival's glittering conclusion. www.rexorganization.com

* * * * * * * * * *

The greatest work of art in western calligraphy and illumination in the last 500 years is the Saint John’s Bible.   The Saint John's Bible (saintjohnsbible.org)
It is written out in essentially four different lettering styles: incipit,
standard bible script, free form capitals, and versals. We will be analyzing, writing out, and creating finished works inspired by and based on these.


Class dates:

Feb 24, March 23, April 20, May 18,

11 am to 5 pm Central time US & Canada


More info: https://www.dropbox.com/scl/fo/6ixnslsgxxgnu5ij5opf1/h?rlkey=b9oajey32a56rwv7laa2vou98&dl=0  


All the classes will be on Zoom. They will be recorded and available to students for at least  two months after the class dates.


Cost: $250  To enroll click on my website link:  www.reggieezell.com  On my home page you will immediately find instructions for signing up.  Hope to spend time with you.  Reggie


Click to see several short (free) Calligraphy videos:


Information on courses and workshops www.reggieezell.com
You can contact me directly: contactreggie@comcast.net
or 773-202-8321

Full length calligraphy VIDEOS and PORTFOLIOS by Reggie:

If you wish to no longer receive these mailings simply unsubscribe by clicking the following link: