Reggie’s homework included a “make it your own” assignment using
the techniques of the Codex Aureus with a short quote for our
third class in Primitive to Modern. With these guidelines, I was
inspired to create the following piece.
The sentiment is one that is common among creative circles. That
a subject (art, science, philosophy, literature, etc.) seems
pretty straightforward at first glance, but you soon learn that
a lifetime can be spent on discoveries within that narrow field.
For me, calligraphy has that depth and breadth. I could find no
“official” credit for the thought and, with the help of my
daughter, we retooled it to suit our tastes.
It was roughly sketched out, then tightly refined. I wanted to
take the idea and letterforms of the Codex Aureus, but update
the style to a more modern feel. So I limited the color palette
and simplified the patterns within and around the letterforms.
With a nod to tradition, the colors are made from the powdered
pigments lapis lazuli and malachite. The only other colors used
were titanium white and vine black to create the tones. These
colors were quite heavy and gritty.
They separated so quickly in the pan that the paint had to be
vigorously stirred every time the brush/pen needed to be loaded.
But they are beautiful and lasting. The other traditional motif
was the patterns used in the green backgrounds. The patterns are
all based on Trinity symbols.
I modernized the piece by using a lighter color palette with
limited colors. The patterns were kept simple, open and
repeating. Gilding on it is a modern technique and not
traditional gesso gilding. The first line of the text was gilded
in high-relief. This was created with several layers of the
tinted gesso/acrylic molding paste, then the instacoll, as
taught in class. Then, the lower lines were done in a flat
technique – a style I needed to work on. To keep it flat, the
layering of gesso mix and instacoll was the same, but fewer and
thinner layers were applied in order to keep it as smooth as
possible. A real challenge for me.
I really enjoyed working on this piece - it was challenging and
rewarding, and took MUCH longer than I thought it would to
complete. But I think it was worth it!
Image Area: 9.5” x 7.5”
Powdered Pigments, W&B Pale Gold on Arches 300# HP Watercolor