PICK OF THE WEEKS - 2018
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Week #1
This work was done by Susan Gale Welch in 2016 in Seattle for the session “ DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid” in
PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
Tudor England has fascinated me since I was 10 years old. I’ve read so many books and seen just about every movie and TV series ever made about this world. I love the period fashion, the architecture, the music, dancing, portraiture and court life. It’s been part of my life for so long that I just had to make it the subject for a calligraphy project on Carolingian lettering.

For people unfamiliar with Henry VIII, he ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He was a monarch of many talents who also had a way with words, expressed through song lyrics and poetry. You might say he seemed more in love with the idea of love rather than the reality of marriage. The man had six wives, beheading numbers two and five. Wife number two, Anne Boleyn, was a highly intelligent and cultured woman. And although many believe she was extremely ambitious and hot-tempered, Anne hardly deserved the fate she suffered. Most historians feel she was not guilty of adultery (as opposed to wife #5 who was). So in this drawing, Anne Boleyn’s severed head is understandably scornful of her husband’s love making.

At first, I thought I might simply letter one of Henry VIII’s songs called “Green Groweth the Holly.” But this idea gradually evolved into one I thought might be more interesting: a 16th-century record album cover with titles of contemporary pop songs about broken hearts written in old English. Channeling the 1980s Greenwich Village art scene, this would be a kind of surreal commentary comparing a world of courtly love and troubadours with more modern expressions heard on the radio and via other forms of pop culture. I decided to mix up Renaissance tapestry motifs with other ingredients taken from consumerism, cartoons and tattoos.
Multiple references to love were made with the King and Queen of hearts from playing cards, pierced hearts which are popular tattoo motifs (although these are pierced by calligraphy pens) and homicidal cupids. Love-struck Tex Avery cartoon characters appear in place of the small birds and mammals you’ll find in tapestries of this period. Because this is a consumer product, I included a logo (K-tel was a popular brand in the ‘70s, offering lots of songs for a low low price). The price label for Tower Records (a 20th century retail chain store) also refers to the Tower of London.

I created this piece using Prismacolor pencils on 130# Canson paper. References for the drawing were found online such as the famous Hans Holbein portrait of Henry and foliage from Renaissance tapestries. Some of the lettering was hand drawn with a pencil in Carolingian style and some was drawn in various monoline styles learned earlier in Reggie’s 26 Seeds course. The song titles at the bottom were written with a #2 Mitchell nib in Winsor & Newton gouache.

This project turned out to be a mixed-media endeavor. I discovered that you really can find just about anything on the internet - including a photo of an old Tower Records price label which I printed on acid-free paper, touched up with color pencils and glued with rubber cement to the drawing. It seemed appropriate to add some gilding which I did for the very first time by myself (consulting class notes and hand outs). These gold touches are the diamond-shaped ornaments by the song titles at the bottom.

In sum, I’ve never created a drawing like this before and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. There was something very liberating about irreverently throwing history and pop culture in a blender together and whipping up an extra-chunky concoction of something entertaining and strange.
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Week #2
This work was done by Roann Mathias in Memphis in 1998 for the session “Variations on Romans”, in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
This piece was done in the “26 Seeds” class in Memphis, TN in 1998. It was my second time to go through Reggie’s yearlong class. This was the assignment from the first month, using 12 shades of gray and the speedball b nib. The first time I took the class, I did the Sandburg poem, The People Yes, in the assigned earth tone colors. I really loved the challenge of working with the grays on black. I saw each assignment as a challenge to my skills, inventiveness and creativity. First there was choosing the text. At that time, I had three young children and making time to do the homework was extremely challenging. I found great comfort in the words of this poem, Quiltmaker, by Luci Shaw.

"I make them warm to keep my family from freezing; I make them beautiful to keep my heart from breaking.” --From the journal of a prairie woman, 1870

"To keep a husband and five children warm,
she quilts them covers thick as drifts against
the door. Through every fleshy square white threads needle their almost invisible tracks; her hours
count each small suture that holds together
the raw-cut, uncolored edges of her life.

She pieces each one beautiful, and summer bright
to thaw her frozen soul. Under her fingers
the scraps grow to green birds and purple
improbable leaves; deeper than calico, her mid-winter mind bursts into flowers. She watches them unfold between the double stars, the wedding rings.”
Once I the text and an idea for a piece, which was always complex, I went into problem-solving mode. How would all the words fit? What quilt design should I use and how should I lay it out? My working process involved a lot of research, and by that I mean, I bought a lot of quilting magazines! It took me a while to choose a pattern, being the perfectionist that I am. In the end, I felt really happy with the colors, the designs and even the lettering. I am sure that I worked on this piece more than once at 4 am, after being woken up by one of my kids.

I really did see the exercise as a problem to solve. Figuring out the layout alone was a huge part of that. I incorporated 3 different styles of capitals, at 3 different sizes. The words all had to fit into a rectangle on a certain size of paper (Arches cover black). The quilt pattern for the border also had to fit that size. THEN, I still had to mix all the colors and do the lettering. I am not sure that I would have the patience or determination to complete this kind of piece now, but I am so glad that I did it. It is one of my favorite pieces that I did for homework over the years.
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Week #3
This work was done by Rose Smutko in San Diego in 2017 for the session “DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
I love quotations as so many calligraphers do. But recently, I also have begun to notice how these quotations come into my life. The quotation "Every leaf speaks bliss to me..." arrived in my mail on the front cover of an Autumn book catalogue. This quotation inspired me to use the stained glass printouts from Reggie for an Autumn scene. I used the typical blue for the sky; green for the grass. I loved mixing it up by incorporating a blue sky with clouds, with a darkish greenish moon in the middle -- a kind of fantasy landscape.  I also used a hot foil pen. I had never noticed that there were some stencils included in the packaging - of the hot foil pen. It is the kind of stencil that you see when you're a kid - a crescent moon, a star, a goose, a LEAF. So, I used this simple stencil to add golden leaves to the artwork. The calligraphy was done initially with a Speedball B-1, squaring off each round edge with a ball pointed 513 EF pen nib.
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