PICK OF THE WEEKS - 2018
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Week #1
This work was done by Lisa Devlin in New Orleans in 2018 for the session “ Carolingian and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. 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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Week #4
This work was done by Peggy Kunkel in Memphis in 2017 for the session “Variations on Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
One of Reggie’s assignments on Roman Variations was to pick a short quote and do it 3 different ways. I struggled with the first two layouts and then exploded with ideas. I finally quit after doing 7.

To inspire me, I went through my collection of books looking for different lettering variations. Then I spent a day or so practicing each particular hand. Some ended up being used and some I just filed for future reference.

The first piece that is shown was done with Zig Metallic Markers (the only ones I had in my studio) on a piece of Ingres. The letterform was done originally by Colleen and she did hers in black.
 The second layout (a gorgeous piece by Ismar David) comes from Artists & Alphabets. I stole the lettering and layout. It is a piece I have long admired and really wanted to try it. The quote was repeated 3 times to create the rectangle. I used a Mitchell 4 and an EF66 with walnut ink on Arches HP. This hand required manipulation and was difficult. Whereas Mr. David colored in between the words, I chose to fill in the “O’s”.

The third piece was also done on Ingres. The red is watered down Cad Red Deep. The other is Oxide of Chromium and Black. I added just a little black and it overwhelmed the Oxide, but it still reads as a dark green. Two nibs were used – a Brause 2 and Brause 1.


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Week #5
This work was done by Sabrina Hill in San Diego in 2017 for the session “DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid ” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
My Mother’s Back.

One of the final projects for Reggie Ezell’s Primitive to Modern 2017 San Diego class was to use digital and hand tools to create a piece that would become a postcard.

Being the pain in the neck that I am, I ditched the gorgeous space photos and decided to start from scratch. My mother has been heavy on my mind and heart this year. She’s in the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease. She doesn’t know who I am, can’t speak in sentences, has to be spoon fed, has moved to a wheel chair…all the things that make us adults have been taken from her. Over the past year I have done several pieces that were inspired by her, my first art teacher.
My mother had five children; I was the oldest. In my early childhood, I imagine a very pregnant mom trying to carve out some time to just rest. And it is here that a memory surfaces. I can remember vividly laying on the big bed with my mother to play a game we’ll call Make Some Letters. She would expose her bare back, I would draw letters on her back, and she would guess them.  She was terrible at this game.

She could NEVER guess. So, I would erase them and with my little four-year-old finger draw a new set of letters. Once in a great while she would get one or two letters. Mostly, she failed. I wrote a lot of words in those sessions. Sometimes her entire soap opera, Days of Our Lives, would run whilst she tried to guess even one letter correctly.

For this piece, I wanted to capture the simple beauty of a quiet moment with my mother. I began with Aquarelle watercolor paper. I covered it in Ziller’s Wild Plum ink and sprayed it with water and alcohol to get some interesting effects. Using my 57-year-old finger, I drew the letters on by dipping my finger in the Wild Plum ink and drawing them on.
This gesture was so familiar to me that it evoked a very emotional response to the process. Once everything was dry, I went over the hand-drawn letters with Copperplate Capitals done with a Nikko G pointed pen in Sumi ink. This represented the space I had travelled calligraphically.

Now for the figure.

 I had drawn a reclining woman, but I didn’t like how it looked against the purple. Using Reggie’s suggestion of printing out a background, I found an old French manuscript on Etsy, which I purchase (as a pdf download) and used to print my reclining woman on. I then cut this out and pasted it to the composition. It was HORRIBLE. What to do next?

About this time, Reggie posted a Pick of the Week by Maria Helena in New Orleans. She is a friend and a brilliant calligrapher and artist. The piece was made of multiple layers of calligraphy, and Maria Helena remarked that she didn’t like it and tried using lines of color to give structure to her piece. Genius!

Out came gold Schmeinke ink to create bands of gold over the existing writing. I liked the effect, but it wasn’t finished. Then I cut up the original wording, “One of my earliest memories...” (done in black and printed on the French manuscript background), and lined it up between the gold bands. Better.

Weirdly, my own memory held the answer. In the background noise of this childhood memory was the theme music for Days of Our Lives and the voice-over “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.” I googled the soap and found the annual synopsis of the show for 1965. Close enough. “Tom and Alice Horton were almost alone in a house that once brimmed with the activities of five children, twins Tommy and Adele, Mickey, Billy, and Marie...” I rendered this is a variation of italic script in white Dr. Marten’s bleed proof ink and a speedball C4 nib. This is the finished piece.

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Week #6
This work was done by Claire Griffin in Boston in 2017 for the session “Roman Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
I worked on this assignment for the pressurized romans in Reggie's 26 Seeds Lessons.

I have to admit that this originally started out as the beginning of my "Three Passions" piece. As the flower image came from a sketch of "3 S's" I sketched, I began seeing it come together and the 3 passions went to the back burner, for now, and another quote came to mind,

 “True strength is a blossom that thrives on subtlety." anonymous

I've always admired the spirit behind this quote, juxtaposing the delicacy of the flower with the concept of strength being more than just muscles.
We've been working with Niddegan paper a lot in Reggie's classes, so it was a natural choice. I feel the quote lends itself well to the pressurized Romans we studied. The mediums I chose were artists gouache and 23K gold leaf accents. Once the layout was complete, I went to work on the finished product, first laying the gold accents, then continuing with the painting and lettering with a #2 Mitchell Nib. The size is @12 x16".

Thanks so much to Reggie for the enthusiasm, patience and inspiration he brings with him on his travels east. I hope to carry these gifts into my own continued work and adventures in calligraphy.
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Week #7
This work was done by Cynthia Stiles in San Antonio in 2016 for the session “ DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
This piece is about 14 x 20, I used sheets Reggie had available for us which showed cosmic formations which I felt worked with my overall vision for the piece. This was placed on waxed Arches 140# cold press provided by Reggie.

I first did the quote using Neugebauer caps, the same height and then enlarged or reduced them using a copier. I played around with the layout until I was satisfied with it and copied it on a card stock paper and cut out some of the letter forms.

I really like this quote! I need to be reminded of this often.
I used the Charles Mackintosh rose as my inspiration for the cut out design which lead to a unique ‘problem’ since it left me with a large network of interconnected pieces that made it hard to spread it out. The swirl I added didn’t help either but it does give the piece energy. After some tweaking and incorporating other papers it worked out quite well.

After fitting the pieces together I used a hot foil pen to give the piece sparkle, like stars in the sky.

It was a fun piece to do, expanding on the possibilities.
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Week #8
This work was done by Carmel Cucinotta-Harmon in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “ Carolingian and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
The challenge for this month’s homework was Carolingian
Let me begin by saying I love working on vellum. Therefore, for this homework I purchase a large piece of calf parchment from Pergamena; and the best part, it was already prepared for writing.

Since I wanted to keep the natural variations and demarcations of color that ran through the skin, I did not want drawings or colored pencil (which I did want in my original thought of design) to interfere with the beauty that was before me.

I chose Bible verses that contained the word “light” in them. Using the spine outline on the skin as a divider, I placed Old Testament verses on one side and New Testament verses on the other side.
I used moon gold leaf on the dove and in the box background for scripture titles. Laying the gold leaf so that my brush strokes would not show was a challenge. I had to really thin out the Instacoll with water in order for it to flow smoothly. I think the moon gold actually settled into the parchment after a few days giving the gold leaf a brilliance that intensified over time.

For the scripture titles I used letters from the Codex handout Reggie had given in one of our sessions. For the Carolingian text I used stick ink in Indigo (G7) and Persimmon (G-8). The ink flowed from my pen onto the vellum with such ease that words fail to describe my feelings in creating this work. The symbols at the end of each verse section are done in Indigo stick ink, a spotter brush and 00 Series 7 WN brush.
Again, thank you Reggie for pushing me into creating something way beyond my expectations.
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Week #9
This work was done by Loren Deveau in Boston in 2017 for the session “Carolingian snd Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
12x17, on Arches with # 3 Mitchell’s nib and ruling pen
Moon Palace Sumi ink and Gouache
Carolingian “wide bodied” variation
 
This is a homework assignment for session 4 of Reggie’s 26 Seeds: A Year to Grow class. And it surely has been a year to grow for me! In this assignment we were tasked with using a short quote to display three different Carolingian variations. Trial and error helped me achieve a more successful outcome. The final piece was actually my third rendition.
 Even in my third and final attempt, it was a mistake with my ruling pen that forced me to make the red line around the quote thicker. I was frustrated at first, but I ended up enjoying the bold red color impact more than a thinner, cleaner line. I often seem to stumble into some design solutions because of mistakes. This quote is particularly meaningful to me personally too, which is always a key ingredient to how my art turns out.
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Week #10
This work was done by Anne Katheryn Hunter in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “ Variations on Romans ” in 26Seeds; a Year to Grow. In her own words
This piece is the largest piece I have ever worked on, and thanks to Reggie's and my classmate's encouragement, I felt empowered to take it on. The work itself is a song by Enya, titled "May It Be" written for the Lord of the Rings movies. I love listening to soundtracks, especially when focusing on my calligraphy. This song is one of my favorites, mainly because it sounds and reads like a prayer.

I started with a large piece of hot-press watercolor paper (I honestly don't remember the weight), 22 in by 34 in. and measured a three inch border around the whole paper. I then wrote out the song on a spare sheet of paper, counting the number of lines I would need for the whole song. I then drew the lines, 37 in all, on the page, about 22 mm tall.

I then counted each of the letters I would need on each line, taking into consideration which letters would be on each side of the middle line. I realized I could have written out each line in the font to determine the midpoint, however I was too anxious to begin so I just "went for it."
The lettering is done with Turner Artists' Water Colour Wine Red with a Speedball B3 nib. I then made all the edges "crisp" with a Brause EF 66 nib. Once the lettering was done, I had to think about what I wanted to do around the large border.  I began to think about tapestries and banners from the Middle Ages that may have hung in a castle and I wanted to incorporate some of J.R.R. Tolkien's own work as well. So I decided to create "tapestries" on each side and fill them with runes that J.R.R. Tolkien developed for his Lord of the Rings series.

I measured out the space for the "tapestries" and then used a ruling pen to draw the lines. I used a combination of Grumbacher Academy Watercolor Turquoise and Viridian for the blue-green background color. I then sketched out the runes and used Seral to transfer the design. I used Golden molding paste to create texture in each of the runes and Instacol to apply the 23K loose leaf yellow gold. I went through quite a bit of gold, but I loved using it and I ended up with the exact effect I wanted.

I really enjoyed working on this piece because I accomplished a large finished piece, with a quote I loved working on, and using all the new skills I have learned.

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Week #11
This work was done by Maria Helena Hoksch in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “Pressurized Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Here goes: God be your Friend....

A few years ago I got extremely bored with what I had been doing in very traditional field of calligraphy for a very traditional calligraphy organization, and all of a sudden wanted something new, free, and uncontrolled. It was a start of m “rebellion”. It can easily happen when you’ve been doing calligraphy for almost forty years like me. I happened to be in extended private study with Sheila Waters, the almost only student extended there, and came across her samples and notes on watercolor backgrounds, in one of the hundreds of drawers of treasures she has. When she was not looking, I feverishly copied the notes.

When I arrived at home, I dipped about twenty sheets of various watercolor paper in my bathtub, soaked them , and laid them one after another on top of my glass table. I applied watercolors, powders and salt. Then had them dry, and they dried absolutely smooth and straight. No tape. Amazing.

This (2017) year, about 18 months later, I was faced with Reggie’s homework assignments. I pulled out my since unused watercolor backgrounds, by kind of accident, and was determined to make some use of them. After all, what a waste otherwise. In my life, I cannot afford to waste anything, sadly! I know, sounds boring. A yawn!
What I actually did, is I took the backgrounds and let them speak to me. What color do you want. What areas should be left exposed. Some places looked like stone or marble to me, perfect for Roman caps. Like almost to be carved in. So that was meant to be. And it was the assignment.

This piece was in no way inspired or planned. I needed a piece for class and I did it. Simple as that. Not everything has to be so very deep. Deep thought does not make it necessarily better at all. Practice at best is what it is here. I constructed and drew the letters right on the original piece, filled them in with brush, and filled the rest of the space in with design elements where I saw fit. All I relied on composing the piece rather randomly was my sense of layout and design. Now, that was when the almost forty years of experience came in handy.

Later, I added the rather contemporary style of italic. For interest. And a fill. And the lines with ruling pen that gradually change color. The most sophisticated touch.

Tools used: sketching pencil, arches cover paper, fine acrylic brushes size0 and 00, various tubed watercolors (mainly Payne’s gray), Mitchell nibs, ruling pen, loose leaf gilding on top of Instacoll, golden watercolor, pointed pen.
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Week #12
This work was done by Dave Flattery in Boston in 2017 for the session “Blackletter and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In his own words:
This little book is meant to have fun with scraps. Whenever I need to cut down paper I try to keep these strips if possible. They make great little accordion fold books. People really enjoy the surprise of how much comes out of such a small package. This book is done with Zig markers on Arches text wove. It is 1 1/2 inches by 2 inches. The book cover is leather. My wife isn't allowed to throw away worn out purses. The scrap leather was that much bigger than the book pages so instead of cutting it I decided to let it wrap around and close with Velcro dots. The bottle cap is attached with glue and paper. To do that cut a strip of scrap paper narrow enough to fit inside the bottle cap then just keep rolling it up and glueing it until it is just about the same depth as the bottle cap. Simply glue it to the cap and the book cover, clamp and wait.

If there is anything that I would want people to learn from this it is that all calligraphy does not need to be some elaborate broadside with all the bells and whistles. Simple and fun has a great place too.
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Week #13
This work was done by Stephanie Chao in San Diego in 2017 for the session “DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
For me, the first few minutes of every class (meeting every other month in 2017) with Reggie was always filled with some anxiety mixed in with an eagerness to learn. Our penultimate meeting of the year was no exception. After being shown many examples of what seemed like a complicated process to create a stained glass effect, we spent the weekend learning how to create such a piece combined with a short quote of our own choosing. Patience, perseverance, and following Reggie’s step-by-step instructions made it doable.  Our homework then, of course, was to make another one. Being a fan of Hundertwasser’s art, I selected one of his quotes for my piece.

The lettering was done first in pencil on 3/8-inch line height on grid paper, spaced wide apart. I then went over the penciled letters with a B-3 nib and sumi ink, and squared off the top with a fine tip pigment pen. The background was from various copyright-free images from NASA’s Image Galleries.

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Week #14
This work was done by Sabrina Hill in San Diego in 2018 in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
For the last class in Reggie’s year-long course Primitive to Modern 2017 in San Diego, I wanted a piece that involved a little more calligraphy. I have been very intrigued with the idea of calligraphy in a circle.

An Amazon purchase of St Armand’s watercolor paper sealed the deal. The single sheet arrived, and it was round. Perfect for this project!

I chose the words to Joni Mitchell’s song The Circle Game. This had significance to me because my children used to sing it at summer camp every Friday for a dozen years. A painted pony was the only art to be considered. After working out all the layout issues, I layered pink gesso and pink Instacol on the areas to be gilded.
 Despite my impatience, I also added a coat of activator since our fearless leader mentioned that it gives a better finished look. It was worth the wait.

Once the 24kt loose leaf gold was applied twice, I began painting the horse. I used Winsor & Newton gouache and watercolors. This part took me about an hour. Onto the lettering. I originally was going to do this is black letter, but it was too heavy. After fiddling with many scripts, I settled on this variation of uncial done with Zillers gray ink (my favorite) and a pointed pen nib (Nikko G).

I did the letter in consistent rows rather than a spiral. Overall, I am happy with how this came out.

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Week #15
This work was done by Judy Meagher in Memphis in 2018 for the session “Roman Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
I did this embossed piece on Nideggan paper, with an overall paper size of 9 3/4” x 12 1/2” (text size is 7’ x 9 1/2”). The quote is one of my favorites from Walt Whitman. I first did the layout and lettering using gouache and Speedball B-1 and EF-66 nibs on Arches hot-press paper, which was then photocopied and enlarged approximately 20%. I then followed the hand-embossing technique learned in class--transferring the enlarged design to 2-ply Bristol, cutting it out with a #11 X-acto knife, and then finally embossing it onto the Nideggan using a ball stylus and light board. I particularly love textural, tone-on-tone designs, and was therefore quite pleased with how this turned out.  The second piece is 12” X 17” (design area), on Diploma Parchment. I used Burnt Sienna and Red Ochre gouache, with size 2 & 3 1/2 Mitchell nibs. The edging was done with a C-2 nib along a metal ruler.

The third piece is 7’ X 10” (design area), on Arches hot press watercolor paper. I used a variety of mixed gouache, with a size 2 Mitchell nib. This piece was inspired by the work of calligraphy artist Gemma Black.

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Week #16
This work was done by Ann Rabinovitz in New Orleans in 1990 for the session “Foundational” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Apparently age is catching up with me, as this time around attending Reggie’s Year Long class, I kept coming up short on ideas and of course eventually short on time. In reviewing past projects that I had done in his previous classes, I dug out my gimel book and was surprised to see how well it had held up and the lettering looked ok, as did the layout, so I decided to bring it to the class that dealt with making books. (If you get through the video, you will see the date on the colophon page.)

I remembered doing extensive layout of the pages of the book before actually doing the final version and after looking in several places, I found my original layouts done on the back of some old flyers that I had never thrown away. Despite knowing that one should always practice on good paper, I was amazed to see how almost finished my original ideas for the book were, being done on just plain copy paper. I had even done the washed-out water color areas.

I recalled checking other resources for maybe a more intensive meaning of the Hebrew letter “gimmel” and the words “gimulat Hasidim”. All Hebrew letters have a name and usually a meaning and some actually also have a numerical number. But there didn’t seem to be any other interpretation or meaning than what Reggie had given us, so I then concentrated on making different gimels and how to use them in the layout. I loved the open stylized letters that I used in the title page and I have no idea how I came up with the idea of making the “i” in gimel, a “gimel”.

Then I made one gimel and copied it over and over again to make the gimels on the wave page.
In my original layouts, I kept using regular solid gimels and then realized that I needed to isolate one gimel as the one soul and so kept repeating the open gimel letter from the title page somewhere once on each page. And at some point, I think I finally made a rubber stamp gimel for the last page, as it was too time consuming to keep drawing the gimels.

I also did a lot of research on decorated letters and page borders. However, I decided to only put a border on the middle pages, as they were the only pages with just text and needed something to tie them together and be a little more interesting to read, which is why the border design looks inward. It was quite difficult to make the border design come out even with the corner motif, it took a lot of precise measuring. Then I did all the lines carefully with a ruling pen. The Hebrew letters were done with a left handed cut mitchell nib and all the lettering was done with stick ink. The front and back cover pages are a folded over Japanese paper. The cover itself was a leftover piece of fabric that I had and the gimel on the cover is a piece of cut out mat board that I glued on before stretching the material over it. The inside book pages were done on a printmaking paper called “incisioni”. It is a very soft pinkish cream colored paper and nice to work on.

I am very honored to have Reggie choose it for a pic-of-the week and so glad that I included all that information in the colophon. I didn’t realize what a great way it is to record useful and important information.

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Week #17
This work was done by Patti Adams in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Go To The Limits of Your Longing

Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) is widely recognized as one of the most lyrically intense German language poets. As a musician, the profound lyricism of Rilke's writing has always inspired me, particularly his Letters to a Young Poet. (ex: “Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves…”)

The lines I chose for this calligraphy piece are from The Book of Hours which Rilke wrote between 1899-1903. It consists of three sections that focus on St. Francis and the Christian search for God. The words are taken from the first section of The Book of Hours, which is entitled The Book of Monastic Life. (The other two? The Book of Pilgrimage and The Book of Poverty and Death.) The collective title of this masterful work of Rilke’s comes from the books of hours with which all we calligraphers are familiar: the illuminated breviaries of the late Middle Ages, that combined religious edification with art containing prayers designed to structure the day through regular devotion to God. I have made many pilgrimages to The Morgan Library in NYC to study tiny, exquisite masterpieces from France and Belgium and enjoy doing my own versions of illuminated Books of Hours but New Orleans style! You can understand how I would be drawn to another type of book of hours. The study of Rilke and his works are endlessly fascinating for me and a rich resource for any calligrapher!

The piece was done on BFK Rives paper, using watercolor, acrylic and gouache. I first covered the paper with multiple glazes of transparent watercolor: burnt sienna, alizarin crimson, indigo and quinacridone gold. Then acrylic molding paste was added for dimension and texture.
 Acrylic glazes were then added atop the dried paste using the same colors, in addition to Van Dyke Brown. I also used some new spray acrylic I have in flame red. LOVE that color! It was very important though that things didn’t become too dark so the different layers of color would be able to speak.

The illumination at the top was inspired by a design of William Morris (another hero of mine!) and was done in 24K gold leaf with gouache in indigo and red ochre. I wanted the calligraphy to be loose on the page, purposely avoiding a symmetrical layout. The hand is one of Reggie’s spectacular creations and something he had us recreate in class. I love the elegance of this hand and the beauty of its variety of shapes. There was not much about this calligraphic piece that was planned out ahead of time but I did know I wanted to use this script. I wrote it in my favorite gouache, naples yellow, with a Mitchell nib.

When all was arranged, I then took out my trusty, battered old toothbrush and sprayed the piece with a fine mist of gouache for added texture and added a variety of different sized dots of 24K gold leaf. Last, but certainly not least, I picked up my stove lighter, took a deep breath and set the bottom of the piece on fire! Amazing to see my artwork burning up! I had wet rags at hand to douse the flames…!... and then finally arrived at what you see here.

Why fire you ask? I suppose my response would have to be that some drama is definitely called for when God is speaking!

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Week #18
This work was done by Ana Lucia Flores in Memphis in 2017 for the session “Carolingian and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
I am extremely humbled at the fact that my “Pancreas” was “Pic”ed. I am fairly new to calligraphy (1 and a half year). Roann Mathias, my first teacher, suggested the year-long class. I mostly took this class to destress from a busy lifestyle and found it to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I thank Reggie Ezell, my mentor and teacher, for his patience and guidance and also thank every single classmate that made this endeavor less intimidating. The “Pancreas” piece was done as an assignment where we were asked to submit three short quotes using Carolingian variations. This piece was a work of love that I gave to a prominent surgeon in Memphis, Dr. Steve Behrman, as an expression of gratitude for saving my mother-in-law’s life. Dr. Behrman is a surgical oncology professor at the University of Tennessee and chair of the Surgery Department at Baptist Memorial Hospital. He heads the Kosten Pancreatic Cancer Research Endowment Fund. After giving him this piece, I found out that he is one of 13 examiners in the nation that administers the oral surgical boards for all surgeons in the U.S. that are being certified by The American Board of Surgery (I am so thankful I did not know this fact while making the piece for I would have been paralyzed by fear of making a mistake). Dr. Behrman’s primary area of expertise is pancreatic cancer.

My mother-in-law suffered frequent small bowel obstructions that engendered unbearable pain culminating in multiple monthly hospitalizations over the past year. These obstructions were misdiagnosed in Nashville as stemming from adhesions secondary to a previous gynecological surgery. No one wanted to operate for fear of creating more “adhesions”. Dr. Behrman, however, agreed to take her as a patient and operate. Rather than finding adhesions, Dr. Behrman found a tumor blocking her small intestine. Fortunately, the tumor was a carcinoid tumor which is very slow growing and has a good prognosis. Without Dr. Behrman, she would have never been diagnosed and properly treated.

The “Pancreas” was done on a 22.5 x 15-inch Arches Watercolor Hot press paper. The color tones surrounding the diagram were done with a combination of Tim Holtz’s Distress Inks (top left corner: Peeled paint, old paper, and antique linen; bottom left corner: wilted violet, blueprint sketch, and hickory smoke; bottom right hand corner: Black soot, hickory smoke, and antique linen; top right hand corner: hickory smoke, old paper, and antique linen). I used Reggie’s technique of placing removable masking tape to delineate the borders of the sketch and used Tim Holtz’s mini blending tool to achieve blending between colors (there are several fun YouTube videos on different ways to utilize these inks). Purple is the color for “pancreatic cancer awareness”. It was important for me to use the color purple in a corner for this reason. Pancreatic cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer related deaths in the nation. Surgical resection for early cancer detection is the mainstay of treatment and involves a lengthy 7-9 hour operation called a “Whipple” procedure (pancreaticoduodenectomy) where the gallbladder, duodenum, part of the jejunum, and head of the pancreas are removed, after which the remaining organs reattached. The color green in the shading represents the biliary system (comprised of the gallbladder and biliary enzymes produced by the pancreas) that is removed.
For several weeks, I diligently studied Frank Netter’s “Atlas of Human Anatomy” to ensure proper anatomic drawing and labeling of structures. Frank Netter is a celebrated medical illustrator who was also a surgeon. After being satisfied with the look and size of my sketch (10.5” x 8.2”), I traced it to the Arches paper with the aid of our calligraphy light box. The diagram shading effects were accomplished by hatching and cross-hatching using a combination of Staedler Lumograph pencils (H, B, and F) and different-sized Sakura Micron Pens (thanks to Reggie for introducing them!) I wanted the pancreas to stand out and thus used a “Sunburst Yellow” Prismacolor pencil. I shaded the vessels using a red Pilot Precise V5 pen. I spray fixed (learned thanks to Reggie) the piece prior to labeling all organs to prevent smudging.

 In this piece, I envisioned representing the past, present, and future of my learning different writing styles. I labeled the Roman variations in the organs as a continuation of exercising what I had just learned during the previous classes. Calligraphy has very little room for error, and I decided to pencil the letters first and then used a 08 and 01 micron Sakura pen for lettering and 005 and 01 micron pen for the serifs on the Romans. The “pancreatic duct” was lettered with a white Uni-Ball Signo pen after coloring the duct black with a 08 micron pen. I made each letter a different width and height to give the pancreas an undulating and three-dimensional appearance. The Italics seen were made with a Pigma 1.0 mm pen and chosen to represent the “future” of my learning process. Unfortunately, it was quite audacious to use Italics without first learning them. I am ashamed to say that everything I was NOT SUPPOSED to do, I did! When the homework was due and Italics simultaneously being learned, all I could think for two days of classes was how every single “anatomical” stroke of my letterforms was wrong. Perhaps I can redeem myself in the future.

Most medical terminology is derived from Latin; thus, my first quote not only represents one of the oldest languages spoken (700 B.C.) but follows the tradition of using Latin in Medicine. I used the Roman Uncial (Middle Ages) style for the first quote. I ground a red Chinese ink stick (Hukaiwen brand bought on Amazon) and used a 2.5 mm Mitchell nib for a 6 mm size letterform. Spanish, my native language, is a “vulgarized Latin” which was developed in the 6th century A.D. I used the classic Carolignian manuscript learned in Reggie’s class. The letterform was a 4 mm height and made by grinding a Chinese ink stick that was given to me. English, the “bastard language” (mixture of Germanic, Latin, and Romance languages especially French and spoken around the 10th century A.D.) is represented by the modern/Humanist variation and was done with Sumi ink and an EF 66 nib. I used a 005 micron Sakura to draw in the serifs.

This has been a particular difficult write up to do as our classmate and friend, Nancy Bolton Grable, recently passed away with late stage pancreatic cancer that had been diagnosed just last year. She was a sweet soul that impacted each of us in a great way. None of our classmates knew she was ill, and I am amazed that she always had a smile on her face, a great attitude, and made the five-hour trip from St. Louis, MO to Memphis. I pray that she did not suffer. We will all miss her! Godspeed, Nancy!

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Week #19
This work was done by Maria Helena Hoksch in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “ Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
I had come back to this “design” several times over past three or so years. My first version was on dark blue paper with pink ink. Quite interesting and horrible at the same time. There were sketches and color samplings in between. Then this. I picked the idea up again for Reggie’s class this past year when the homework was to be something italic. I found at my studio the former trials, all neatly together, and even a ready deer skin that I had obviously planned to use, already lined in pencil. Ready to go. So I decided to make learning day out of it.

This piece is mostly study in texture and color, layout came third and is rather basic if not a bit lopsided in alignment. My study was to use two slanted lettering styles together, each with a different slant, not often done, I guess. Have them play off each other at different angles. See if it’s any pleasant to the eye. I used rather simple narrow italic and very flourished copperplate. It is obvious on that piece that my italic is a bit rusty. I don’t practice it every day as I do copperplate.

 also reversed the basic historic manuscript color rule. I did more important lettering in black and rather unimportant part in red. Yet the combination is absolutely classic and almost glows on the skin, as anything would.
I The red script is just a lacy decoration for the serious black text. Play on contrast in more ways than one.

Then I went right on to my own “rule”, or character flaw, some would say. It is: more is more, more is never enough, if you can add, just add. (Actually I’m trying to make “Step away while you can!” my new rule. But here I obviously added this interesting light violet blue and rose gold watercolor leafing to the design to literally fill all of the space.

And even though the interlinear space is nonexistent, totally squeezed out, the piece has overall light and airy feeling, at least if you step back, from some distance. The black letters seem to float atop of the lacy elements. Even though the Black was done first.

The metallic watercolor gives it just a bit of illuminating lift of subtle shimmer, as true gold gilding would have heavily overpowered the feel of the piece.

Materials used: deerskin parchment, black sumi ink, various gouaches, metallic watercolor, Mitchell nib, pointed pen, ruling pen.

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Week #20
This work was done by Eugenia Uhl in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “Variations on Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
The first time I took Reggie, I made a small book of all the new ideas that I learned. So, I decided to do that again in the last year long Reggie class ever. We had a fun send off party for him our last weekend together in New Orleans complete with a “Second Line” Jazz Band. Wish you could have all joined us.

But before that, I made this book.

I decided to make a larger one this time, this one measures 12x12. The cover is woven strips of paper painted from the colors for my color wheel. I used this as a guide thought out the book when deciding on color combinations. I approached the book thinking that it is not a finished piece, to give myself the freedom to experiment with different techniques such as watercolor, gilding, adding photographs to my calligraphy, and collage. I really did not want the pressure of a finished piece. I just wanted to be free. And to make some beautiful letters to he best of my ability guided by Reggie’s class and homework.
I was riding in my car one day singing along to Earth, Wind and Fire’s "You Are A Shining Star", so decided that would be my main wording. That’s why the first gilded piece looks like an album cover. So pieces have more of the songs words than others. I did use other quotes in the book to keep it interesting, and send secret messages to people who would view it.

All of the photographs were printed out on my basic printer using nicer paper cut down to 8.5x11. Some photographs are cut up xeroxes. I used a variety of paper though out the book including, Arches cover, Arches watercolor, Bruga, Stonehedge, and Arches text wove. Basically I just went from whim to whim compositionally trying to create the beautiful letters that Reggie was teaching us. I used a lot of gouache, moon gold, palladium, watercolors, embossing, walnut ink. The colophon was done using yellow ochre and indigo which was inspired by an article by Carol DuBosch I read in Bound and Lettered, Volume 14, Number 4. If you have a specific question, please contact me: eugphoto@bellsouth.net

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Week #21
This work was done by Elissa Barr in Boston in 2017 for the session “Variations on Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
 I have been interested in this simple text- This too shall pass- for a long time. It often gives me the courage to keep going when working on a tough project or having a bad day or dealing with a difficult client. For me it is knowing that in the morning things will look better.

Somehow it seemed fitting to do the lettering in gold. These letters were drawn about an inch tall. I then began tweaking the layout, pushing the letters closer together and trying to resolve spacing issues.
I  then enlarged my design so that the lettering was about an inch and a half high, cleaned it up, transferred the words to black Arches Cover using white Saral paper, painted the letters with Instacol- about 3 letters at a time- and gilded it with patent gold leaf.

I like the end result- especially that the gold and the edges of the letters reflect the texture of the paper and that every letter is touching another letter. For me, this is a reminder of the days of our life are all connected and that life is sometimes a bumpy ride.
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Week #22
This work was done by Elissa Barr in Boston in 2017 for the session “Variations on Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
 This work was done by Robin Gebhart in Seattle in 2016 for the session “DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:

As I remember this piece, it was towards the end of Reggie’s Primitive to Modern class and we were asked to bring a short quote, a simple image to go with the quote and a long list of supplies to class. Those of us who like a little time to think about the direction of our projects saw warning lights in our heads. We had no choice though, we had to trust Reggie.

Following along in class, I made a decision with the lettering to go against the traditional western standard of reading text from left to right, moving down the page to instead placing the words in a left to right, rising format.

It makes the viewer pause for just a moment and slow down – even though the text is very short.
By doing this, I hoped that the text reflected the content both in aspiration and thinking outside a comfort zone.

The image of space was an obvious one, but what to do with the image? I started with the radial lines and then hit a wall. Reggie noticed that I needed some inspiration and he reminded me of an artist he had earlier introduced to the class, Jesse Allen. After viewing images of Allen’s work on Reggie’s computer, I had an interesting solution to the visual problem and went to work creating strange amoeboid images to complete the piece. It was fun to have other classmates get a little shocked by the visual punch as they walked by my table.

Thank you Reggie. With your help this was a fun, engaging, challenging, spontaneous and wonderfully stress-free class project. Shouldn’t have worried at all!
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Week #23
This work was done by Maggie Naylor in Memphis in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
 This booklet was completed in the 2017 26 Seeds Class/Memphis, Tennessee ……… one of Reggie’s last cities for the year-long classes. He is such a giving teacher and we all benefitted from his instruction one more time.

One homework assignment was a Manuscript Book with 4 hole Japanese stab binding. The book was made for my husband, Bob. He is a trivia guru and knows more facts in his head than I’ll ever remember. Each time we passed horse statues he would patiently tell me what the stances meant.
I made this booklet for him in case HE ever forgets.

The poem, Statues in the Park, was written on Arches Text Wove paper using ground pigments for the letting and Mitchell 2 and 2.5 nibs. The subtle pale colors on the pages were done with pastel chalks. Completing the book, I used paste paper for the cover and made a “bookmark” with real horse hair. What a fun project! Thanks again Reggie for all the calligraphers you have taught through the years. Looking forward to being in another class with you again as you begin your NEXT journey.
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Week #24
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:
“The Quilt” (the one on white paper with the color wheel designed as a quilt)

This piece was done with gouache on Arches hot press watercolor paper. It was for the 26 seeds class, in the fifth month when we were working on color wheels. It is a companion piece to the previous one called “The Quiltmaker.” I work in series, because it takes me more than one piece to express my feelings about a topic.

The quote, from the book Anonymous Was a Woman, spoke to my situation at the time of being a mother with 3 young children.
I appreciated the fact that even though women’s lives are full of household duties, there was always an outlet for creativity, however practical or useful.

I challenged myself with the smaller capitals by using a #4 Mitchell nib, to do pressurized Romans. The bouncing was based on a work by Alice Koeth, usually known as just Alice. I felt really satisfied with the work. The large Neuland words were filled in with colors from the color wheel. The quilt design at the top represented the assignment to use a color wheel in the piece. It’s still one of my favorite pieces that I did in Reggie’s class.
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Week #25
This work was done by Gail Robichaud in Boston in 2017 for the session “Variations on Romans ” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
The three pieces featured here are all the same Miles Davis quote. As the words imply, the work is the result of playing.

The first version is done in sumi ink with an eye dropper used for the letters. My intent is for the words to be illegible and for the piece to make you ask the question —What is it? The gray is a mix of sumi and water and the red highlights are done in acrylic.
The next piece has a wash of walnut ink. The rectangles, squares and circles are done in watercolor. There is a softness about the colors and where they have mixed they have the appearance of sea glass. The lettering is done in sumi and the small gold circles are gilded in 14K gold.

The last piece is done entirely in sumi ink. The intent is for the design to flow and for the words to have a dance-like quality.
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Week #26
This work was done by Lee Thurston in Boston in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
One of the homework assignments from class five in the “26 Seeds: A Year to Grow” class called for a quote written as a finished original piece using “fine materials.” This page is my response to that assignment.

My yoga teacher of many years, John Calabria, provided me with one of his favorite quotes. For me the quote is contemplative and speaks of reassurance and mindfulness. I chose to write it out in my favorite of Reggie’s italic variations, the one from the Calligraphers Engagement Calendar.

I made Sumi paper with Arches Text Wove. I gently dropped Sumi ink water (in a large pan) so it floated on the surface and swirled the ink to create the marbled effect. I carefully lowered the paper onto the ink surface until the entire paper surface was touching the water and ink. I then removed the paper to dry.
Using a dry pigment mixed with Gum Arabic in class five, I then wrote out the quote. In class I’d received the Iron Oxide Red 222 Dark #48250 as my color for the day. I loved writing with the pigment and saved what was left to use for this piece.

I created a golden dragonfly using patent gold to grace the edge of the quote and add that “fine material” feature. I think it’s now ready for a frame.

You have to be able to float the paper on top of a water surface so container should be larger than paper being used.

We dropped sumi gently to pool on top of water and swirled it a bit.

Drop one side of paper to surface and gently lower the other so that all of paper surface touches water surface.

Let dry.
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Week #27
This work was done by Lisa Devlin in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
I spent the first 18 years of my life in New York before attending college in New Orleans. Some of my friends there were native Louisianians and I admired, almost envied, their ties to such a rich heritage. It seemed to me that anyone could become a New Yorker, but you had to be born a Southerner, and in particular, a Louisianian. One friend from New Iberia used to proudly give small gifts of tabasco sauce, little handkerchief dolls from the Shadows on the Teche house and regional brochures. Once she gave a professor an ice chest filled with boudin. Another friend invited a few of us to stay with her grandmother in Thibodaux where on the stove a pot of red beans and rice awaited us when we walked in the door. Eventually I would learn how to make a fairly decent pot of gumbo, but it wasn’t the soup of my youth or my heritage. Perhaps that’s why creating images about Louisiana is important to me. It’s claiming a piece of this culture for myself, reflecting my admiration for its uniqueness and my concern for its future.

Working as a graphic designer years later, I’ve created many logos and because of that I’m particularly interested in symbols—their power to represent an idea and a culture. I thought: what if Louisiana were its own civilization like ancient Egypt, complete with its own symbols? The fleur-de-lis and mother pelican feeding a nest of babies are examples and can be seen everywhere on just about anything. But could I transform some well-known ancient symbols to represent our own unique, modern day concerns?

And that’s how the Bayou Ouroboros was born. The original ouroboros is a snake (sometimes a dragon) depicted in a circle (sometimes an infinity sign) consuming its own tail. There are different interpretations for this symbol but basically it represents the cycle of life and death and rebirth. In place of the snake I created an alligator to represent this cycle here in Louisiana.
In this sense, coastal erosion is threatening the existence of local communities and a way of life. People in areas such as the Isle de Jean Charles have had to be relocated. Roads and even cemeteries are being washed out into the Gulf of Mexico. Many sons of generations of shrimpers have left home, no longer able to make a decent living from a vocation that was once a source of pride as well as income.
That’s why I find the threats posed by coastal erosion so disturbing. Still, there’s hope we can slow down the erosion, restore some of the lost land and preserve what remains. To me, the bayou ouroboros is a symbol of that hope. A journalist named Mike Tidwell documents this erosion and its consequences so movingly in his book Bayou Farewell. ere are many haunting passages and I thought the last paragraph would be appropriate for a calligraphy text to accompany the bayou ouroboros symbol.

The words “Bayou Ouroboros” that appear below the symbol are my own variation of an Italic variation. I drew and refined it in pencil, then scanned the design and added color to it in Photoshop. e text block from Tidwell’s book is in Italic and drawn with a Mitchell 3 nib in gouache which was then scanned and also brought into the Photoshop file. The alligator was originally drawn by hand, scanned, refined in Adobe Illustrator and then transferred to Photoshop. I layered the ouroboros with other images and adjusted the colors and textures. I like to think of the final result as an alligator ouroboros sun rising like a fiery ball at dawn from a dark and mysterious swamp.

More than 30 years have passed since I graduated from college. I never thought I’d spend them in Louisiana and I have no immediate plans to say farewell.

It’s home.

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Week #28
This work was done by Linda Boswell in Memphis in 2017 for the session “Variations on Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Psalm 118:24 has always been an uplifting verse for me and a favorite that I had done often during my “Self-Taught” calligraphy days-before meeting Reggie. We had learned about Roman variations and my goal throughout the course had been to try as many techniques as I could to learn as much as possible during the year, knowing that I would continue to learn and practice for years to come. I actually did three different quotes for this assignment, all in different Roman Cap Variations and colors.

I had never worked on Arches Black Cover paper, so I wanted to try it and came up with a design that filled the page. Using Saral Transfer Paper, I traced the letters on the black paper. I used Dr. Ph Martin’s Bleed Proof White with my gouache. Both of my gouache colors were mixed- white was used to lighten the value of the yellow and the orange was made with yellow and white. Two different Roman hands were used for this quote. The orange letters in the verse were from a variation in ”Schrift and Symbol”, using the Speedball B-2 nib along with the Brause EF66 nib.
The word, “Rejoice”, was done in a hand by Rudolf Koch. The yellow letters were drawn and filled in with a brush.

My father was an engineer and he had given me a number of his drafting tools, so I had an old ruling pen that I wanted to try to use for my straight lines. After much practice, I lightly drew a circle in pencil and started the yellow straight lines in the interior of the paper and moved to the outside edges all the way around.

I chose this radial design to provide an image of a new day to emphasize the meaning of the verse.

These Roman letters are made so close together that the words form a focal point for the message that radiates out, like the sunshine of the new day that the Lord has made.
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Week #29
This work was done by Gayle Waddle Wilkes in Seattle in 2016 for the session “Blackletter: Modernizing a Traditional Calligraphic Hand” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
While studying Blackletter I heard this quote on television and thought it would make a good traditional piece of calligraphy. What can be more traditional than Shakespeare? And I felt the image of a swan and cygnet would make an lovely illuminated letter.

I researched free images on the internet and came up with one that could easily be adapted to create an interesting combination of letter and image.

After sketching in the decorated letter and lining the Nideggen paper I did the lettering with a broad-edged pen using Moon Palace Sumi ink. After it was dry, I made a “mask” to leave only the area around the gilded letter exposed so that I that the body of lettering was protected.
Per instructions, the gilding with Instacoll and patent gold was done before painting the Swan and cygnet. I used gouache to paint the swans and background I outlined both the gilding and the image with a 005 Micron pen. I filled in the awkward space at the end of the piece with an additional decoration to create a more symmetrical overall design. The credit was done with a pointed pen and water color as I wanted to pick up the color of the bird’s beaks but be softer so that the illumination and text were the main focus of the piece. Overall, I think the design works well which hopefully overshadows the weak lettering.

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Week #30
This work was done by Sabrina Hill in San Diego in 2017 for the session “DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid” in PRIMITIVE TO MODERN. In her own words:
About Koi Po-loi
Sabrina Hill

As part of the Primitive to Modern Class in San Diego, Reggie wanted to show us how to make use of digital images to create unusual compositions.

And so, it begins…

We started with a piece of heavy watercolor paper that Reggie had lovingly coated with wax. This creates a permanently sticky surface that allows you to place paper cut-outs and lift them off to reposition. (NOTE: Reggie has a fancy-schmancy machine that applies the wax, but you can use a tacky spray adhesive—I recommend 3M™ Scotch® Spray Mount™ Spray Adhesive).

Our homework the preceding month was to come with 11 x 17 prints of photos (some from the Hubble telescope, others from stained glass or the ocean) and a few phrases to render in calligraphy. The photos provided the color that would be used to “paint” this picture. I chose “If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit.” By Banksy. Calligraphy was done with Speedball “B” nibs and a Brause pointed pen nib. Though the “B” nib is rounded, you square off the letters with the pointed pen nib. The effect is a very even letter with chiseled ends. Using a printer, we took our calligraphy, cut it into words and phrases, and enlarged or shrunk it to produce changes in letter sizes. Using this technique allows you to experiment much more easily that writing it out. It’s very satisfying to play with the words until they come together in a pleasing pattern.
Next came the images. Using a very pleasing blue photo, I laid it down on the waxy paper. It looked like water to me (though I think it was a close-up of stained glass). I thought I could see fish. And that got me thinking about Koi. The first time we went to Hawaii (many years ago) there was a gorgeous koi pond in the hotel. I was mesmerized by the stunning creatures. I grabbed other photos with patterns that seemed “fishy” and went to town drawing Koi fish and enlarging or reducing the drawings until I had something.

After cutting out the fish, I knew that the image needed movement. Ripples came next, then word placement. A hole punch gave me air bubbles. While placing the air bubbles, I kept losing them against the white background. I grabbed the blue fish cut out that made way for the orange fish and loaded it up with bubbles. It was poised over the lower right corner.

And I liked the effect. So, it stayed.

I call this Koi Po-loi. I made postcards and I send them out frequently. This process was very satisfying and kind of joyful. It evolved as I got deeper into it. I like the very graphic quality of it, and I liked working on the waxy paper.

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Week #31
This work was done by Peggy Kunkel in Memphis in 2017 for the session “Carolingian and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Aunt Jane’s Quilt

This book started with the stick ink. I “fell in love” with the red orange stick ink, then had to find something to do with it. Several years ago I did a large broadside about making quilts. The text came from Aunt Jane of Kentucky by Eliza Calvert Hall. I chose portions of that text to write in this book. The design took a while. Letting my fingers do the searching, I visited Pinterest looking for antique quilts that used orange and came across a 19th c. Mennonite quilt. I did not want to replicate the quilt, but use elements of it.

Deciding to use individual blocks as my design elements, I went searching for ways to create colors similar to the photo. First I tried replicating the blocks using watercolor on a piece of scrap Arches 90# HP. They didn’t look right, so I tried colored pencils, which also failed. Next I came up with the idea to create the blocks using paper.
My calligraphy paper drawer was very limited in colors, so I went to my card making papers which are archival, had many different colors and textures that I could use.   First I tired cutting 1/8” strips, then cutting them again and piecing the blocks together. This was exceedingly difficult and didn’t work. Then I remembered that I had a 1/8” punch and punched many different colors and textures. The punch didn’t create an exact square, but it was consistent. Using a xacto blade and my fingernail I was able to make them work. Finally I used a Pigma pen and a white Prismacolor pencil to create several patterns. The design elements were glued onto right hand page of a double spread.

The finished book measures 11” x 4 13/16. Both covers are French folds for greater strength. I don’t remember what the paper is as I have had it a very long time, but the color was just perfect. The pages are done with Arches 90# HP and were cut individually.

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Week #32
This work was done by Maria Helena Hoksch in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Sing a New Song:

I had come back to this “design” several times over past three or so years. My first version was on dark blue paper with pink ink. Quite interesting and horrible at the same time. There were sketches and color samplings in between. Then this. I picked the idea up again for Reggie’s class this past year when the homework was to be something italic. I found at my studio the former trials, all neatly together, and even a ready deer skin that I had obviously planned to use, already lined in pencil. Ready to go. So I decided to make learning day out of it.

This piece is mostly study in texture and color, layout came third and is rather basic if not a bit lopsided in alignment. My study was to use two slanted lettering styles together, each with a different slant, not often done, I guess. Have them play off each other at different angles. See if it’s any pleasant to the eye. I used rather simple narrow italic and very flourished copperplate. It is obvious on that piece that my italic is a bit rusty. I don’t practice it every day as I do copperplate.

I also reversed the basic historic manuscript color rule. I did more important lettering in black and rather unimportant part in red.
Yet the combination is absolutely classic and almost glows on the skin, as anything would.   The red script is just a lacy decoration for the serious black text. Play on contrast in more ways than one.

Then I went right on to my own “rule”, or character flaw, some would say. It is: more is more, more is never enough, if you can add, just add. (Actually I’m trying to make “Step away while you can!” my new rule. But here I obviously added this interesting light violet blue and rose god watercolor leafing to the design to literally fill all of the space.

And even though the interlinear space is nonexistent, totally squeezed out, the piece has overall light and airy feeling if you step back and look at it at the distance. The black letters seem to float atop of the lacy elements. Even though the Black was done first.

The metallic watercolor gives it just a bit of illuminating lift of subtle shimmer, as true gold gilding would have heavily overpowered the feel of the piece.

Materials used: deerskin parchment, black sumi ink, various gouaches, metallic watercolor, Mitchell nib, pointed pen, ruling pen.

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Week #33
This work was done by Claire Griffin in Boston in 2017 for the session “Basic Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
“Lettering is Order.

It is the means to a higher consciousness.”

Friedrich Neugebauer

I did this piece as a homework assignment for Reggie’s 26 Seeds Session in Boston, Massachusetts. We were studying Roman Variations and were given this quote by the pioneering letter artist, Friedrich Neugebauer. Needless to say, I was intrigued and excited.

It was important to me that I due justice to Neugebauer’s quote, so I started by sketching some ideas and interpretations, focusing on the word, order. When I think of order, I conjure up images of geometry, shapes that fit together and how they relate as well as stand alone.
I also considered color, starting with primaries and then onto secondaries. Finally, the challenge was to put all these elements together in a visually cohesive way.

I pulled out a piece of Arches hot press watercolor paper and got started. After laying everything out with pencil, I started the lettering with black sumi ink, using a speedball C-0 Nib. Then came the shapes, layered upon each other, painted with gouache. When I was finished with the painting, I outlined the shapes with a micron pen. I wanted to accent the author’s name, so I incorporated it into the bottom in black, painting the counter spaces randomly. The large blocks of black tie all the other geometric spaces together. The finished work is @ 14 x 16 inches.

I really enjoyed this assignment, but let me add that I really enjoyed everything about Reggie’s 26 Seeds year-long class. It certainly was a Year to Grow.

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Week #34
This work was done by Lee Thurston in Boston in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Antiques for Sale

For my final homework assignment in the 26 Seeds: A Year to Grow class, I created a manuscript book using italic letters. Instead of using a long quotation, I wrote a short story about my experience as an antique dealer in a group shop located in Concord, Massachusetts.

The first page of my book featured a D.H. Lawrence quote about “old things,” written in Winsor & Newton oxide of chromium gouache and using Reggie’s italic variation from the Calligraphers Engagement Calendar. On the following pages, I wrote about my antiques in italic, using Winsor & Newton ivory black gouache.

Lastly, I used chromium of oxide gouache on the colophon page to write my name and date.
 For the left side of the book, I scanned pages from a collection of antique sermons onto Arches Text Wove. The story itself appears on the right-hand pages, also on Arches Text Wove.

I illustrated the book with simple drawings of my antiques. I then stitched a small piece of Arches Text Wove to create a pocket holding old sampler verses on a “sermon” page. Several verses written in italic variations fill that pocket.

The stick binding method seemed appropriate for my book, because it allowed me to tie an antique pen to the cover for the “stick!”

The spread of the 2 pages is 8.5"x13".

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Week #35
This work was done by Stephanie Chao in San Diego in 2017 for the session “DESIGN: Deconstructing the Grid” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
For me, the first few minutes of every class (meeting every other month in 2017) with Reggie was always filled with some anxiety mixed in with an eagerness to learn. Our penultimate meeting of the year was no exception. After being shown many examples of what seemed like a complicated process to create a stained glass effect, we spent the weekend learning how to create such a piece combined with a short quote of our own choosing. Patience, perseverance, and following Reggie’s step-by-step instructions made it doable.  Our homework then, of course, was to make another one. Being a fan of Hundertwasser’s art, I selected one of his quotes for my piece.

The lettering was done first in pencil on 3/8-inch line height on grid paper, spaced wide apart. I then went over the penciled letters with a B-3 nib and sumi ink, and squared off the top with a fine tip pigment pen. The background was from various copyright-free images from NASA’s Image Galleries.

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Week #36
This work was done by Nita Padamsee in Boston in 2017 for the session “Carolingian and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
Make the Ordinary Come Alive: Small book, 5.5”wide X 5’’ tall.  Well, what can I say, the title says it all...Having taken Reggie’s year long class a few years ago, trying new techniques this time around, was important. I have shied away from collage and had never put together a book with wooden skewers which I found on YouTube, so here was a chance to pull it all together.  Since the prose talked about raising children and making the “Ordinary Come Alive” I used ‘Ordinary’ cover stock paper for the pages of the book and bright decorative papers I found in my collection of scraps, for it to ‘Come Alive’. A Carolingian variation with its roundish form lent itself to the topic and was rendered in Sumi ink with a Mitchell nib on Arches text wove. Calligraphy for the cover was done with a Tim’s pen in W&N blue ink.


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Week #37
This work was done by Debra Flemming in New Orleans in 2017 for the session “Italic and Variations” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
This piece was done for the homework assignment on vellum. I liked the irregular shape of the skin and wanted a small quote to compliment it. The first time I used this Plato quote was for a wedding certificate for my daughter. I thought it was a perfect fit for this small piece. The next step was creating an illustration. I have always loved the textile designs of William Morris and drew on them for inspiration. I found several that were in various stages of completion.  Coupled with the idea of the incomplete song, it seemed like the perfect pairing.

The quote was done using indigo stick ink and a Mitchell nib. The flourishing of the Italic hand echoes the flowing vines. After working out the illustration, I traced it on the vellum using saral paper and colored it in with gouache and patent gold. This is only my second time working on vellum. What a marvelous surface on which to write!

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Week #38
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:
“The earth will be filled…”
For each of the homework assignments, I spent a lot of time thinking about what to do, and then researching the topic. This was before the internet, so it wasn’t always east to find images to include in the art. During this part of my life, my faith was a driving factor. I was always seeing connections between different verses in the bible, and this was one of those instances.  Calligraphically, I was exploring (ok, showing off!) all the different styles of Roman caps that had been presented in class and in Reggie’s copious handouts. All the lettering was done with gouache in mitchell nibs, on a full-size piece of black Bugra paper.  
I LOVE working on black paper, thanks to Reggie!  

The gilding in the center used molding paste and acrylic gloss medium with variegated gold leaf.  I ended up using the same illustration of the world in another piece.
The border of lettering around the outside is pressurized Romans, with exaggerated serifs. The colors were the ones I used in the color wheel assignment. I felt very satisfied with this piece, both visually and conceptually. I felt like I was progressing with lettering Roman caps, which had been a goal of mine for several years.

2018
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