All Will Come Right

Last week, I did a piece that was part of a Churchill quote. This week, I have done the second half! The two pieces are designed to fit in a square shaped layout, and be displayed next to each other. Eventually (perhaps not next week, but at some point) they will be joined by a third piece which will fit beneath them, being twice as wide as it is high, so that the whole ensemble creates a larger square to complete the whole quotation.

All Will Come Right

I’ve inverted it here to give it a nice chalk board style look. It’s visually very similar to the piece last week (of course, that’s the point!) so to create a little contrast, I thought it would be nice to see it in white-on-black. It’s so simple to make it a negative, and it almost feels like cheating, because you end up with something that feels so different. Sometimes I see work done by others and I can’t tell if they’ve done it on black paper with chalk or or some other white medium or whether it’s a simple inversion, so it’s interesting to finally get round to doing so with a piece of my own.

Here are the two pieces in the same photo so you can compare:

Lift Up Your Hearts, All Will Come Right

The goal was to make these pieces resemble each other as much as possible. The obvious choice is to have them structured the same, and to used the same styles. Of course, the similar sentence structure is not only useful as a tool of great rhetoric, but also helps with keeping the two pieces the same. It’s simple enough to see that the styles are the same, and that the banner in the middle is the same shape with the same Tuscan font, but there are also a few other structural similarities that I’ve worked into the pieces to keep them consistent. For instance, the underside of the first line swoops down, then up, in order to match the banner beneath it. Both pieces also have a semicircle in the centre at the top, and have a similar shape at the bottom with the leg of the H/R respectively.

Lift Up Your Hearts

Following on from last week, this week has seen a lot of broad nibbed calligraphy practice, which means burning through paper at an alarming rate! The good news is that I bought 20 nice A5 Rhodia notebooks a few weeks ago, half of them with a dot-grid pattern and the other half plain. The dot grid is great for sketching out ideas without having to worry about marking out boundaries and guidelines; unfortunately, the spacing between the dots don’t quite match the width of any of the broad nibbed pens I bought, so it doesn’t help too much with calligraphy practice.

Lift Up Your Hearts

This piece is the first in a two (maybe three) part series that I’m going to do. The plan is to have them structurally as similar as possible. This one is half of a sentence spoken by Winston Churchill on June 12, 1941 in his speech to the Allied Delegates. I first heard it when it gained some popularity due to being auto tuned into a funny little song, but the meaning of the message stuck with me. The full phrase is “Lift up your hearts; all will come right.” It’s then followed with “Out of the depths of sorrow and of sacrifice will be born again the glory of mankind.” It’s stirring to think of the context in which those words were spoken. The Second World War had been going for two years, and would continue for another four. Knowing what we do now lends a feeling of gravity to the words, but I feel it’s a message that holds meaning in many contexts.

Here’s a shot that is a little closer and shows the banner and the Tuscan style lettering of the word “your”.

Lift Up Your Hearts Detail

The piece has quite bold and simple shapes on the top and bottom, so I kept the banner from being too detailed so that it doesn’t distract from other elements, whereas usually I like to include a bit more detail. The main reason I’m keeping it as simple as it is, however, is that for it to work side by side with the next piece in the series, being too detailed could make the composition look too busy. I may make a 3rd piece with the phrase “Out of the depths of sorrow and of sacrifice will be born again again the glory of mankind,” which would be a wider piece to fit beneath the first two above.

Don’t be Afraid to Dream

This week is another New-Pen-Week! Last time, I got some Rotring Rapidographs, which I use pretty much the same as the old fine liners I started out with. Not much changed in the style of work I produced, but for me, the process was changed a little. This time, however, I got some Pilot Parallels, which are a kind of fountain pen for broad nibbed calligraphy. I’ve been wanting to start practising some broad nibbed calligraphy for a while now, so that I can further my understanding of Gothic/Blackletter styles, and this week allowed me the chance to give it a go!

Don't be Afraid to Dream

I found a wonderful image that displays a style of Blackletter that I haven’t seen reproduced quite the same anywhere else. The title of the image is “Williams Style of German Text”, which doesn’t seem to bring up much other than the original image, so I don’t have much more information than what you see there. I’m sure there is much to learn in exploring the style, and I’m going to spend the next few weeks trying to understand the intricacies of what makes the letters function in the way they do, but in the mean time, I took some inspiration from the style, as well as several other styles I’ve seen around the web, and came up with the piece above.

The pens came with two inks, which was unexpected, but it provided me with the opportunity to experiment with a bit of colour, which is something I’ve been purposefully avoiding in other works in an effort to focus on form. After all, restrictions are what give us guidance, and having too many directions to explore often leads to little progress. That being said, it’s sometimes refreshing to allow yourself a little deviation. These inks are black and red, though refills are available for all manner of colours, so I’m interested in getting some more in the future. In the mean time, I found neat feature on my camera that replaces individual colours in a photo for others, no photoshopping required. Here, I’ve replaced the red ink with a green, blue, and brighter red. Look how each colour creates a different feel for each piece. Colour matters!

Don't be Afraid to Dream Colours

The speckles that surround the letters were made by pulling on the tip of the nib, and letting it go, which flicks the ink on to the paper. Unfortunately, it also flicks it everywhere else, so I ended up with some red fingers, pens and surfaces. Before I did the speckles, I first drew out some guidelines for the word “Dream”, then wrote in the red parts. Once they were dry, I went over in black to complete the bottom part of each letter, then added in the Copperplate above with a brush pen. The speckles came in last because I didn’t want to get my hands so messy if I ended up making a mistake and discarding the paper!

Tuesday

So last week, I uploaded Monday as the first part of my Days of the Week project, which, as you can guess, will be a seven part project. The goal with this project is to explore diversity in lettering and make each piece of the project as different from the last as possible. This week, not to be too predictable, I’ve decided to go chronologically from my starting point. So, here’s Tuesday!

Tuesday

The style is inspired by Blackletter/Gothic calligraphy, but the main defining feature of the piece is that it is an ambigram. Like several of my other pieces, such as Out of my Mind and the word Longer in this piece, this means that it reads the same both ways up! The biggest challenge of the piece was definitely the T/Y combination. The curl of the top of the T certainly lends itself to the loop of the lowercase Y but the rest of it needed quite a bit of work to come up with something that would read well. Fortunately, Blackletter capital T’s often incorporate a half moon shape that curls around the left and underside of the letter. Here, the shape is very understated so as to make the shape of the y neat and stay within the x height of the piece, but it was nice to find a solution that created stronger stylistic consistency.

The lowercase U and A practically solved themselves once I started with the Blackletter style, and the S, of course, falling as it does in the middle of the word was the perfect centre point for an ambigram, it being a rotationally symmetrical letter in the first place. The last puzzle was the E/D combination. With this, again, I felt like I had stumbled across something that seemed almost too convenient due to the Blackletter style. A quick google of Gothic script will show plenty of examples of the lowercase D with a very low, curled form, which simply requires the bottom of the E to cut through the baseline a little way to achieve the right effect.

When creating an ambigram, it is such a restrictive form that it’s almost more like solving a puzzle than creating something. It’s as though you’re looking for something that you’re not sure is there. Trying to see if a rock contains a fossil, and until you spend the time and care chiselling away the outer layers, you can’t say for sure. Sometimes you find nothing, sometimes just some fragments, and sometimes you find a whole dinosaur. A similar comparison is with very restrictive poetic forms. To craft words to a restrictive form and still say what you want to say is a very challenging thing, and as I’m sure proponents of the “Poetry doesn’t translate” movement would hasten to tell you, it’s not only down to the skill of the poet, but also the intricacies of the language that allow the poem to work. In the same way, just as not everything can be expressed through sestinas or haiku, not everything can become an ambigram, as much as you might want it to.

I did go on to make a vector of this piece, mainly because I wanted to make a rotating .gif of the image. Take a look!Tuesday