A (slightly late) Mother’s Day post

Just before we get started – yes, I made sure that Mom saw this on Mother’s Day. So I am indeed a Good Son, which I know was a great concern of everyone’s.

So here’s this year’s Mother’s Day piece:

Laurie Anderson

This comes from Anderson’s song “O Superman,” which is a rather trippy song, all things considered:

Now there’s a lot to unpack there, and for me it recalls a very specific time period from college. Way too long to explain, but it warms my heart.

The bit that I pulled out for the piece stands out as a rather unconventional message for moms – that at the end of all things, when all else fails, mom is there.

I really like how the versal turned out – I always get nervous doing those without a clear vision of what I want, because I’m convinced something will go wrong. This worked out, though. The blue and white part could have been a little clearer, but again – lack of foresight. It’ll get you every time.

The first mock-up had a versal for each pair of lines, but I scrapped that idea right away. It would have been too bulky and distracting, aside from spelling out “WAA” down the side, a sound my mother hasn’t had to endure from me in quite a long time.

Let’s see, other notes… I picked Quadrata because these lyrics have a kind of litany feel to them, like something that would be chanted in a Mother’s Day ritual. Mind you, probably chanted in front of a great stone monolith of a statue whose eyes would glow red once the chanting was finished, but that’s pure speculation. In the song, this bit is immediately followed by a perky, “Hi, Mom!” but I left that out, as I couldn’t figure out how to make it work.

The three key words – Justice, Force, and Mom – are all colored in their first appearance, but not their second seeing as how they’re “gone”. The color scheme of the versal is meant to echo those colors as well as the colors of the As (which are the color that Love would have been, were it not also “gone”).

I think that’s about it. Mom’s response on Facebook: “Awwww… made me weep!” Which means it worked.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there!

May the Fourth Be With You (2016)

I do so love May the Fourth – Star Wars Day as it’s otherwise known. Up until last year or so, though, I had no real way to participate in that day. Nothing to contribute, really, other than to pass around some cartoons or memes that someone else had put together.

Ah, but then I started on calligraphy and discovered that I do have a way to contribute. Last year I did a bunch of great lines from the movies, and had such fun that I thought I’d do it again. So here, without further wind-up, are this year’s Star Wars Day pieces. Enjoy!

It's variously "I have" and "I've got" throughout the movies. I picked this one. Ink: Waterman Tender Purple Script: Italic
It’s variously “I have” and “I’ve got” throughout the movies. I picked this one.
Ink: Waterman Tender Purple
Script: Italic

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Let’s Go Crazy…

The death of Prince didn’t hit me nearly the way the death of David Bowie did, but there is no denying that Prince was a vast influence on the landscape of modern music. What’s more, he was talented to the point of unbelievability and, as has surfaced in recent interviews, he was a humanitarian who made every effort to help people in need, all while taking no credit for it.

So here’s my tribute piece to the man who should have had much, much more time:

Prince

The scan really doesn’t do credit to the Purple Pizazz from Diamine, but it suits perfectly. This took a few tries to get right, as most things do. I’m happy with how it came out, though, and of all the many, many words the man wrote, I think these were the best choice.

Now. If you don’t mind, I’d like to get through the rest of 2016 without any more legends leaving our midst.

Alas, Poor Yorick…

Over on Reddit a week or so ago, there was a question about how long it would take to write out the entirety of Hamlet in calligraphy. A student wanted to know for an English project, and the general consensus was that it would take much, much too long and would probably not be nearly valuable enough in terms of the grade earned versus the time put in. We managed to talk the student down to a soliloquy-length piece.

Still, it got me thinking – how long would it take? I decided to give it a shot, and this is what the result was:

William Shakespeare - Hamlet

Overall, I think it turned out very nice. The versal is pretty much mine, and the trees come from the Wharncliffe Hours. I know – using a fifteenth-century illumination on lines from a seventeenth-century play? What kind of madness is that? But it fits the mood of the piece, and I like it.

In case you’re wondering, here’s how the stats worked out:

  • Eight lines, 76 words, 311 characters: 38 minutes

That’s about 7 seconds per character, about 30 seconds per word on average. There’s a few short pauses in there, re-dipping the pen, remembering to inhale, that sort of thing, but that’s my data.

Also, it took four tries to get through the whole thing without making a mistake, so I should add about another half hour or so for false starts, setting up a new page, etc. So just for fun, let’s call it a full hour – that feels short, but it’ll do:

  • 11.5 seconds per character, 47 seconds per word.

Let’s aim for somewhere in the middle: about 10 seconds per character (I get about 142,000 characters from the Gutenberg text)

Therefore, it should take me – writing continuously in italic with no breaks – 16.5 days of writing.

If I spend 8 hours a day writing, so that I can eat and do other things besides writing, it would take almost 50 days.

That would be quite the labor of love, to say the least. For now, I’ll stick to my short pieces.

Annual All-Reddit Calligriphication Extravaganza

April Fool’s Day is one of those Love It/Hate It kind of things. When it’s done cleverly, it can be a lot of fun. When it isn’t… Well, it isn’t.

But over on the Calligraphy subreddit (which went full Comic Sans for April 1st, a jarring change), we have a wonderful tradition of exploring around Reddit, finding entertaining comments, and prettying them up in calligraphy. Mind you, many of them won’t make sense without context, but that’s probably even better. So here’s this year’s batch – enjoy!

(Note – there may be some NSFW text in here. Scratch that. There will be.)

Reddit Comments - Autism Spectre
I think this has the makings of a great kids’ show.

 

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Learning a New Script – Book of Kells

I thought it might be fun to walk everyone (crickets) through how I go about learning a new script – specifically a historical one from a specific source. In this case, it was the famous Book of Kells, an Irish manuscript of the four Gospels, currently located in Trinity College Dublin.

Now, one option is to get your tactical black turtleneck on, put your infiltration gear together and break into the College library. I would recommend the west skylights – they haven’t replaced the wiring for the alarms for quite a while and they’re unreliable at best. Rappel down quietly – quietly – and use your mirror array to deflect the lasers surrounding the Kells display. At this point, your diversion should happen – a small dry ice and water explosion set off by one of the neighborhood teens that you paid off in weed and beer, perhaps – which will allow you to break the case and take the book. Remember to carefully replace it with a bag of sand that you brought with you, so as not to set off the weight detectors.

I leave the escape from the building as an exercise for the reader.

Or, if that’s too much trouble, you can go to the Trinity College website, where they have the whole thing digitized in high resolution. If you’re lazy, that is. Here’s the page I eventually ended up working from:

Book of Kells - Page 292v

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This week’s work

Here we are again – I’ve got some free time on my hands and some work that’s been scanned, so let’s see what I’ve been up to this week, shall we? You know you want to.

Marcus Aurelius

I’ve always loved Marcus Aurelius and reread Meditations on a fairly regular basis. The wisdom contained therein is just as useful now as it was back in the day.

This one is one of my favorites, especially in this day and age when opinions are basically a dime a dozen. Just because you have an opinion, that doesn’t mean you need to put it out there. At the same time, if your opinion is something that is vital to you, you need to be sure you can support it and defend it.

I’m pretty sure Marcus Aurelius would be very upset with the way we treat our opinions today.

Lily Tomlin

This comes back to me every time an election season comes around. Just watching the campaigns and the primaries and all the arguing about Bernie or Trump or Hillary just makes me tired.

Neil Gaiman

As always, Neil Gaiman is a great place to go for some inspiration, and The Graveyard Book never disappoints. One of my students actually used this for her final English thesis, so I might see if she wants this one.

Mat Cauthon

This comes from the Wheel of Time series, which I haven’t read since the final book came out a few years ago. Still, this line was always one of my favorites. In the “Old Tongue” of the series, it means, “I am lost in my own mind.” It’s a feeling I’ve identified with plenty of times.

Garrison Keillor

Finally, a good one from Garrison Keillor. At first, it looks like he’s taking a dig at cats, but upon closer reflection, the paradox becomes evident – the purpose of cats is to show that not everything has a purpose. Perhaps it is not the cats that are without purpose, but rather we…

So those are a few things that have kept me busy. Any questions? Put ’em in the comments!