The Great Color Test 2015

I occasionally have ideas for projects that feel like they would best be done in color, but apart from a couple of forays into random black paper, I didn’t really know where to go with this. So I asked our Dear Friends over on /r/calligraphy on Reddit about their thoughts. As expected, they had experience in this and pointed me in the direction of Canson Mi-Teintes colored paper.

Now, I’m fairly used to things simply not being available here in Japan, and was wondering if I should try and find a place online to order it, when I found that my local stationery store had a whole bunch of it. So I grabbed a few colors, brought them home and went to work!

2015-05-30 21.49.46

I then mixed up a bunch of gouaches and applied them in the following order, for the sake of convenience:

  • Holbein Permanent White
  • Holbein Permanent Yellow
  • Holbein Flame Red
  • Holbein Burnt Umber
  • Holbein Emerald Green
  • Holbein Pure Blue
  • Holbein Pure Blue (lightened)
  • Windsor & Newton Brilliant Purple
  • Holbein Brilliant Silver
  • Holbein Pearl Gold
  • Holbein Ivory Black
  • Sumi ink
  • Pilot Document Ink

It took the better part of the afternoon, and most of the results weren’t too surprising if you had a basic understanding of color theory. But theory and practice are two different things, and it’s important to know how your media work together.

By far, my favorite combination was probably the indigo paper and the gold gouache:

2015-05-31 08.54.15

It looks nicer in person. As does the gold-on-green:

2015-05-31 08.54.50

Red-on-yellow works well, too.

2015-05-31 08.55.15

This color test was basically a way to tune into what combinations look good and what should be avoided. Burnt Umber on pretty much anything, for example, should be avoided. The full album on Imgur is here, if you want to see everything.

I’ll probably head back to the store and buy more colors at some point in the near future, and do my best to consider which calligraphy ideas might work well on colored paper. In the meantime, if you have the supplies to hand and an afternoon free, why not do your own color survey?

Spring has finally arrived

Quotation - Henry Rollins 01
Coming from Rollins, though, it sounds dangerous.

I did this for our Reddit Spring/Easter contest. As of this writing, the contest is still undecided, so I guess I can cross my fingers. There’s some good competition, though…

EDIT: I won!

The effect here was done with gouache, a medium I’m slowly getting the hang of, and it was done by carefully, meticulously… tediously going from color to color within each letter. I mixed the gouaches a little more watery than usual so as to encourage blending, and then just tried to be as quick as I could. I think it worked nicely. I used the same techniques for these two as well:

Quotation - Pablo Neruda 02
You can never go wrong with Pablo Neruda
In case you’ve forgotten what this is all about.

Finally, in further celebration of the season, I went out to Osaka Castle to see cherry blossoms and did a little calligraphy en plein air. I wanted a quotation with some kind of flower reference, and I had this one hanging around.

Instagram - Mark Twain 03

The script, in case you were wondering (and I know you were) is a variation of Uncial as found in the Vespasian Psalter (8th century-ish). It’s a difficult script, and I still have a lot of practice to do, but I like how this turned out.

So enjoy your spring, everyone – here’s to new beginnings and hope trees full of blossoms.