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!

Some Star Wars and Others

Yes, I saw the new Star Wars movie and it was AWESOME. I certainly won’t spoil it, though – this blog is for calligraphy, not spoilers.

As a way of getting myself psyched up, though, I did some Star Wars quotes for practice.

Quotation - Star Wars - C3PO

Good old C-3PO. Always with the right outlook on life.

Quotation - Star Wars - Emperor

This is such a great line. Never do we hear the word “Jedi” spoken with such venom. As scripts go, I think an excessively flourished Fraktur is ideal for the Emperor.

Quotation - Star Wars - Obi-Wan

This took a couple of tries – I did it once and then had to cut that up so I could get the centering right. Getting things properly centered is an interesting challenge in calligraphy. If you’re determined to do it, then you should be ready to do a couple of drafts.

Quotation - Star Wars

This is the only line from the new movie that I did. Well, that and “I have a bad feeling about this,” but it didn’t really come out the way I wanted. Damn Romans.

There were a few other long-form pieces that I did this week as well:

A request from Mom.
A request from Mom. She’ll get the original, of course.


As a teacher, I wish I had an office to hang this in.
As a teacher, I wish I had an office to hang this in.


Such a perfect joke.
Such a perfect joke.


If only the attribution looked as good as the quote. Damn.
If only the attribution looked as good as the quote. Damn.


A good time was had by all, I’m sure. One of the nice things about having a break – and having played through most of Fallout 4 – is that I can do more of these.

Ten Days of Firefly

I can always use a good project to do, and so I set myself the task of doing ten days of quotes from Firefly. It was good fun, and a little more challenging than I expected. Some characters – Mal, Jayne, Wash – have lots of great one-liners. Others, like Inara and Zoe, are pretty much the straight men and set up others’s great lines. River, Simon, and Book generally require more context.

It was good fun, though, and I got some good ones done. Take a look!

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Still working on those Romans

I’ve been playing with gouaches and colors this week, and the quotes I’ve chosen to do seem to call out for the use of Roman Capitals. Because, clearly, I need to punish myself for my sins.

The thing about Romans is that there are fairly strict proportional rules to the letterforms and the spacing between letters, and they can be tough to master. Only through repeated practice and analysis can you get them right, and that can take quite a while. So I may as well enjoy it while I can.

Lyrics - Garbage

This is from the Garbage song “Push it,” and while I do think these are the nicest Romans I’ve done in a while, the N is off-model. There shouldn’t be serifs on the pointy bits, which goes for pretty much any other letter with pointy bits on.

Quotation - KFM 01


This line comes from Kentucky Fried Movie, a wonderful film that is far funnier than you expect. I love this line, and Romans seemed to be the way to go. Centering aside, it’s not bad. The real problem with it, though, is that it’s wobbly. Look at ELEVEN – the vertical lines are all over the place there, and that’s true throughout. The differences in the three appearances of A suggest that I need to spend more time practicing instead of working on whole pieces. That said…

Quotation - KFM 02


This is another one of my favorite lines – out of many – from Kentucky Fried Movie. I did this first in walnut on white, but I thought I could make it look better with gouache. Now, a few things happened here. For one, I discovered that gouache doesn’t always behave the way you want it to, which is most evident in the Copperplate. I had to think out the white quite a bit before my pen would write with it.

As for the Romans, the same issues are in play – proportions, balance, and straight lines all need work. The two Ws definitely could be a lot more even. In addition, if I’m going to do serifs, they should look more intentional, rather than the result of a strong jolt from a car battery while holding the pen.

Quotation - Fallout

I did this after Fallout 4 was announced. The gold on red is gorgeous, and some aspects of this look better. The shading was done with a 2B pencil, and that makes the letters stand out, but still… I thought about wiping out the guidelines in PhotoShop, but wanted to keep them there to remind myself of why they’re there. Look at the C – it doesn’t come close to the upper guideline.

So yeah, Romans are a challenge, but they’re useful. More time and more practice, and eventually I’ll have them to a level where I don’t flinch as soon as I look at them.