Recently I was lucky to be given a commission to illustrate a Walter de la Mare poem, ‘Silver’.  After some thought I wanted to produce a piece along fairly traditional lines, calligraphy surrounded by an illustrated border.  The poem naturally suggests something very decorative and using silver ink to enhance this seemed like an obvious choice!

It look me a little while to get back into calligraphy (as seen in an earlier post!) but it was a great challenge, reacquainting myself with line spacing, pen strokes and fonts.  And it has made me want to do more, especially as I have such wonderful materials and texts from my great aunt’s collection.  Also I barely scraped the surface as it such a complex discipline, and like many things, if it is all working correctly should look much more effortless than I can probably make it appear!

Here’s my initial roughs, which aren’t so far off the finished piece:

Notebook rough
Notebook rough
Rough idea using silver pencil
Rough idea using silver pencil

Having found some lovely W&N silver calligraphy ink in the LGC I got to work with practising a traditional italic font, and planning out the line spacing and margins.

Here’s my plan!  As you can see I really tried to ensure the flourished letters had some rhythm and didn’t interfere with other characters on surrounding lines.  I went with a standard margin layout, but which allowed plenty of room for the surrounding illustration:

Layout planning
Layout planning

Following this and some more tests with the pen and brush, I just got stuck in!  This is the finished piece – I tried using a pen for the illustration but it felt too tight – I always love using a brush with ink, and watered down the ink at times.  I started by giving it some depth with black ink, using the blue paper as a mid-tone and finishing with the silver.   As often with these things the brushwork was fairly quick (as my other half exclaimed when he turned round to find it finished!) but I think it maintains some fluidity and a lighter touch.

Any comments most welcome!

Finished piece - pen and ink
Finished piece – pen and ink


3 Responses

  1. Hi Becky

    I’ve been looking at your blog and the Walter de la Mare poem is wonderful, I just wish Mum was able to see and appreciate your work. I certainly appreciate your tribute to her and thank you for her lovely birthday card.

    It would be great to hear from you, you now have my email address.

  2. So lovely! I memorized this poem as a child and the imagery has always stayed with me. Today I wanted to share it with my five year old son, and when the first page I clicked in my search brought up a site with a wallpaper of magenta moon clipart, I felt a Google Image search was in order. Your work showed up near the top and immediately drew my eye. You’ve captured the stillness, grace and peace that embody the work, imo. I’m so grateful to have found it!

    For some time now I have had an idea in mind for artwork to accompany the lyrics off my two favorite lullabies, so I am off to the rest of your blog to see if you are still taking commissions!

    1. Hi LeeAnn!

      Thank you so much for your lovely comment, it was most unexpected and a real delight to read – I truly appreciate you taking the time to let me know. I’m so glad you liked that piece, as you might have seen it was for a commission, a favourite poem of the recipient too.

      I’m most definitely open to commissions (no pressure of course!) Please do feel free to email me directly if you would like to discuss anything, I’m at

      Thanks again, and very best wishes

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