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:
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:
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!