For a change of pace, I thought it might be interesting to introduce you to some of my other work, which is calligraphy, specifically my “Modern Medievals.” This is the final piece that originated on the page in the previous post. I’ve been studying illuminated letters for years, and one of my favorite pastimes is to find myself in a rare book room with a living (not reproduced) medieval manuscript – Bible, Psaltery, Book of Hours … – and to begin copying some of the letters I find on the pages. What you see here is, truly, not that far from the place where letters began. I have seen remarkable combinations of letters that, well, fry my brain, and I can now spend hours entwining letters to great delight.
Working with a familiar text such as Lewis Carroll’s ‘Jabberwocky’ allows for a reader to follow my letters, theoretically, making it a bit of a puzzle that can be interesting to disentangle.
As well, it is in the calligraphy that my own drawing began. I used to believe I couldn’t draw. (Sound familiar?) During my first class in medieval lettering with Mark Van Stone (a master!) I remember the day he instructed us to “now draw our self-portrait inside the white vine letter we had just created.” I slapped my pen down hard and declared, “I can’t draw!” He looked at me, kindly, and said, “Christi, can you make an A?” “Yeah …” I hedged. “Well, then, you are drawing.” It broke the dam. I stopped the belief, and now, hey, I can draw!