Psalm 139 illuminated calligraphy, start to finish process

This April (April 15-18, 2019) the Transept Artists’ group of the University of St Andrews Institute of Theology, Imagination and the Arts is putting on its annual exhibition entitled ‘Space( )Between’. This exhibit explores in-between places and states of being.

I decided to calligraph a portion of Psalm 139 which describes the infinite space that God’s presence occupies and also mentions hell (Sheol). It encompasses the upmost heights and the deepest lows.

First I ruled the lines and toned the paper with a light tan shade. Next I wrote out the script. The script I chose was Uncial, characteristic of the British Isles between the 3rd and 9th centuries. I made a mistake with the first line but couldn’t erase so I’ll cover this up later with white.

Next I erased the pencil ruled lines from the text and went over the lines of the initial capital W with a Pigma Micron archival, non-smudging pigment pen.

I continued to first sketch with pencil, then trace over in pen all the elements of the border.

© Letizia Morley 2019

Then I added colour using Winsor & Newton watercolours. I wanted to give each ‘direction’ in the Psalm its own colour variation. The top is light blue to represent heaven, the bottom is a murky black-blue to represent Sheol. The left is the rosy-tinted East and the right is the slightly more orange-toned red. The ‘flame’ pattern at the bottom also hints at Sheol.

© Letizia Morley 2019

© Letizia Morley 2019

Next I added acrylic gold ink to the vines, the celtic knot border and finally to the illuminated capital letter W.

© Letizia Morley 2019

© Letizia Morley 2019

After many many hours of work, here is the final result. The first image is the final work before framing and the second is the framed work at the ‘Space( )Between’ exhibit in St Leonards Chapel on South Street, St Andrews.

© Letizia Morley 2019

© Letizia Morley 2019

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