In more ways than one.
Perhaps you’ve had this same experience as a child?
Every year in St Andrews, Scotland there is a street market and carnival called the Lammas Fair. It is the oldest continually running street fair in Scotland, with origins in the early medieval times, when it celebrated the harvest. This year I saw a game booth that only had husky stuffed animals for prizes. My 6 year-old son played one round (at an exorbitant cost of course) and actually won a husky, so there is good in the world after all. And there happened to be a real Siberian Husky on the street as well. So here you go:
A friend recently commissioned a calligraphy piece for her baby’s nursery room. She asked for A.A. Milne’s Daffodowndilly poem with a watercolour illustration next to it of daffodils, variegated tulips and trillium. I used the Garlic Butter typeface as the basis for this hand-lettered script. I am not often completely happy with my work but this piece came out much to my satisfaction.
A recent digital painting of pink, white and yellow tulips. I get so much joy each year when the tulips emerge.
Continuing on from the Stage 1 post for this piece, I show you now what the border drawing looked like when all filled in. In the two subsequent photos you’ll see the colour being gradually added, 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.
My newest digital calligraphy work of Psalm 27 verse 1. One of my favorite verses to say to myself in times of doubt or fear. The script is Artificial Uncial.
It takes me a long long time to practise scripts where I feel comfortable doing a finished project. Here I was working on my gothic textura quadrata font, which was popular in the 1400s and 1500s. It has a gently hypnotic effect with its forest of tall, narrow, rectangular letters so close together. The text is from an old Shaker song of 1848 from America’s New England area. Shakers, similar to the Quakers, were a small religious group that began in the 18th century in England and migrated to the New World. They were known for having simple lifestyles so this song expresses that sentiment. I can’t say the textura quadrata font actually matches the song’s message, but I just picked a text at random.
Finished product of a work-in-progress that I posted a few weeks back. I spent probably WAY too long on the details of the border but think the work paid off. This quote by Socrates is nice to think of as one navigates the relationships of life. Painted digitally in Procreate app designed for iPad Pro.
Lately I have been trying to make some more Scottish themed illuminated calligraphy and decided to write out this Celtic blessing in the Artificial Uncial script. The Celtic knots here are identical, but are rotated in different directions for a nice contrast. It took a long time but I am happy with the result.
Here’s the text, which I think is wonderful: “May you have: walls for the wind, a roof for the rain, and drinks by the fire; laughter to cheer you, those you love near you and all that your heart may desire.”
Enjoy and I hope you have some laughter and warmth today.
This is the St Andrews Castle and Castle Sands on a tranquil late autumn day. The castle must have been pretty nice in its day but now is sadly badly ruined. There is a siege mine underneath that has a cool history.
The story is that in 1546, the cruel Cardinal David Beaton, whose residence was the castle, burnt the Protestant preacher George Wishart at the stake out in front of the castle. This very public execution was a spark to intensify the wars of the Reformation in Scotland.
The Protestant friends of Wishart (including several lairds of the area), snuck inside the castle dressed as masons since there was construction going on at the time there. The Cardinal was stabbed and his naked body hung from a high tower window facing the front of the street. These Protestants began to occupy the castle and then were attacked by supporters of the Cardinal, primarily the Regent, the Earl of Arran.
The famous Protestant preacher John Knox, who was primarily responsible for the Scottish Reformation, was smuggled into the castle to be the minister for the defenders. The besiegers could not breach the walls after a long struggle and so began to dig a tunnel under the gatehouse to get in from below. When that was discovered, the defenders began to dig a counter-mine to meet it. Both mines were cut through solid rock. The defenders tried three times to reach directly to the mine since they were guided only by the sound of the pickaxes. Finally the fight was joined as the tunnels met yet the defenders were able to keep the invaders out. It took a French force to bombard the castle with powerful canons for the castle to surrender. The defenders were either imprisoned in France or sent to the galleys, as John Knox was.
The tunnels were only rediscovered in 1879 and you can go there today, and as I did last year, to creep down the clammy, cramped tunnels and imagine the hard labour it took to carve them. The attackers’ side is smooth, decently large (for a hand carved tunnel) and the defenders’ side is very narrow and jagged. Rank moss grows inside the tunnel and there is a constant drip of water from the walls. Not for those who are claustrophobic! You can see in the paving stones in front of the castle the initials of George Wishart made of cobble stones.