Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Abecedary to color: F

Click here for a full-page, 
high-resolution printable. 

Last week we talked about how the colors you choose can suggest a specific place; we aren’t done with that idea and will come back to it again and again.   
But color is not just about where, it’s also about when.  Some color combinations have become strongly identified with certain decades or centuries.  You can play around with them.  

The last F on this page comes from Art Nouveau, which dominated the 30 years that peaked in the 1890’s, which was actually known as the “Mauve Decade.”* Around the turn of the century, the most popular colors were lilac, ochre, olive, brown, dark red, and of course, mauve. 
I've colored this sample F in a mix of these desaturated, languid, and slightly off colors.    

* A few years later, historian Lewis Mumford coined the nickname “The Brown Decades” to describe the 30 years leading up to the Mauve Decade, from the end of the Civil War to mid 1890.  

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Abecedary to color: E

Click here for a full-page, 
high-resolution printable. 
These E s are older than 300 years.  The six letters here show the different forms of E, as well as the many kinds of decorative vinery that the illuminator can choose from.   

The last E on the page is derived from one of the earliest books printed in South America. I included it because I studied with the researcher, Antonio Rodriquez-Buckingham, when I spent some years at school learning about rare books.  (Here’s what I learned; there is no end to what you need to know about rare books.)  
    I included this E to remind you to read the notes I’ve provided on where I found the letters.  They can point you toward color ideas. 
    But I also want to remind you that Europe and England are not the only sources for beautiful old letters, nor does North America have a monopoly.  Letter designs in the New World come from all the Americas.  Anglo-Americans should remind themselves that the founding of San Marcos University in Lima predates Harvard by 85 years; a printing press was established in Lima 54 years before the one in Massachusetts. 

    To reinforce the Peruvian 
connection, you can borrow from the distinctive blue, turquoise, and golden- yellow color scheme of the distinctive ceramic tiles.  (Though they originated in Spain, and then were brought to Lima, they are now more generally found with an online search for “Mexican tiles.”)    

Friday, September 7, 2018

Abecedary coloring tips: D

Warm! ☀︎
Print your page out on paper that adds a background color of its own.  For a striking effect, combine orange, pink, and yellow on pale yellow.  Or, if that feels too hot in late summer's muggy weather, create a cooler effect with deep blue and fuchsia on lilac paper. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Abecedary to color: D

Click here for a full-page, 
high-resolution printable. 
The letter D is shown on this page in a wide variety of its forms, from sources as old as medieval manuscripts and as new as Ben Shahn's 1930s posters.   

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Abecedary Coloring Tips: C

Create your background with a wash
of blue watercolor, or find a free image
online to print out. (It’s courteous to
check the copyright status of any
image you use and cite your source
whenever it is requested).

You can print out the full page
of six versions of the letter C
You can reinforce your letter’s decorative motif with a background of color and texture.  Here, at right, a wash of pale blue adds the illusion of depth to the fishes who form the letter C. 

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Abecedary to color: C

Click here to print out the full-size page.
Here is a page of the letter C. These are complicated!  You can use a lot of different colors, preferably with small points for detail.   

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Abecedary Coloring Tips: B

Letters that already have some black areas filled in will make it much easier for you to color the remaining white areas neatly. If you choose bright colors and transparent media, the contrast can be striking. Feel free to add the "color"* black to any letter, wherever you think it will make some drama.
To print out your page of B designs to color in, click here .

*Actually, black is the absence of light.