Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Abecedary to color: J

Click here to print out a full page at high res.
Color in calligraphy can strongly suggest national identity. In America-- and especially in Boston where I live--we are so conditioned by St Patrick’s Day, the Boston Celtics, good luck charms, and the myths about leprechauns, that any letter with a little knotwork implies Celtic origins. When you write in Celtic style, you have to be careful; and once you add green, you’ve basically suggested that March 17 is right around the corner. 

To heighten its Irish flavor, I’ve printed this letter onto faux parchment paper to suggest the yellowed parchment of the Book of Kells. (Even though the original scribes strove for pages of the purest white.) 

If you want to get picky, green paint was not common in the past: some pigments were expensive; they reacted in unpredictable ways when mixing with or touching other pigments; and they were not light resistant. There are, however, many blue-greens and yellow greens in the historical examples here and on my Pinterest board “An Abecedary to Color.” Over the centuries, green pigments improved and spread, until today our choices range from Olive to Pine to Lime to Emerald.

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