Gilt and illuminated calligraphy
23k gold leaf, dry pigments, watercolor, Finetec, and pastel on goatskin vellum
9" x 12"
photo by Reggie Ezell
Text: Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
One of the joys of having a child who is geeky like his mom is getting to share and enjoy again some of my favorite bits of British humor. My son and I now trade bits of these comedies back and forth (or I should say I quote them, and then he corrects me right down to the exact accent and intonation of how they are "supposed" to be said). One of our favorites is the line from Douglas Adam's book and TV series The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, which describes the guide's being popular because, "It has the words Don't Panic inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover."
Of course rather than being a sacred manuscript on vellum, to survive traveling through the galaxy the Hitchhikers Guide is supposedly like a 1970's concept of a Kindle and is regarded by spaceship stowaways as something of a cross between a Bible and a Lonely Planet Guide. My goal was to juxtapose these very different concepts of holding onto the comfort of books in the face of our fears of the unknown.
To me the spontaneity and fluidity of lettering that can be done with a Pentel Brush Pen equals large and friendly, so I used one for the lettering design for the gilding and lettered around this area my favorite passage from the book about humans and our obsession with our lack of happiness. The piece is on a 9" x 12" sheet of goatskin vellum with a quill used on the Carolingian, a snipped EF66 on the vertical lines of text, and a Gillot 303 on the flourishing. The materials were dry pigments (all the text), 23k patent gold ("Don't Panic"), watercolor (around the gilding), pastel dust (the top and bottom bars of muted color), and Finetec gouache (filigree flourishiing over the bars of pastel dust).