Paul Laurence Dunbar, son of a slave, penned this tribute to Whittier in honor of the 38 years Whittier’s pen fought slavery. Whittier’s My Soul and I describes a life of humility before God and disposition toward the oppressed. I drew his portrait with that poem. (A use of type or letterform to form an image is called a CALLIGRAM.) The plain monochromatic tones represent the simplicity of his Quaker upbringing.
Risking reproach, I dismantled the 1863 volume of Whittier’s poems, reasoning that the beautiful book would be enjoyed and appreciated under glass by more people than wrapped in a pillow case in my bottom drawer.
John Greenleaf Whittier (December 17, 1807 – September 7, 1892) was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States.
This piece was shown, and sold, in Portland’s 23 Sandy Gallery, July 2012. www.23sandy.com/works/products-page/poetic-pen/dunbar-on-whittier
My fellow calligraphers, many of whom I have met and admired from The Society for Calligraphy, are my inspiration. I see these talented and creative men and women as adventurers of their craft, constantly coming out with beautifully creative answers to the challenge of a white slate. Or black. Or blank. To which my response is often I can do that, or I want to try that.
Challenges are my motivation. (By nature, I’m passively competitive. Only when I’m confident do I show up, or participate, or speak, which grows with age and blurs into habit. I am confident, so I do show up, and participate, and speak up.) A word, or phrase or verse, dares me to illustrate it. Inanimate until calligraphic life is breathed into it! The motivation of many artists is to communicate that which presents itself as a challenge.
Example. Pick a verb. How about to antiquate. The obvious is to use a weathered type or letterform. What pushes the illustration to the yet-undiscovered level? That’s the challenge. That is the motivation.
Today I am 61 years old. That did sound old 40 years ago, even 20 years ago. But not today…
Today, as recently, I feel that I’m just beginning – a novice with my skills, but ready to take on every next white surface with a vengeance. Or to put it more positively, “forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”
By the way, welcome to my blog. Stick with me…