Last Winter, I was asked to showcase some of my calligraphy work at my Alma Mater, Otterbein College (now Otterbein University). My first reaction? Oh my goodness, yes! My second reaction? What did I just get myself into? I create a lot of artwork; but it's mostly for others. I don't keep most of it, as it's all on a custom-made basis. But, it's always been a dream of mine to have some of my artwork in a gallery... I just never thought it would actually happen. So, this was an opportunity to not only try my hand at some different methods of creating art; but also, make each piece work cohesively together & flow, as a gallery show should.
What a challenge. How do I create a bunch of calligraphy pieces without making it all look the same? Calligraphy is a beautiful artform, don't get me wrong, but to display 10-15 pieces on a wall of the same artistic medium was something I didn't want to come across as monotonous. So, I challenged myself to use something other than calligraphy ink to bring it all together: things of nature.
Each piece I created came only from nature: I wanted to connect the flow of a calligraphic stroke & letterform with the everflowing nature of...well...nature. From there, the concept snow balled from one connecting concept to the other: 1. calligraphy is a slow-paced artform. You can't rush through it for it to be done successfully. As is nature, she knows no hurry, & everything is done in her time. Thus, the theme, "Nature's Way with Words" was born.
This theme also caused me to stop & realize how fast-paced our world has become. I wanted to push myself to create artwork as one would have many many years ago, & it turned out to be a humbling, & challenging process. So many times I told myself, "just use regular calligraphy ink so you won't have to mix your own from "items" from nature, no one will know!" No. I wanted it to be a genuine, slow-paced process, as nature would expect of me.
To mix my inks, I used soot, shaved charcoal (essentially the same thing, but to help with the thickness so it wouldn't run out of my calligraphy nib, I had to add more substance), & water. I also used soot + charcoal for any pieces with a darker background.
I also used raw, green pigments for the green pieces. I mixed the raw, vibrant pigment dust with water to create the paint-like mixture. When doing this, you NEED to wear a mask & gloves, because it's a very toxic mixture, so these pieces felt somewhat like a science experiement (you'll see the first piece on the far left, & the second "green" piece under the stair on the far right of the collection).
The moss piece was created & formed mixing moss, egg yolk, & water. Moss is a very frustrating thing to piece together, so making it somewhat sticky helped the lettering I wanted to achieve come together (also, spray adhesive may or may not have saved the day on this one).
It was so special to be able to "talk art" with my art professors from college & teachers from elementary school, too. So grateful they stopped by, & will be some moments I will never forget!
I am blessed with a pretty awesome support group: my family. Thank you for sticking around & helping me through this wonderful adventure.
If you're in the Columbus area, the Otterbein University Courtright Memorial Library hours are here, & the Gallery Show is downstairs underneath the "Edward Munch" style staircase (that's what I have always called them). The show will be up until March 31st!