Comfort Ye My People…

by Alden Cole on March 15, 2014 · 0 comments

chancery italic calligraphy on vellum paper, 15″ x 12″ • collection of the artist $

ComfortYeWPSpring 1963. Sabbath thoughts from Isaiah 40: 1-5 and 9. In addition to nine hours of Life Drawing each week as part of RISD’s Freshman Foundation, I was challenged by several other required studio courses, usually scheduled in 3-hour increments: 2-D Design, 3-D Design; Nature Drawing, Perspective Drawing, and Calligraphy — each a single 3-hour-class per week. Interspersed among the studio classes were 1-hour liberal art requirements such as Art History and English. History of Art 101 — despite the fact that the professor was incredibly boring, virtually reading his lectures from notes to all two-hundred-plus of us freshmen in Memorial Hall, the only classroom big enough to hold us all at one time – nevertheless gave me a life-long love of the great tradition of art-making of which I am part.
Calligraphy, aka Lettering, was one of my favorite classes. As early as high school I had experimented on my own with wide-nibbed pens to render loose personalized versions of black-letter on my notebooks, plus term-paper title-pages, so I took to my calligraphy classes with elan. One of the highlights of accomplishment in that class was the piece To Live Content with Small Means… which I featured in an earlier posting January 5, 2014. Freshman final for class was lettering and binding a book: as text I chose The Song of Solomon, King James version, all eight chapters, which I painstakingly black-lettered as running text onto numerous sheets of paper, single-sided, then binding those folios into a suede-leather-bound volume, plus making a slip-cover for the book measuring approximately 11″ x 14″ x 1.5″. It really was quite a production. Where is that treasure now? I gifted a long-lost-lover with the sensuous classic years ago but have lost track of both lover and book with the passing of time and the river. C’est la vie.

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