Thursday, July 6, 2017

Resemblances, from text to picture and back

Song of Solomon: timeless love poetry in a contemporary calligraphy.  

The human eye, whenever it sees an unfamiliar line, instinctively searches for a resemblance to something familiar. Here, in Song of Solomon I: 9 - 11, I found a line that has more than one identity.  

In what strikes some readers like an odd compliment, the young man compares his beloved to a horse.  (It made perfect sense to me, as I have always loved horses.)  To celebrate this beauty, I shaped a pen stroke that could evoke both a horse and a woman.  Then I built my design around the poet's metaphors: the gems can decorate both the woman's necklace and the horse's bridle; the Celtic knotwork of the capital O is inspired by the finest gold that "we braid for thee;" and the rich brown ink itself can allude to the mare's coat and the leather of her bridle.  

It was hard to keep the curved line layout from getting curly—I was always straightening it out, trying to make it rigorous and taut rather than wavy and princessy.  It helped if I visualized the arch of a horse's neck, and the stiff curve of its tail.     
In rendering the Song of Songs into calligraphy, I aim to have my designs help the reader understand the text more clearly.  

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