I’m back from my travels and I have so many inspiring creative things to chat about but I need to catch up a bit while I sort my photos and my thoughts. So let’s get back to where I left off. I gave the ‘Adolf Bernd workshop’ in North London two weeks ago – and then did not manage to write it up! Anyway, here are a few samples and the approach.
All these letters have been painted using just two opposing colours. The N’s are by Alison and the left G is my demo – using the Burnt Sienna and Ultramarine as per the swatches above, and the beginnings on the next G is by Christine. I could not use many of the photos of the designs from the workshop because the light wasn’t good and most of the photos have a yellowish tinge. so, apologies lovely NLLA group!
When you become accustomed to the particular shade of neutral orangey grey or blueish grey, you begin to recognise which complementary colours were used, and you need to experiment further to establish what sort of orange or blue. Compare the neutrals above to the ones below which were made using red and green…
I’ll come back to this one later in my colour chats.
So we looked at colour, but also analysed Bernd’s design. Art Deco based letterforms are really useful to explore in this sort of design, because they have already been stylised and exaggerated and lend themselves to pattern. Googled ‘Art Deco letters’ and download samples. Even though they are generally low-resolution, you can study the letter forms.
Bernd’s letters have backgrounds that have been divided geometrically in relation to the letter and usually have added pattern. There is often pattern on the strokes of the letters as well. By studying Bernd’s letters, you’ll see how frequently he aligns his horizontal or vertical bands. You will also see how he sometimes has a shaped edge rather than a plain rectangle behind the letters. Observe the tiny details. We studied and analysed his approach to the background design to inform our own much simpler designs. Above all remember that Bernd’s designs were 40cm X 60cm! We did tiny simple letters 3cm X 5cm!
Lastly, the big question asked is: “Did he or did he not use masking fluid?” His wife was adamant that he did not. I was less convinced and tried some designs similar in concept and I have to agree and say “NO, de didn’t!”
I tried using masking fluid on the woman’s hair in the Rope of words illustration and even though it is really good making fluid (blue Pebeo Drawing gum) it was still a bit blobby and difficult to keep even. In the end, I re-drew the whole image and painted it without masking fluid.
What I do in letter design, is draw the letter and the background. Then I paint the most important shape, painting right up to the pencil line. In the adjacent shape, I maintain a narrow white line between the two shapes. This is easier than trying to paint on either side of a pencil line, leaving the middle bit with the pencil line showing and distracting your judgement of the width of the white in between spaces. I even painted the intricate plaits this way, without using masking fluid.
There are still occasions when I would definitely use masking fluid e.g. in the centre of the thistle below, so that I could work loosely over it in a water-colourish way; but for flat decorative areas separated by white lines, it is easier to manage freehand.
But when you need masking Fluid the Pebeo is fab. and it works well in a dip-pen. I have even used it with a reservoir.
(b.t.w. The Slice of Lime gift shop will be open in a week or two – at last – and you can order a giclee or greeting card of the thistle.)