The Design Process with William Morris
- 5 days
We will use the example of William Morris and his huge output of excellent design as a jumping-off point to create our own works. His extraordinary legacy and the general spirit and message of the Arts & Crafts Movement are relevant in our own time, and it will be interesting also to explore the impact the Movement had in the United States and Canada and establish context by using pigments sourced from those places as well.
Starting off, we will do exercises based on the study of local plant material using broad and pointed pens and brushes on backgrounds that evoke the things that Morris loved so much – red brick or earth, real indigo, natural pigments, and humbler metals such as copper and pewter which we will learn to tool using various implements. We will be reacting to what we see, not copying what he did since he didn’t like copying.
We will look at his broad-ranging influences, which include medieval botanical/herbal manuscripts, the Italic hand, the models of Nicolas Jenson to develop letters to accompany our illustrative work.
Morris believed that work shouldn’t be overdone, that they it should retain the freshness of the human touch and the fingerprint of the maker. These exercises will build skill and confidence in designing our calligraphic art – whether broadsides or books – and to artfully manage and interpret our choice of texts/images. Apart from the enormous body of art and calligraphy that Morris produced, he was also a prolific writer. You can use his texts, or bring your own. For our purposes, the texts can be shorter excerpts of longer poems/prose.
- 2 large (22” x 30”) sheets of 90 or 140 lbs. HP watercolour paper. I like Fabriano Artistico over Arches, but please bring what you like to work with. These sheets will be cut into 4 (you can do this ahead of time). Alternately, you can get a pad of HP paper and use this; the size is usually 11” x 14” and that is fine. Winsor & Newton 140 lb paper is also very nice but 90 lbs is adequate.
- Layout paper
- Tracing paper
- Gouache – any you have; I will have plenty to share, but please do have Permanent white
- Any watercolour paints you like to work with; I will also have lots to share
- Favourite inks to write with; I like using gouache, but please do bring what you like
- Standard calligraphy workshop tools: slant board, ruler, T-square, scissors, small cutting mat, pencils, eraser, pen wipe, jar for water, pen holders, a good variety of nibs ranging from small to large (I will also have some to share), low tack tape, paper towels. Please also bring a couple of plastic or china palettes
- Brushes for loading ink on to the pen, mixing brushes, good sable or acrylic round brushes in size 0 and 1 and if you like, 00. A small flat brush – ½” or smaller.
- Ball point burnisher
If you like working with watercolour pencils, please bring some!