Schreibmeisterbuch is a nice chewy German word that means Writing Master’s Book.
My friend Claudia collects them. These books date from the 1700’s and were used to teach penmanship. Some are printed and some are manuscripts. They are filled with examples of beautiful script,
and playful doodles.
Here is lettering from another of Claudia’s books, from a different part of her library. The delicacy and rhythm of the line contrasts with the solidity and singularity of the rose.
Here the lines become the flight path of insects.
All of these images inspired me to fool around with my own fountain pen again.
With a pen I have to pay attention and let go at the same time. If I am too tight the line has no life or joy. If I am not paying attention the line has no purpose. In every drawing I can see where I erred in both of those directions, but that leads me to draw again.
When I am drawing I think with my hand as well as my mind. A pencil line feels different than an ink line. (For more on that subject please go to this older post: Pencils, Pens and Brushes).
Today I type more than write. But there is joy to be found in real ink.
In his blog The Technium, Kevin Kelly writes that old technologies never die. They continue to exist in some form somewhere on earth.
Drago Juric 1974
The old technologies are often slower but still fulfill their original purpose, often in a more pleasing way than the more modern iterations. Care for a boat ride, a balloon ride or a trip on United Flight 3411? It depends on why you are going.
I like that I can use the new and the old.
I can draw pencils with a fountain pen and scan the drawing, or take pictures from a schreibmeisterbuch with my phone and send them to you. Please raise your monocle and take a closer look at your screen!
Posted in Children's Book Critique Group Blog
Tagged arnold lobel, bianchi poster, bicycles, cyrk, edward gorey, frog and toad, Julie Paschkis, ode to bicycles, Pablo Neruda, polish posters, Saul Steinberg
GPS has changed my life. With the push of a button I no longer get lost and can find the quickest route anywhere.Joe, my husband, dislikes GPS. He doesn’t mind getting lost and isn’t in a hurry. He likes to see what he will see.Lately I’ve been trying to disable the GPS in my work. I’ve painted a series of accordion books that are basically long doodles with no destination in mind. In high school I bought a book of sketches by Maurice Sendak. Sendak played music and doodled and let his mind run free. Sendak said that you take other people’s vegetables and make your own soup. Some of the vegetables that went into my doodle soup are Pennsylvania Dutch fraktur,a visit to the Art Brut show at the NY Folk Art Museum where I sketched,a doodle correspondence with Margaret Chodos-Irvine in London – this is her drawing,a trip to the wonderful Tail of the Yak in Berkeley,Margaret’s toy blog post in December,My hero Saul Steinberg,All of these images and ideas swim around, find their way out of my head, through my hand and onto the paper – surprising and entertaining me.Who knows where they will take me? I just want to enjoy the ride.Laura Kvasnosky sent me this poem several years ago:
Margaret’s post last week made me the think of shadows and reflections. The shadow of the creative leap is the terrifying fall. The reflection of being stubborn is persevering. We struggle to keep the light and dark in balance.
This week I will shadow her post, adding a few light reflections, digressions and pictures.
In her book The Language of the Night Ursula LeGuin wrote an essay about The Shadow, by Hans Christian Andersen. Andersen’s story is about a man who becomes separated from his shadow and then overtaken by it.
Honor Appleton’s 1932 illustration for Andersen’s The Shadow
LeGuin reads the story as an allegory about creativity: creativity comes from acceptance of and cooperation with the dark side of the soul. The shadow is dangerous without the soul, and the soul is weightless and empty without the shadow. The shadow is the guide to the journey of self knowledge and to the collective unconscious.
Edward Gorey is an artist who accessed his dark (and light) side with wit and style. He drew this shadow, and this non-reflecting bicycle.
In this photograph is the shadow a prison or a release from prison?
Suzy Lee made a wonderful wordless picture book called Shadow where the shadows take on a life of their own.
Words as well as pictures can have shadows. The author and critic Gerald Vizenor said that shadows are the silence that inhabit heard stories. Talking about haiku, he said that the dissolved word is replaced with a shadow of the evoked sensation. I end with this haiku by Ichihara Masanao from the Muki Sajiki.
I haven’t been a full time student for more than 30 years. I haven’t been a full time teacher for 20. But September still feels like the beginning of a new year. It’s time for a fresh start; it’s time to go back to school.
Here are some images for your edification, whether or not September brings you back to a school building.
This alphabet come from ABZ, edited by Julian Rothenstein.
But where did B,C and F (and many other letters) go?
Maybe they are dancing.
This Czech Modernist alphabet was designed by Karel Teige in 1935.
Saul Steinberg took the alphabet for a walk in 1965:
What to do with the alphabet? Make words.
These illustrations are from The Infant’s Alphabet of 1822:
Or perhaps you would like to learn French. These pages are from an 1814 primer painted for Alfred Bourdier de Beauregard by his uncle Arnaud.
No education is complete without math and science. Number Friends was published in 1927.
This Edible Frog is from The Art of Instruction, published by Chronicle Books. It is not a scratch and sniff poster and does not include the smell of formaldehyde.
All learning needs to be synthesized. Here are two helpful pictures painted by Saul Steinberg in 1959.
And how to end this post? With proper punctuation, of course. This is from the Good Child’s Book of Stops, published in 1825.
Posted in Arts In Education, Children's Book Critique Group Blog, Children's Books, Children's Books Blog, vintage children's book illustrations
Tagged A Good Child's Book of Stops, Alphabets, An 1814 French Alphabet, Julian Rothenstein, Julie Paschkis, Karel Teige, Number Friends, Saul Steinberg