Recently I learned that the mother of a friend had been diagnosed with cancer and was beginning treatment. For privacy's sake we'll call her "Valerie". Now Valerie's best friend writes a blog, and in one post she shared her reaction to watching Valerie fight through the medical hell of chemo and radiation and all their unpleasant side effects. She quoted some verses from Lamentations chapter 3 as encouragement to her friend. The blog post was shared on social media by my friend, where I saw it and thought it might be nice to letter the Bible verses as a small gift to Valerie.
This is the behind-the-scenes for that project, which I hope is a blessing and encouragement to my friend's mama.
My first step was to decide on a layout for the verses. I thought that I wanted it generally centered, but in a more flowing than precise way. At the same time I toyed with ideas of how to embellish the words, with borders, flowers, maybe climbing vines. I sketched out a rough plan, double checking the reference, punctuation, thees and thous, et cetera.
Once I had a loose concept for the piece, I tried writing it out. My first go was kind of yucky: I didn't like several of the flourishes or ways I'd connected various letters/words, and I felt it was haphazard at best. So I decided this would be my sample draft -circling all the things I didn't like so as not to repeat them- and it was on this paper that I also tried out a watercolor wash idea I had. (The subsequent smudges and brown smears settled my uncertainty as to if I needed to do a watercolor wash before or could do it after writing! Now we all know!)
I had been praying as I prepared that the Lord would guide me to make something that Valerie would actually like and want to display in her home! Never having met her, I had no idea her tastes and style, but God did. So I left it up to Him to flow through my creativity.
My friend had told me that her mom liked purple and red. I had a few good purple options to work with, but none of my reds were reliable so I opted for the former. I applied the watercolor wash by taking a brush wet with clean water and washing out most of the paper. [I used watercolor paper because it's heavier and thicker and doesn't absorb or buckle under moisture like regular papers do.] Then I added color to the bottom of the paper and blended it upwards, concentrating the heaviest color at the base and letting it lighten to white as it moved up the page. I'd done this several times before for place cards, but never on a larger piece.
After the watercolor wash had a few hours to dry, I lettered the verses. I used a Copperplate script at 1/4" x height with random flourishes, played around with a new style of capitals that I liked, and basically tried to make it elegant and legible.
When all the lettering was finished, I saw every flaw (as usual!) but liked the effect...
...although it seemed unfinished somehow, and I knew I wanted an element other than lettering. I thought some more and decided to go with my original ideas of flowers, but instead to concentrate them at the bottom with the darkest purple rather than having them climb up the sides of the page. (This decision was aided by the fact that the only colored paints I had at the time were Finetec (Coliro) mica paints, which are gorgeous, but they don't show up well on light colored papers.) I took my wedge brush from John Neal Booksellers and painted lightly-colored but highly metallic blossoms and petals, like a spray of glistening confetti.
I've learned that sometimes I tend to gild the lily on creative projects, until I'm grumbling at the junction of "Went A Bit Too Far Avenue" & "Just Past Happy Street". Therefore I often have to restrain myself before going overboard with embellishments and decorations. Here, I think that if I'd done more it would be been a jumbled distraction and detraction from the Scriptures above.
Below are the final pictures I took before passing the piece along to Valerie's daughter. I hope Valerie gains comfort from the words and a smile from the presentation. She is much loved.
Go in peace and be a blessing!