In the Land of the Big J

I have a number of Dover clip art books with decorative letters or initials. I’ve used bits of them for redwork embroidery for purses and quilts, and I use snippets of them for drawing. While browsing for inspiration to test out Winsor & Newton Gouache, I came across an exuberant floral initial that I liked from the book Decorative Letters that I bought for 75% off years ago before Dover clip art really took off.


It’s an old black and white engraving and my illustration is in colour but I like the way it turned out. The original length was 7 cm and my larger drawing is about 14.5 cms. This is in my Stillman & Birn Gamma sketchbook which has ivory-coloured paper and is hard to scan, so it’s not quite as clear as it is in person.


It’s a charming blobby flower picture, my favourite! It’s very easy to overwork gouache and make it messy looking but this was good practice.

The background lines were drawn with a Prismacolor Verithin navy blue pencil. This motif would like nice as a cover or first page in a journal. You could use it as a drop cap too on a title page.

Actually, I’ve still got a few blobs of gouache in the palette, so I might draw up a couple of small drop caps and paint them to go with some text.

Why not?






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2 Responses to In the Land of the Big J

  1. mooninfog says:

    Ah! We’re taking a course on sketchbook techniques–all pen and watercolor. Last few weeks have been perspective, which is challenging. This looks like fun.


    • I’ve got a good book on perspective called “Perspective Made Easy” by Ernest R. Norling–one of those Dover publications that’s been in print for years and highly recommended.

      I find perspective confusing. I can just about manage one-point perspective but anything else is hard. I’m glad your course is going well, think of the stuff you’ll now be able to do!

      I am impressed that L. is doing it with you. It would never happen here (googly eyes.)


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