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What's The Life Of A Man?

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

What sort of gift do you give to someone recently bereaved? Well, it does depend how well you know them, but after hugs, poetry & songs are high on the list. It takes some thought to know or to find those words that are meaningful to a particular person and I think that it is that thought rather than the means of presentation that can be so much appreciated. Obviously presentation is a part of it, and I can help with that bit, but the sentiment... the feeling... the love, that is behind a gift such as this that really makes it special.

R chose words from a version of a traditional folk song that was both meaningful & a favourite. She had an idea of greens, some leaves and a bit of copper & was happy for me to decide what would look best. 

What's the Life of a Man?

As I was a walking one morning at ease
A viewing the leaves as they fell from the trees
All in slow motion appearing to be
And those that had withered, they fell from the trees

What's the life of a man anymore than the leaves
A man has his season, so why should we grieve
Though all thru this life, we appear fine and gay
Like the leaves we will wither and soon fade away

If you'd seen the leaves just a few days ago
So beautiful and bright they all seemed to grow
A frost came upon them and withered them all
A storm came upon them and down they did fall

If you look in the churchyard, there you will see
Those that have passed like the leaves from the trees
When age and affliction upon us do fall
Like the leaves we must wither and down we must fall

After a few false starts, I eventually decided on muted shades of green watercolour for the calligraphy... various tones reflecting the changing hues we see in nature... with embossed leaves falling down one side & settling across the bottom. One sycamore leaf was covered with copper... almost like a full stop, marking the end of one man's life here on earth.

this piece is available here

I tried another layout too... this time with leaves mainly across the bottom & a few at either side... in this version, 2 of the leaves are enhanced with copper. To me this represents two people... it could be two people who have passed on, or the link between two people, one living, one gone...

The technique I used for the leaves is called 'dry embossing'. Outlines of several different leaf types were drawn on card & cut out with a scalpel... I then used an embossing tool, pressing the paper through from the back of the calligraphy into the cut out shapes. When the paper is turned back over, the leaves are raised, forming a lovely subtle pattern. I love the textures that arose on both pieces...

Embossing is so subtle... minimal... white leaves embossed into white paper.... that seem to shift slightly throughout the day as light plays across the surface.... like i said, subtle.... the translucent tones of the watercolour change almost imperceptibly throughout the lettering.... and the copper leaves catch the light differently as well, so this becomes a living, subtly changing piece of work....


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