Every once in a while I pick up a calligraphy tutorial to study historic scripts. David Harris’ The Art of Calligraphy is my favorite. The pens I use for this purpose are Pilot’s Parallels.
Writing calligraphy is a fine exercise in pen mastery. To achieve the necessary differences in line width, you’ve got to twist the pen between your fingers to change the angle of the nib without disrupting the line you are drawing.
This time I chose Roman Uncial. A script from between the second and third century, which became the “corporate typography” of early Christianity.
I filled the pens with Diamine’s “Ancient Copper”, which works fine with writing calligraphy, and concentrated on the old alphabet one letter after the other. As I filled page by page repeating single letters, soon writing whole words and sentences, funny figures started appearing between the letters, and shortly developed a life of their own, which increasingly distracted me from my original task.
You may have noticed my fondness for squids? There is one other species I like very much: dogs. Spanish podenco breeds (Andaluz, Canario, Ibicenco) in particular. To be honest: I love podencos more than squids (sorry, cephalopods!). They are much more trusting, and a lot cuddlier with a body temperature of 38°C, and you don’t need to squeeze yourself into a wetsuit and hold your breath for hours if you want to make their acquaintance.
I don’t know what made me draw hieroglyph-style podencos while practicing calligraphy. Maybe it was the color of the ink, which reminded me of their fur, maybe it was the pen producing just the right lines to draw pointy ears and curly tails.
Hieroglyph-style podencos actually make sense: slim regional sighthound breeds with a straight muzzle, pointy ears and curly tails are widely spread around the Mediterranean, and all look similar to historic pictures of the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh Hound Tesem. Although showing pointy ears and a straight muzzle too, sculptures, engravings and drawings of the Egyptian god of embalming and the afterlife Anubis, actually refer to the African Golden Wolf, but the visual resemblance is there.
So that’s the story of how I didn’t finish my calligraphy exercises, again, but had lots of fun drawing “podiglyphs” instead. Which turned out to be just the right time to have done so, because Iris called shortly afterwards.
Dogs from Mallorca is a public charity based in Cologne, Germany, which operates an own dog pound at Ses Salinas in Mallorca/Spain. They nurture abandoned hunting dogs – podencos primarily –, to place them in foster homes in Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands. In the Cologne suburbs they hold a three hectare large, securely fenced-in dog walking park for podencos and similar breeds to run free and play.
Aside from donations the summer party they host on the field every year is the charity’s main source of income. And Iris, as one of the summer party’s organizers, called to ask if I would like to contribute an illustration, which would be printed on a mug they planned to sell on that special occasion. I loved the idea of a podenco mug instantly and agreed.
So I returned to “podiglyphs” and Parallel Pens once more, and started to elaborate, until I finally had a couple of sketches at hand, which captured the podenco’s most characteristic behaviors.
Thanks to everyone at Dogs from Mallorca for that terrific summer party! Friendly people and cuddly dogs, delicious food, and lots of sunshine. Nothing left to be desired. The mugs were a huge success, too, which makes me happy and very proud I could make a small contribution towards saving some of those beautiful dogs.
I’ve got a series of podenco stories sketched in my notebook already, which will be elaborated on and posted on my blog one by one. The title of the series will be “All you can eat – nibblets of podenco wisdom.”
Please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Ich freue mich über jeden Kommentar und antworte auch auf Deutsch … .
Keep your pencils sharp!