Friday, February 15, 2013

Quick Sketch:Typography

watercolor on Strathmore paper
I've always been fascinated by letterforms and with my recent delve back into German language it seemed appropriate to look at these, the ess-set and umlauts.

Umlauts are those two little dots that appear over vowels to change their pronunciation, and only a, o, and u. The ess-set is a little tricky.

It is used in words spelled with a double S like Gross (large) which then would traditionally be spelled Große. It isn't always used in handwriting and is some times used in print for the two S spelling in modern German. Old High German is different. The ess-set was always used. And when the ess-set got into English via monarchial alliances via marriage it was simplified into a shape best described as an elongated f. And that complicates English for a modern reader who reads print from as recent as the 1700s because we see Wafhington instead of Washington... I don't know who decided to use the adapted ess-set for a single S spelling... but yikes! What a typographical nightmare.

And in German the nightmare just begins! Some German words can have more than two of a letter together. German doesn't contract either words to make a compound. It all gets crammed together. So if you were to take Gross+Stadt to mean "Big City" (because in German it would be a single word rather than two as in English) then it would be spelled "Großstadt".

Can you have four S spellings? I don't know. But I wouldn't want to try to pronounce it!

I love the shape of the ess-set. So I will probably play with it some more. No. I will play with it more. And now I kinda want to find a German scrapbooking supply company that would have a die cut for that.


edited: later that evening in a studio somewhere in Northern Michigan

 *** Checking with Wikipedia BEFORE writing might be helpful.
Turns out the ß is actually the ligature of a long S (the thing that looks like an f) and a single s or z. So apparently the long f-looking s is a special brand of stupidity common throughout Europe that came here and got wiped out with better typography. Thank God.... it is hard enough to read fraktur or black letter fonts on a good day. If we still had to deal with this thing on a regular basis I think I would pull out all my hair. It is beautiful. I love ligatures and dipthongs. But that long S can not hang out in English these days with the volume of text read on a daily basis.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Painting is a slow going process. We have had such dark days lately that I just can't manage to get more than a few minutes at the easel. The sun has been a rather dodgy character lately. It's kind of frustrating. But in the mean time I am absorbing some new music with wonderful imagery that should yield some great results.

In the meantime I do have an artistic conundrum of my own to handle. I believe a website is selling my Italian vase on Blue without my compensation or credit. if you see this around the internet... it is mine and I'd like to know.

This was one of my Gramma's things. It sat on a shelf in the dining room with some object d' arte that were prettier. I kinda hated it when I was a kid. Maybe I mentioned this before. Anyway... after the grandparents were gone it sat on mom's shelves unused, covered in dust and rather loathed. But she would not get rid of it because of her insane belief that everything old is worth money. And I hated it more as a teenager.
But when I got to college and started looking at art processes more closely, having tried a few different kinds of things, then my ideas about it changed. The technical difficulty of getting two items essentially made of mud to stick together is well... let's just say if it doesn't involve a plasma coil and multi phasic transducers Mr. Scott couldn't make it happen. Pottery is a pain in the ass.

And as for watercolor. It was the only thing that I could find in the house with enough character to make learning how to paint fun. Challenging. But fun. So when the last of the parents were gone it was mine. And it is one of the few things left that I would not be willing to get rid of ever. Partly because of Gramma. And almost entirely because this is a damn good painting for a beginner. 2003 or 2004 I want to say. When I dig it out of storage I will let you know.

On a lark I though that I would have it printed for 40.00 only to find out that the coupon was no longer valid. And not only that it was automatically generated in an add. And the add will take you to the site to by this. It doesn't credit me. But you can buy it. Talk about angry.

I've written 3 scathing letters. Apparently I haven't been a big enough bitch.

That will change.

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