Typographic Painting

Jason Alejandro's picture

Here is my first typographic painting.

-Spraypaint and acrylic on canvas (9" x 12").

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hrant's picture

Tasteful, nice.


Jason Alejandro's picture

Thanks hrant...actually, it's my first painting, ever.

By the way, i'm using your metagram in testing my first type design.

Jason Alejandro's picture

um...you can let me know what you think. Please.

hankzane's picture

I think it's simple and boring.

Dan Weaver's picture

Jason could you try another painting using ink on rice paper. Chinese/Japanese calligraphy is outrageous. You have to balance the speed of the strokes and the dryness/wetness of the brush. Plus you have to lift the brush off the paper after a stroke. Its much more diffucult than acrylics and will teach you much more about how a character is formed.

Jason Alejandro's picture

Dan, thanks for the suggestion. What type of ink would be preferable?

hrant's picture

> will teach you much more about how a character is formed.

How it used to be formed. I like Eastern calligraphy too, but I think Jason
is on a more rarified -hence more interesting- path: typographic painting.
The sort of art a type person would relish/buy.


Jason Alejandro's picture

sergej, is there someway it can become more appealing, maybe even exciting?

matteson's picture

Hi Jason. It's hard to tell exactly what's going on with the surface of your painting, but you might try the following:

Actually paint the white. It looks like a white canvas with a black fleuron. In painting, it's important to spend as much time on the background as the foreground. The edge of the fleuron should be made by an actual edge between the figure and ground, where black paint meets white. Not by black paint on top of white. Franz Klein was great at this sort of thing. This might speak to Hrant's concept of 'notan' even. Or, perhaps, Noordzij's 'front'.

From the photo, it looks like the typography (the what) is winning our over the painting (the how). Seems like there should be more of a balance between the two. This could be due in part to the spray paint, which is rather dead and doesn't make for a very painterly surface.

You might try to mix your black instead of using black out of the tube. Pthalo blue and Alizarin crimson make a nice 'black'. Really it's a deep transparent purple, but you can layer it into a very rich black. Also, Payne's Grey mixed with similarly deep hues can make a decent black. Same goes for white. Don't use Titanium white from the tube -- throw some Ochre into it (just a bit) or it'll always be chalky and cold.

Make it bigger if possible. The gesture of the fleuron will probably be enormously helped by a larger scale.

I hate to tell people to look at this and that painter, but you might be interested in the work of Christopher Wool.


Dan Weaver's picture

Jason if you want to try ink painting using rice paper try Indian Ink (Black)

david h's picture

> try Indian Ink (Black)

....without shellac.

India Inks are composed of carbon black particels for rich, dark color, water and latex or shellac for a binder.

Shellac can ruin your nib/brush — if you don't wash it right away with warm water. But really wash!

hankzane's picture

In a word, no.

That shouldn't stop you, though. You could, for instance, make it an exercise doing a whole series and placing the pictures into frames. What happens if you invert the colours?

Norbert Florendo's picture

I am trying to find online samples of Hermann Zapf's paintings, his series of Magic Squares and quotations of Lao-Tzu and Plato for your viewing pleasure.

Here are several images from The Alphabet As Art exhibit, 2003 at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Tim Girvin's Alphabetica (scroll down to bottom of page then launch link)

Here is Thomas Ingmire's Gallery of art inspired by letterforms.

Guerella's picture

I know this as all photography, so not directly related, but I though I would share anyway.


Joe Pemberton's picture

Are you projecting the form and painting it from a projection or are you drawing the form first? Is it based on a specimen you have from someplace?

I think it could be much more interesting if it weren't a fleuron, but that's just me.

hrant's picture

I was thinking that the ultimate typographic painting would be
of a serif (but not one of those prissy asymmetrical ones please).


Norbert Florendo's picture

> the ultimate typographic painting would be of a serif

Actually, Hrant, that would be more of an ultimate type design painting because it focuses on a particular aspect of a character -- a detail.

For me, a typographic painting would encompass contrast, balance, juxtaposition of minute repetitive elements within the confines of the canvas or page size. IMHO you need not recognize minutia since it is the overall affect that is critical.

hrant's picture

I see your point. Although I'm sure you agree that "minutia" such
as serifs certainly do help determine "overall effect" in a huge way.
I guess they're like ants: one goes unnoticed, but generally they're
present in one place in the thousands and can ruin a Bauhaus picnic! :-)


Norbert Florendo's picture

Yes, I agree with you... to the typographer, minutia is critical to the overall affect. To the average reader it is (or should be) invisible.

That's why we wrestle over not only WHAT face to use, but WHICH vendor's cut suits the purpose best. You know, the micro-infinitesimal differences that typophiles argue over.

Jason Alejandro's picture

I do plan to use letters and parts of letters for my final work(s). The fleuron was really more exploratory since I'm not sure what mediums to use yet and also because I've never painted before. Also, I do intend to make the scale quite larger.

Joe Pemberton's picture

Hey, just have fun with it and show us the results. =)

engelhardt's picture

Adding to Nathan Matteson's suggestion to really make this as much about the painting as the subject, I enthusiastically point you toward one of my favorite artists -- Ed Ruscha.






A simple Google Image search yields good results, also.

Hard to tell on some of these thumbnails, but in person his works are quite engaging in their surface and technique (not all are painted -- some are prints).

Granted, your intent appears to be different than Ruscha's, but it's still an excellent point of reference.

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