Rebecca Wild is an artist and calligrapher from Port Townsend, Washington. Her work pairs a love of letter forms with the luminous qualities of drawing materials and paint. She was a calligraphy and art instructor in Portland, Oregon for 25 years and now teaches workshops for art centers and guilds throughout the West Coast. Rebecca is an enthusiastic and organized instructor whose emphasis on process and technique is infused with creativity and encouragement. She strives to help beginners feel successful and to give established artists fresh ideas. Her goal is to make the making of art accessible to everyone.
Every summer for many years I’ve taught at Sitka Center. I’ve also had the pleasure of being a student there and I’ve found no better place to teach or to learn. Sitka’s mission to expand the relationships between art, nature and humanity has profoundly influenced my creative life and vision. In short, I am a Sitka evangelist.
In 2013, I moved from Portland to the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. When you live someplace as beautiful as this, there is no shortage of inspiration. The textures, the sun-bleached minutia from the beach, the Madrone, the lichen, and the interplay of water and light are all fodder for my creativity.
I recently collaborated on a show entitled ‘Sea Rites’ with a former Sitka employee, Rebecca Welti (rebeccawelti.com). Rebecca Welti is a wood sculptor who utilizes art and marine science to reveal the fascinating nature of plankton (Image at the top is a photo of this show). The intent of our show was to celebrate the sea from the perspectives of art, science, prose and poetry. Some of the work below grew out of that collaboration.
Because I am a calligrapher, I see text and letterforms everywhere. I see writing when the wind blows across the water, in clouds, in the patterns of aquatic architecture, in the bull kelp that I find lying on the beach. I can’t read it.It is a secret language that I don’t understand but I am moved by it.
My concept for this series was to take the idea of text being everywhere and create marine environments where line, imagery and contrast are woven with a language I do understand. The word text comes from the Latin textere, which means, “to weave”.
In order to find the words that I wove into these paintings, I put out a call to poets and writers that I know and searched for works that express the voice and life-giving force of the sea. I settled on 10 different writings by 6 different authors and poets; Anne Morrow Lindberg, Annie Dillard, Kate Reavey, RachelCarson, Ursula K Le Guin and Emily Wall.
I begin with apiece of primed and sanded wood.
I write the text in pencils and acrylic paint using calligraphy tools. I use a loose rhythmical style of handwriting. I like to think about the process the author went through as they put ideas to paper; changing their mind, rearranging, honing. I find that as I write the words over and over, they become a meditation that takes me deeper.
The next step is to seal the text under acrylics. Those words are the armature on which I build the painting. So even though they may not be legible in the end, they are present.
I always work with transparent colors. I do so much layering andI want a portion of all the decisions I made to have a voice.
I work simultaneously with drawing, painting and calligraphy tools. I write, paint, draw, add, remove, reveal and repeat that process over and over all the while letting words in the poem dictate imagery and color choices. I am not afraid to cover what I’ve written.
I am fascinated by barnacles. Dead or alive I find their aquatic architecture visually exciting. All those variations of white.The pock marks left by their foundations. I have always been drawn to pattern and texture. And barnacles are masters at creating that with their lace-like colonies. They find their way into much of my work.
Collaborating with living poets and especially ones I know, is particularly fulfilling. It isa path I will continue to pursue with my art, and I hope to teach collaborative workshops with poets in the near future.
This Forest, This Beach, You
If you were a cedar
you would be waiting for rain to fall
or fall harder, relaxing your ten thousand needles.
If you were a handful of moss
you would be waiting for the light so you could
climb further up this rich, fallen log.
If you were a blue mussel
you would be waiting for the tide to rise
to open your lips, to sip.
What a world this is.
Close your eyes and inhale. Eat a little
of this air. Let it fill your belly. Let the taste of this place
always always rest on your tongue.
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