December 27, 2011

Brender à Brandis Alphabet

        I got a wonderful Christmas gift from my parents - another block printed alphabet!  Now that this alphabet is added to my collection, I'm sure more of Gerard Brender à Brandis's wonderful prints will be showing up in future alphabet posts, but here's an introduction to his work.
        A Wood Engraver's Alphabet should really be called "A Botanical Alphabet."  Each letter is represented by a beautiful, detailed wood engraving of a plant, most of them being common garden flowers, with a few exotics filling things out.  Unlike me, Brender à Brandis used only common names for alphabetizing; no scientific names.  (But he did have to cheat pretty badly for X: foXglove. (Compare some other artists' attempts at X).)


        Gerard Brander à Brandis is a Canadian, born in Holland.  He's a gardener and orchidophile and has done several other books of botanical wood engravings, which I have not seen (although you can find some of the images on-line.)  I feel a certain sense of connection with another artist who works to portray something so celebrated for colors in a medium that allows only for form and pattern in black and white.  But of course his style is very different from mine.
        I just love the detail and texture possible with wood engraving.  Many of Brender à Brandis's pieces are almost lacy.  Many of them remind me of Renaissance diaper patterns (no, that has nothing to do with nappies.  A diaper is a repeated design woven into fabric.  Maybe I need to revisit this one in the Words of the Month some time.)  Anyway, what I mean is that many of the pieces in this alphabet are designed with an equal pattern all over instead of a single point of focus.  The Rose is an example of that.
        My favorites are usually the ones that have high contrast, though.  I like it when there are areas of black and white instead of everything an even level of texture.  I really love Morning Glory, for example.
        We're having a pretty mild winter here so far, but even so it's always pleasant to spend a little time among flowers in December.

[Pictures: Fireweed, wood engraving by Gerard Brender à Brandis, from A Wood Engraver's Alphabet, 2008;
Zinnia, wood engraving by Brender à Brandis, from A Wood Engraver's Alphabet, 2008;
Rose, wood engraving by Brender à Brandis, from A Wood Engraver's Alphabet, 2008;
Morning Glory, wood engraving by Brender à Brandis, from A Wood Engraver's Alphabet, 2008.]

No comments:

Post a Comment