Biting off more words than I can spell…

I am attempting a monumental spelling picture! This is not a commission, I have it in mind to submit it to an exhibition. I wanted to spell with people (drawings of: I do not know that many people that flexible). My first thought was it would be fun do spell, say ‘Frantic’ with relaxed sleepy people, and ‘Serene’ with panicky people, but this failed because by the time the people are constrained to spell letters, there is very little scope left for showing facial expressions or emotional body language.

So I cast about for a quote involving nudity, and came up with something rather apt… It is, however, a rather long quote for the Spelling People, and currently I feel a bit like a cartographer.

I started by drawing most of the words out on paper, omitting some of the repeated letters but creating a couple of alternatives where it was possible. I then scanned them into the computer and ‘typeset’ the quote. Having traced it onto my huge piece of paper I am waiting for daylight when I can work on it again since the paper is far too curly to handle in any way other than to weigh it down on the top of my plan chest.

You may be able to read what it is going to become in the photos (bear in mind accidentally flipped one of the letters the wrong way round), but if not, I shall post the finished Spelling People very soon…

spelling people - individual letters
Individual letters, scanned and ready for assembling into words
drawing paper
Very nice, thick drawing paper, but dreadfully curly – I never get this monster roll out unless there really is no alternative.
The computer print out
The computer print out
The tracing
The tracing
test sample in indian ink
A test sample in Indian Ink – there will be a lot of white space so I need something that will not get swamped by all that whiteness



  1. Neat and fun. Quite the undertaking… but you’re good at that.

  2. Wow, wow, and wow – I sure do love the ‘letters.’

  3. Thanks Mgon & Christian 🙂
    Today, I get to actually draw them – most of the work has been done already… unless I spill ink on any part of that white surface!

  4. This is amazing! !!!!!!

  5. […] « Previous / Next » By Nancy Farmer / January 21, 2015 / Drawing, The Spelling Animals / Leave a comment […]

  6. […] and explanation, the quote is from William Blake, and the work in progress pictures are here: ‘Biting off more words than I can spell’ ‘Still chewing over the […]

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