The Letterarian

Artist. Keeper of letters…



via subject/space: obscure — words to stitch by

I have been listening to an audio book version of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway while working on a sewing project. I have read the book several times over the years, and have seen the film featuring Vanessa Redgrave as Mrs. Dalloway several times as well. I never tire of this novel, and it always surpises me how I respond to it everytime I read it – it seems that I relate to something different each time, and I always find something that I didn’t catch on the previous readings. VW covers several stages of life in this novel, and interspersed in between these life occurrences is the second by minute by hourly moments that may pass us by and appear mundane and too ordinary for us to really take notice of…

I’ve always been drawn to Virginia Woolf’s work not because of what she is saying in her novels, but because of how she writes her narratives, and how she tackles her subjects in her unique voice and narrative style. This time I am actually responding to the story at a parallel level with the way it is being told (perhaps one of the benefits of listening to the audio version, where I can concentrate on hearing instead of reading text). It’s a great experience, to be sure!

And while working on my sewing my mind certainly does wander, like the wandering thoughts VW displays in the novel…yes, that interior monologue that goes on and on in the novel…it is similar to the one in my own head as I bend in to do a project that requires physical dexterity…

Phyllida Law reads this audio version… I love her voice, and it even reminds me a bit of VW’s voice, from this recording: …I love VW’s voice too.

Mrs. Dalloway

A masterpiece of interior monologue…a perfect execution of mental dexterity!




voices mingling
reaching out
across a painted bridge

opening wind

whispering leaves


©Jacqueline Harris 2016

The Book of Laughter


Happiness is elusive.
Just when you think
you’ve got a good hold of it,
it slips from your grasp.

And yet,
it’s as free for the taking
as the air that we breathe.

I can hear it laughing.

©Jacqueline Harris 2016
The Book of Laughter Artist book, hand lettered, bound, printed, and embossed. Edition of 4.


Night & Day books

Chasing natural light and shaping shadows with my books Night & Day I and Night & Day II.

Artist books. Night & Day I and Night & Day II. ©Jacqueline Harris 2016

Just heard the radio guy say, “…art is how we decorate space, and music how we decorate silence…” Poetic, isn’t it!

Shadows are but extensions of the dark and of dense matter as they are pushed out by the light. To know the light, one must find acquaintance with the dark. Although the shadow may seem born of the dark, it is the light that brings it forth. The shadow can also be seen as a path that leads you to the light.

The following is a narrative of shade and light unfolding… Introducing Shades of Light, a series of four books that contemplates shadow and light.


Summer Solstice 2016

In anticipation of experiencing a “strawberry moon” on the summer solstice, I prepared my tripod and Sony camera with zoom lens so that I could capture this rare occasion of a full moon rising on the longest day of the year. I had envisioned a clear night from which to take my photos. Alas, I could say that an evil system of clouds rolled in and obscured my fantasy of a perfect round ball of night light floating in the atmosphere, but can truly say that this cloud system actually made that full solstice moon look even more beautiful. I could not take my eyes away from the sight of this beautiful view, which did not appear from my focal viewpoint until after 11:15 PM. What a mesmerizing scene!

Summer solstice full moon 2016 ©Jacqueline Harris 2016

Writing & Visuality

This is a question that I ask myself: What is writing? Does the act of writing always have to deal with letters? What if the act of writing dealt with image… We could say that written/drawn letters can become image, but what about the act, the motion of writing becoming the image…After all, writing is a gestural act, and unique to each hand that practices it.
The three works I am showing below are examples of inkless prints – one of the areas I have been working on to which I have been applying the musings above. It is interesting to think of the works below as writing, as they have not been rendered with ink… Within these works, the light casts shadows upon the carved forms, and the shadows act as the ink.

“Just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl” is a traditionally lettered piece inspired by the Roman Cursive style of writing. The letters were rendered in a traditional calligraphic manner, then transferred to a board to be used as a plate for printing. Working on the “empty” space surrounding the letters, acrylic medium was shaped around the edge of the letters, with further detailing applied throughout the plate. The plate work was as much sculpted as it was written.The focus of development for this work was on making the letters clear and legible. To my eye, this piece has a more traditional, classic lettering element.

“Two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl” 2008 9” x 15” (22.8 cm x 38 cm) Inkless print on Rives Moulin du Gue from board with acrylic medium, printed on an etching press. Lyric line from Pink Floyd’s “Wish you were here” song.
Detail of “Two lost souls…”


“Bound by Nature” is another lettered work. Here I was developing some expressive outline letters that relied on impulsive gestural movements to form them. Once transferred to the linoleum, these lively letters were carved with my carving tool into the plate, again, in a gestural manner – much like hand writing. The letters are mostly legible, but somehow they take on a dancing, drawn quality.

“Bound by Nature” 2011 Inkless print on Canson Edition printed from linoleum on an etching press. 4” x 7 1/2” (10.2 cm x 19 cm)
Detail of “Bound by Nature”


“Solitude” is an example of a work that I call a “written image.” While the moon is formed from acrylic medium applied to the lino plate, the carving of the tree image is rendered in strokes that are very much like hand writing. My carving knife has become my pen, and my image my writing. For me, it is like writing a poem, except that in this instance, the image is the poem, and the strokes used to make the image the “letters” that made up that poem.

“Solitude” 2014 Inkless print on Canson Edition printed from linoleum on an etching press. 5 3/8” x 7 1/2” (13.6 cm x 19 cm)
Detail of “Solitude”


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