Massimo Polello
Torino, Italy

B30 — Order and Chaos
Four-Day Class, Monday, July 27 – Friday, July 31
Intermediate, Intermediate/Advanced, Advanced
Book Arts, Design, Lettering, Painting

The Roman capital letters are the perfect example of precision and equilibrium: order in the classic and purest sense of the word. We will write them with a flat brush, studying their construction, ductus, proportions, and spacing. But even at this early stage we might start to realize that these letters might not be as orderly as they seem.

In the second part of this class we will develop and explore the different ways of executing a freer form of writing. In brief, a form of writing that is driven by instinct, and comes from the gut, writing that arises from Dionysus’ chaos, which apparently has no rules. Suggested ways of doing this include dripping writing with your eyes closed or pictorial gestural techniques, but the aim is to encourage every student to develop his/her own technique.

Finally, we will combine order and chaos, Apollonian and Dionysian, to make and bind a book.

Supply List

  • Basic calligraphy supplies plus:
  • Plastic or paper cups for water and ink
  • A flat palette at least 4″ x 4″; can be a small ceramic square tile with straight edges or a plastic palette
  • 1 flat brush Winsor & Newton series 995 size ¾″
  • Automatic pens
  • Ruling pens, cola pens, or similar tools
  • Pointed nib (for Copperplate)
  • 2 mm or 1 mm nib (Brause, Speedball, or Mitchell)
  • Small Chinese or Japanese brush or normal pointed brush
  • Apron or old shirt to protect your clothes
  • 6B lead pencil
  • Colored pencils
  • 10 – 15 sheets Stonehenge paper, 22″ x 30″, your choice of colors
  • 3 sheets Stonehenge paper 22″ x 30″ in black
  • 1 sheet black heavy paper, 22″ x 30″ or larger for cover of your book (such as Arches cover)
  • A pad of smooth sketching paper, (lighter weight papers) 14″ x 17″ or preferably 11″ x 17″ layout bond paper
  • 2 sheets of tracing paper, 22″ x 30″ or smaller size
  • A piece of fabric (approximately 40″ x 50″) of pure cotton (white is fine) to use for brush writing
  • Good quality gouache: black and white and colors of your choice (suggested Talens or Winsor & Newton)
  • Black ink (suggested Moon Palace sumi ink or other sumi ink)
  • Materials necessary for bookbinding (needles, wire, bone folder)

Supply fee: $15 to cover the cost of large sheets of brown kraft paper and enamel paints

massimo_polello Based in Turin, Italy, Massimo Polello has worked as a calligraphic artist for over a decade. Since studying calligraphy at the Toulouse Scriptorium with numerous calligraphers and internationally recognized master penmen, he has explored its classical and contemporary applications. These include designing packaging and signage logos for companies, museums, and individuals, as well as applying his designs to walls. He has exhibited and led workshops internationally in the US, Australia, South Africa, Canada, Pakistan, Japan, France, Germany, Spain, Belgium, and England. Massimo worked on several short films, and is a contributor to Graphicus, TipoItalia and Letters Arts Review magazines. He published Traité de la peinture-Extraits with Editions Alternatives Publisher, Paris and worked with artist and film-maker Peter Greenaway in Peopling the Palace and with the director Luca Ronconi on the installation of the of 150th anniversary exhibition of the Unification of Italy, La Bella Italia (youtu.be/o97eJUAc6Gg).

Massimo is the president of the Turin calligraphers’ guild Dal Segno alla Scrittura and owner of Studio Gallery ABC Atelier and has collaborated with the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence. He sums up his approach to calligraphy: “…letters become a means to exist outside myself…going beyond the letters, captured by a sole need to see. They become signs, images, evocations, urgent needs, emotions.”

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