Illuminated Calligraphy
Text, artwork, and calligraphy are all  by me.  
The lettering and  some of the designwork are
done in India ink.  Other media used are
pigment inks, metallic inks, Prismacolor
pencil and watercolor.  

Incorporated into the detailed decorative
carpeting are numerous Celtic-style knotwork
patterns, which are composed of a single line
that weaves over and under itself and back to
its own beginning, symbolizing eternity and
unity, thus a fitting emblem of marriage.  

Original is not for sale.

1088-P   Limited Edition Print  
But you can order this image as a poster or
plaque, as well as a number of other items,
my CafePress store
The central text of this piece is the well known passage from
Shakespeare's "Hamlet" wherein Polonius advises his departing
son,"This above all: to thine own self be true and it must follow as the
night the day, that thou canst not then be false to any man." The
miniature watercolor paintings in the upper and lower areas correspond
to the day and night referred to in this speech.

Woven into the overall design are six additional passages addressing
the theme of personal authenticity.  Included are quotations from Lao
Tse, Euripides, Chaucer, Wittier, Lessing and Thoreau, spanning 2400
years.   A further expression of the overall theme is found in the Celtic
knotwork designs in which a single line weaves over and under itself
and back to its beginning, a fitting symbol for personal integrity.

India ink, pigment inks, metallic inks, watercolor, and 23-1/2k pearl gold
on d'Arches  140 lb hot-pressed 100% rag paper.  Image size 11 5/8" x
8 3/8".  Ornate gilt wood frame.  Triple matted:  antique gold and deep
blue inner mats, off-white stucco textured top mat.  $2000, shipping

Limited Edition Print (250 prints total), each one individually signed and
numbered.  Image size same as original.  Paper size 14 1/4" x 11"
Available from
my Etsy shop
Latin for "Love conquers

This piece was drawn on
parchment paper using
India ink, metallic ink,
Prismacolor pencils and
pigment inks.

The original is already
SOLD, but framed prints
as well as notecards,
T-shirts, tiles, mugs - and
even baby onesies! - are
available at my Cafe
Press shop  (see link at

The text of this ancient blessing is written in Old English script in sepia ink.
Other media used are pigment inks, gold metallic ink and watercolor. The 9
7/8" x 6" original piece is on acid-free 140 lb. 100% rag d'Arches watercolor
paper. The detailed designs, especially the knot work, were inspired by the
"carpet" pages of the Book of Kells, an 8th century Irish illuminated manuscript
created at the monastery on the island of Iona, then later moved to the
monastery at Kells for safety from raiders.  It is now at Trinity College, Dublin,
where I actually got to view it and other medieval manuscripts in person!

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All images copyright Gail Coppock

When I first came across images of the
illuminated manuscripts produced in
monasteries in the British Isles as early as the
800's, I was immediately taken with the
sumptuousness of design and color.

At the time, it did not yet occur to me that it
was a bit ironic that monks living within damp,
bone-chilling stone walls, with the most
meager of creature comforts, could be
inspired to create some of the most
intricately-designed, luminously painted
manuscripts of the Western world.  All I knew
was that they made me want to make my own
"carpet" pages of geometric patterns,
continuous-line knotwork and zoomorphic

Eager to take my own handlettering, which I'd
been doing since 1978, to a different level by
incorporating these ancient design ideas, I
studied facsimiles of old illuminated
manuscripts to learn the principles of Celtic
interlacing  -  poring over whatever images I
could find on the internet and in the local
library  -  so that I could create my own original
knotwork designs.

This process led to my becoming more aware
of the geometric patterns and shapes all
around me - from the embossing on a paper
napkin in a diner, to the Greek-inspired design
on the linoleum floor of a funky little beach
house we rented, to the beautiful Moorish
mosaics featured on a Smithsonian magazine

At first the complexity of Celtic knotwork was a
bit daunting:  how to create a decorative
design that not only stands on its own with
aesthetic integrity but is also true to the
principle of the neverending line which crosses
over and under itself and eventually back to its
own beginning.  After a while, though, it started
to become part of me.  It was an "aha"
experience that gave rise to a whole new, and
very fulfilling, mode of visual expression for me.

New, yes, but also very old.  Many times I have
visited in my  mind the ascetic calligraphers of
hundreds of years ago, working in their
scriptoria:  those monks whose rich
imagination lead to the ethereal, illuminated
pages that might never be equaled.  And
always I am in awe of - and forever indebted to
- their creative vision as well as the example of
their exquisitely careful execution.
                                          - Gail

Click on any image for
an enlarged view.

Then click again  for a
really detailed image.
Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, which begins, "Two roads
diverged in a yellow wood ..."  - hence the autumnal
watercolor motif.

The central design, done in carefully drawn Celtic knot work,
represents the four cardinal directions, apropos of  deciding
in which direction to go.

The original is
SOLD, but prints and other items with this
image can be purchased at
my Cafe Press store.

The original is SOLD,
but items featuring this
"Carpe Diem" image
are available at
CafePress store.
(Mugs, note cards,
prints, calendars,
framed tiles, T shirts ....
all kinds of stuff!)
Limited edition
signed & numbered
prints are SOLD

But posters, wall
plaques, etc. are
available  at my
Cafe Press store
This piece was
featured on the
cover of Congregational
Magazine as well
as in an article