Media: Gold leaf, watercolor, gouache and sumi ink on white pergamenata. Dimensions: h: 20″, w: 16″. Artist: Raoul Martinez. Commission for the Horizons Foundation. Title: These I Singing in Spring. Author: Walt Whitman
I applied the patent gold leaf O first, using Instacoll as size. The size was applied with a 00 size brush. I then outlined the O with a 1 mm Pigma micron, added the cobalt green watercolor, wrote the token of comrades line in green watercolor and added the shadowing in gold leaf. When the watercolor was dry, I did the trellising using gold gouache with a ruling pen and a 00 size brush. Finally, I did the text in sumi ink with a 3 mm. Brause nib.
In 1855, Walt Whitman published the first of several editions of his epic poem Leaves of Grass. It’s name was a pun, “grass” implying that it had little value, and “leaves” referring to the pages on which it was written. It would raise eyebrows, get him fired from his job at the Department of the Interior and be called a “mass of filth” by Rufus Wilmot Griswold.
These I Singing in Spring is one of the Calamus poems, a cluster of of poems in which Whitman celebrated the “manly love of comrades” and tell the story of his relationship with a male lover. The image of the calamus, a marsh plant like a cat-tail, recurs throughout the poems; at least for Whitman, its pink-tinged roots are believed to symbolize the phallus, failed male same-sex love and writing (!). It was his most personal and candid poetry, and is cited by proponents of his homosexuality.
The full text of These I Singing in Spring is on Project Gutenberg at http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1322/1322-h/1322-h.htm#link2H_4_0048.