Peter Thorton: Workshop Inspired and Based on the Letters of Adolf Bernd

May 3–4, 2008

The desire to decorate lies within us all and for over 1500 years the letter has served us well. Beginning as a signpost to the reader it quickly became an object of beauty as an end in itself.

The letter ‘L’ by Adolph Bernd
The letter ‘L’ by Adolf Bernd.

Using the wonderful letters of Adolf Bernd (1909–1994) for inspiration and as a starting point, we shall examine 3 areas of his (and our) major interests.

a. the backgrounds
b. the letterforms
c. the colour harmonies and integration

In this workshop, for all levels of ability, we shall begin with simple exercises in colour unity and contrasts on shapes, patterns and themes of Adolf Bernd’s (and our own) choices which will lead to the decoration of both historic and contemporary letters.

A feature of the class will be to take/use colours from ‘nature’ (see material list) and transfer these onto our letters and backgrounds.

Example of student work
Example of student work from a previous workshops.

Material list:

  • Good quality watercolors
    • two reds (a crimson red and an orange red)
    • two blues (a violet blue and a cool/yellow blue)
    • two yellows (an orange yellow and a cool yellow)
  • good medium weight watercolor paper
  • fine pointed brushes sizes 2, 4, and 6
  • palette (a white plate will work)
  • pencil
  • eraser
  • paper towels

Two sheets of 25 x 40 inch Arches MBM Ingres paper will be provided for a materials fee of $7.20.


    • any natural object (or photo would work) of flower, feather, vegetable, leaf, bark stone, etc.
    • drawing board optional

    Example of student work - the letter ‘P’
    Example of student work from a previous workshops.

    Workshop Registration Form
    Registration form and payment must be sent to Lily Hoy by April 19.
    Workshop fee: $100 Guild Members / $120 Non-members.

    Workshop will be held Room 227, Margaret Morrison Hall, Carnegie Mellon University (campus map).

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