About this project
Why should you fund this project?
By helping to Kickstart The Illuminated Origin of Species you will be part of a historic endeavor to create a modern masterpiece that combines calligraphy and traditional illumination with one of the greatest works of scientific literature. It is an opportunity for you to receive truly unique cards, art prints, and original art associated with the first Illuminated manuscript based on Darwin's Origin of Species.
Chrysina gloriosa, watercolor and gold on paper, Kelly M. Houle, 2011
“There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”
—Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species,1859
The above design is available as a boxed set of 8 gold-embossed greeting cards for a pledge of $30.
Why create an illuminated manuscript?
An illuminated manuscript is not merely a handwritten copy of a book, it is an original work of art that is cherished and preserved for generations for its beauty and importance.
Leptinotarsa lineolata, watercolor and colored pencil, Kelly M. Houle, 2011
Traditional illumination is still practiced by modern calligraphers, but creating an entire illuminated book is a relatively rare endeavor. It requires enormous patience, skill, and time. Any written work to be embellished in this way must be worthy of the time and resources required by the artist to write every word by hand, and illustrate the pages in sumptuous detail.
Purplr Arum Lily, Kelly M. Houle, 2011
Darwin's work presents a glorious range of possibilities for illustration and illumination. Gold will be used to symbolize sunlight, central to all life. Iridescence appears in almost all forms of life, including plants, shells, feathers, rocks, scales, and it absolutely flourishes in the insect world. As an artist with a background in calligraphy, science, and bookmaking, I feel I have finally found my calling as an artist, scribe, and illuminator working in the service of science. I look forward to spending the next few years creating a beautiful book in celebration of nature and human endeavor.
What makes The Origin of Species so special?
The Origin of Species explains how we got here, and why all living things are the way they are. It illuminates our history. Darwin was the quintessential scientist, pouring over the details of nature, asking questions, making hypotheses, and gathering as much evidence as he could, not only from his own travels, but from his colleagues around the globe. The result is one of the most important books of all geological time, but don't just take my word for it. Here is what others have said:
"Darwin's Origin of Species is one of humanity's crowning achievements." James T. Costa
"The Theory of Darwinian Evolution, which continues to be refined by thousands of scientists working around the world, is the basis for the entire field of modern biology. Today it is one of the most important concepts in science and probably in the history of human thought." John Kress
"Charles Darwin's Origin of Species is one of the most precious books in the entire library of our species." Richard Dawkins
"(The Origin of Species) was one of the greatest and most striking scientific discoveries of all time, and it is the basis of modern biology and medicine, leading to countless other discoveries that have continued to save thousands of lives." Lawrence Krauss
"If I were to give an award for the single best idea anyone ever had, I'd give it to Darwin, ahead of Newton and Einstein and everyone else." Daniel C. Dennett
Next to the Bible no work has been quite as influential, in virtually every aspect of human thought, as The Origin of Species.” Ashley Montagu
"(The Origin of Species) is, together perhaps with Galileo's dialogues on motion, easily the most readable and approachable of the great revolutionary works of the scientific imagination." John Burrow
"Arguably history's most influential book." E.O. Wilson
What's with the beetles?
It was Darwin's early enthusiasm for collecting beetles that first led him toward the theory of evolution by natural selection. The fact that beetles fascinated young Darwin make them perfect for the opening pages of an illuminated manuscript based on his greatest work. Their shiny, metallic and iridescent surfaces will be fun to paint and embellish with real gold. I'm looking forward to illuminating over a hundred different beetles for the four 22x30-inch pages of the Table of Contents.
How will the money be used?
The money raised through Kickstarter will be directly applied to the creation and printing of the Title Page and the Table of Contents for a total of five 22x30 pages. I have already purchased all of the paint, paper, and gold to create the initial prototype page as well as the first five pages of the book. Every dollar you donate will give me the time and freedom to design, write, paint, and gild the first five pages of the book, in addition to producing great rewards for you, the visionary donors. Funding raised above and beyond my initial goal will be used to begin the Introduction of The Illuminated Origin.
What is your process?
More details about the process can be found on www.illuminatedorigin.com.
I truly appreciate your support. Thank you!
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