Thursday, November 06, 2008

Awards for Eadain

HL Eadain is a really awesome apprentice and a really great friend. She's also wickedly funny and one of the best illuminators I have had the pleasure to know.

I have had a few opportunities to create award scrolls for her and on several occasions I have chosen to go tiny. Something about painting for a great illuminator always makes you question yourself, even if that illuminator is your apprentice. Perhaps especially so in that case because the last thing I wanted to do was mess up something that would hang on her wall.

Both of these pages inspired by my beloved Mira Calligrapiae Monumenta are a total size of 6x4 with about 5x3 inches of artwork. Working on this scale can be a challenge but I love to work on delicate flowers and minute shading. I chose each of the subjects of these pieces carefully to create a nice balance of art, calligraphy, color, and light.

The end result of the daffodil in the first piece really pleased me and it had a good quality of light. The purple and yellow columbine flower took longer than expected but the complexity of the flower required a lighter hand with the needed shading. I am not sure I was ever totally happy with the end result of the acorns, but overall the piece turned out well balanced. This piece was a Grant of Arms so I tried for something a little more complex than a non-armigerous scroll.

In the second piece I think that the snail was my favorite part to create. I was truly surprised by how many hours of my time disappeared into that little gastropod. This award is a Trade Winds given for excellence in teaching of the arts and sciences. The flowers on the piece were actually pretty quick to paint but I never was entirely happy with the bee critter.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Octavio, Baron of the Court

Court Barony for Master Octavio de Flores.

I was working on this fun little tromp l'oiel piece when I got a call about a court baronet scroll being needed for my dear friend Octavio. At that point I dropped about ever ounce of my available effort and artsy-ness into the page as Octavio is quite dear to me.
The end result was remarkably shiny but turned out well enough to make me happy. Yah, that's a lot of gold.

I remember the little purple an yellow flowers, the caterpillar on the bottom left and the berries were all especially fun to paint. However, my idea of fun is not always the same as everyone else.

Page executed in AS 4o by the reckoning of the SCA but these photos were only recently collected by a friend.

I urge all you scribes to take photos of your work before it goes out because once a piece flies free from your hands you may not have another chance to photograph it for many years.

Mairi's Laurel

Laurel scroll for Mistress Mairi inspired by a page from the Visconti Hours. This piece was done in AS 39 but I have not had a picture of it until recently.

This one gave me a bit of grief as figures have never been my strong point. I love painting drapery an clothing but it has always been faces and hands that would keep me up at night.

The red pen squiggles were a lot of fun and provied nice text filler.

I think I selected this piece because of the vast number of acorns depicted in the original page as Mistress Mairi is quite fond of them.

Watercolor gouache on bristol board. Windsor Newton calligraphy ink, speedball nib, gold leaf.

Friday, June 13, 2008

More botanical fun!

Featuring a four-o-clock, a lemon, and something I cannot remember at the moment. I have a little bit more detailing left on the four-o-clock, like the flower stamens. Finish up a few page shadoes for the lemon and the mystery flowers and I should have this wrapped up. Hurrah.

Sorry for the slightly blurred image. I do not rock as a photographer.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Vanessa atalanta

In my many year since I have started with scribal arts, I have never once made a single piece of art that I meant to keep or was really even slated for me. I ended up with my first original illuminated border coming back to me as my AoA (and as a lesson in leaving proper borders), but since then I have none of my own art on my walls. I hear there are some nice collections of my scribal arts on the walls of my friends though, so at least that's something.

However, I was feeling unwell this week and decided to paint to take my mind ouff the hurt. I had no books of illumination to pour over and find inspiration, instead I had some printed out photos of butterflies. Thus, I was inspired.

I chose a Red Admiral (Vanessa atalanta) as I have ever enjoyed the brilliant flash of red as these butterflies wing by. The deep velvety blacks and browns of their wings set such a gorgeous contrast for their more brilliant hues.
The first image is the butterfly photo and my rendition, one above the other. The second photo is of my painting alone.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Another sort of Inke

A few weeks ago, my apprentice Lady Bres decided to cook up some ink for an upcoming Art/Sci project. It was quite a fun day for all involved. Below, the recipe and some pictures of our lovely experience. Note the delightful color of the wooden spoon as the ink progresses.

This type of project is easy to do in an afternoon and as it involves wine it just makes sense to buy some extra a while away the cooking time with a glass of vine in your hand. I must recommend leaving open a window or two though, as it is somewhat stinky.

Take a quart of strong wine, put it into a new pot, and set it on a soft fire till it be hote, but let it not seeth, then put into it foure ounces of gauls, two ounces and a halfe of gum Arabike,and two ounces of victriall, al beaten into smal pouder, and sifted through a sive, stirre it with a wooden sticke, and it will be good inke.

Find more period ink recipes here: Ink Corrosion

A great big thanks to Bres for getting this project going and hosting the ink making at her home.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Elena's County

This was done some 6-7 years ago. One of my first pieces on vellum, this was a bit of a learning experience. It was also the second time I was using ground mineral pigments, making my own glair, and I was still not so sure-handed with gilding.

Why my friends asked me to produce work in this period, I have no clue. I look back at pages done years ago and can see only the flaws.

Based upon folio 124r of the Manesse Codex depicting Walther von der Vogelweide sitting in a pose described in one of his most famous songs, I adapted this page for Elena's County. I used a more feminine border from another page of the Codex Manesse and left out the helm and scroll depicted in the original.

One personal addition, a tiny purple goblet, was inserted at the bottom of the frame as a bit of fun-poking at my dear friend Elena.

I do have to say it is very odd looking with fresh eyes at a project done so long ago.

Elena's Duchy

I executed this duchy for Duchess Elena several years ago (maybe five to six years ago) but this is the first time I have had access to an image.

Executed in ground mineral pigments, shell gold, red vermillion ink, on vellum.

I need to look up the origin of the piece to give any more information. Honestly, its been years.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

My Heart Swells

My former foster apprentice, now one of our newest Laurels, Mistress Maeva scored a very impressive 25/25 at the Gulf Wars Art/Sci competition. A perfect score. Rare and impressive.

Trimaris won the Gulf Wars Art/Sci War Point!

Clearly, the standards for inter-kingdom Calligraphy and Illumination Art/Sci entries have been set and the bar is fairly high. These masterwork pieces all encompassed the use of vellum (some made from inexpensive drum heads), period pigments, real gold leaf, hand-made quills, hand-made brushes, oak gall ink, and period techniques straight out of period sources.

I know this may seem daunting, but this truly is all about the process of a medieval scribe and the challenges of working with materials that were then standard for this art. Sure, modern substituted materials are just perfect for knocking out C&I for award charters and such, but when it comes to Art/Sci we need to keep the bar high. Using modern materials, one can practice period painting techniques and then transition to period materials (as time, skill and cost allow) at their own pace.

Not every piece will be a masterwork. However, if you want to create a masterwork and watch it go all the way... you need to recognize what is expected. Calligraphy and illumination executed with the materials and techniques of the middle ages scribe. Clearly, it can be done. There were three perfect scores in C&I at the war... all of them had the same high standards and remarkable skill.

I had a great time judging Art/Sci with Mistress Anna Niki and a lovely apprentice lady (her name currently escapes me). Truly a fantastic experience.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Gilded Lessons

This past weekend I worked with yet another of my students on the art of gilding. I think I have finally realized that I do not like to teach gilding as a class, but rather as a more personal one on one or maybe two student basis. The students learn better and I don't fly about the room trying to catch loose pieces of leaf before they become expensive confetti.

My favorite part of teaching gilding... once the lesson ends the student looks up baffled and says "That's it?". Once I tell them that is indeed all there is to it I usually get the response of "But that is so easy!".

Indeed. And it just looks so much better than paint. I do love the gleam of gold on a page.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

More Mira

While demoing calligraphy and illumination this past weekend I reached a near completion state on two more pieces inspired by the Mira calligraphiae monumenta. They were quick pieces completed in between answering the mostly pedestrian questions of visitors, but I think they ended up as passable, even with all the table jostling.

The first piece has not yet been fully shaded and still requires the page shadows of the items. The subject matter is a poppy, a poppy pod, and a blade of reed grass. Clearly I had opium on the brain. The obverse section of the blade of reed grass pierced through the page has not been executed, and I may or may not get to that.

These three items were each found on different pages of the Mira calligraphiae monumenta, but I liked the feel and composition of them together on a single page. This illumination is on a standard 8.5 x 11 sheet of smooth Bristol. The paints are various brands of watercolor gouache. All painting was executed with a series of extra long liner brushes size 2, 1, and 0.
I have to admit that the center of the poppy is my favorite part of the whole piece and may have taken the greatest length of time to get just right. The startling colors of the poppy were a bit difficult to work with as cadmium red is pretty offensive as a color by itself. Luckily the addition of various other shades helped to tone it down from eye-popping.

The subject of the second piece is blackberry and odd catch-fly flowers. This composition of the two plants is original to the Mira calligraphiae monumenta and has been recreated without a great deal of alteration. I did make a choice to use brighter green hues for the blackberry leaves as the original has a somewhat sickly yellowish cast and I wanted something a little more 'upbeat'.

The catch-fly flowers were a bit of a challenge as they largely lack definition. White flowers on a white page. Fun, really. The blackberries presented a whole different challenge as it took a remarkable umber of shade to give them the subtlety they require. This page has a 5x7 inch writing space in which the illumination has also been completed. It will be a tiny page overall. Bristol board, watercolor gouache. Painted with extra long liners size 2, 1, 0.