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.