All my life I've been into music and words, words and music. Although I liked
to doodle, and although my family (maternal side, plus my sister) has dabbled
in painting and other artistic pursuits, I have never done anything in the
graphic arts that I was proud of--and have never cared much, excelling, as I
said, in music and words, words and music.
Hard to believe, then, that when I sat down to try my hand at scribal
illumination as a project in the SCA,
I found that not only was it fun, I actually did pretty well at it. This
is like a little extra allotment of wonderfulness in life, that I don't
deserve, but that I'm willing to work at.
I have a sheaf of "first tries" and little doodle-type pieces, but my
actual scroll blanks (as well as a couple of pieces meant for other purposes) are below. These types of pieces, usually
modeled after medieval and Renaissance manuscript pages or other documents,
are produced and donated for use in presenting awards to worthy gentles in
the SCA. Each person who gets an award, also receives what is truly an original work of art: a hand-painted and hand-calligraphed scroll, signed and sealed by the King and Queen or Prince and Princess, with text explaining why they are receiving the award.
The first five scroll blanks I made were meant for a scroll drive being arranged
by the Shire of Schattentor (Rapid City, SD) to benefit the Kingdom of the
Outlands (New Mexico, Colorado, and parts of Wyoming, Texas, and Nebraska).
In the Middle Kingdom we are used to getting handmade scrolls in Court,
as our awards are presented. In fact, I got heartfelt apologies from Prince
Alasdair when my AoA scroll wasn't available until Feast. But in the Outlands,
they have a ten-year scroll backlog. I assume people are getting photocopied
promissory scrolls, or nothing at all. So, in the interest of generosity,
in additon to liking the idea of sending my first few scribal efforts far,
far away, I decided to donate my first five scrolls.
One note that may be useful: any tawny tan or brownish color in the scrolls
is gold, produced in a semi-period fashion by combining distilled water,
gum arabic as a binder, and Pearlex gold pigment. It doesn't scan well,
losing all its sparkle in the process.
- Scroll 1: Copied from a lovely motif
I found on the Internet, plus an initial from Illuminated Initials
in Full Color from Dover. Not period, but I like the way it
turned out. Putting an empty 'shield' shape on the scroll allows for
the receiver to put their personal device on it, once it is registered
with the College of Heralds of the SCA.
- Scroll 2: Simple whitework bar in
gold, blue, and white, with a whitework O found in one of my
books. Check out the whitework stag in the center of the O (yes, it's
supposed to be a stag rampant, the symbol of the Outlands). If your
monitor is very, very good, you can see that the
pattern of whitework on the bar is repeated, by scoring with a blunt
tip, in the gold part of the bar.
- Scroll 3: Sort of an interesting
attempt to duplicate part of a manuscript page from late 1400's Flanders.
The bar and the gold corners look almost identical to the ones in
the original piece, but I think the stylized arrow flowers didn't come
out quite right. I do like the attempt, though.
- Scroll 4: A reproduction of the border
from a page from the Life of St. Edmund, in Bury St. Edmunds, England,
c. 1130. I chose this because, being in a quasi-primitive
style, it looked easy to paint. And in fact, it wasn't too hard, and
came out pretty accurate. I love the fish--they actually look
a little grim for happy swimming fish, don't you think?
- Scroll 5: I am SO happy with how this turned
out. It took about as long as the preceding four combined. It's a
more-or-less exact copy of a border from a page in an Office of the
Dead in an eastern French book of hours, around 1490--not too far from
the time and place my SCA persona would have lived, though she would not
have been illuminating books of hours (not a respectable line of work
for a good Jewish girl!). I've been admiring it in my illumination books
for months and decided, if I broke it down into small enough steps, I
could do it. N.B.: the bottom section is supposed to be gray/black, but
seems to have scanned in dark green.
- Scroll 6: a simple multicolored initial, taken from a Psalter of Gilbert de la Porree, Reading Abbey (England), ca. 1160. The original text in the letter was "Iohes me fecit Rogerio", "John made me for Roger". This was a larger part of the original page, about 2/5 of it, in the lower half of the page. On my scroll it's only about 2 in. tall and is in the upper left hand corner.
- Scroll 7: Border scroll blank, red with gold foliage, painted at That Moot Thingy II, Feb. 2002 and donated to the Principality that same day...so, no scan!
- Gift for Owen Alun in honor of his recognition as a Companion of the Order of the Laurel, May 4, 2002. Still trying to find the exemplar I worked off of--this was painted in Spril 2001, then finished in late Fall 2002. Looks like late 1400's Franco-Flemish. This is the top of a store-bought stool (Owen calls it a table because he doesn't think he should be sitting on the Compass Star), which I sanded, woodburned (just the outlines), and painted. I placed the Star a little too low and was at a loss as to what to do with the extra black space at the top. So I painted a white stripe, then realized about 20 minutes later what had to go in the white stripe. I then left it blank while I showed the stool at Poor Man's Pennsic and Autumn Rose in the Falcon's Keep/Rokeclif Arts & Sciences Challenge. After I finished it I sealed it with polurethane varnish. Paints are acrylic.
- Gift for Sarra Romney of Mermaid Inn for her birthday. This is an illuminated border for a photo I took of her getting her Award of Arms in May 2001. (See it with the photo inserted here. In the photo: Kudrun, Alissende heralding, new Viscountess Yasamin, new Viscount Saeric, Sarra kneeling, Justinian.) The illumination is gouache, pen and Pearlex fake gold (which I've decided is my favorite gold until I can learn to do real gold leaf), with an overall design, white/goldwork, and individual floral accents taken from several late 1400's French and Flemish manuscript illuminations. Sarra likes strawberries. There are also a few accents in the gold and whitework that are personalized for her--see if you can find them.
- Scroll 8: my first miniatures! These are almost exact copies of two small miniatures excerpted on pages 40 and 41 of A Medieval Miscellany, ed. Judith Herrin, New York: Viking Studio, c2000. The book didn't give a citation to the original work. This took less time than I thought--an hour one night to pencil it, and a couple of hours the next night for all the painting. I like the top bunny better; he seems like he's leaping valiantly, rather than about to fall on his tummy like the lower one. Scroll used for Viscount Sir Raito's King's Chalice, given at Warriors and Warlords X, July 13, 2003.
- Scroll 9: 10/17/02. Nothing too complex. From the Rheims Missal "Breviarum Romanum", from Rheims, France, between 1285-1297. I was all excited that the motto was looking so nice, and then I had to go and put an extra "I" in "illuminare". Hence the fact that there isn't enough room between "ministrare" and "illuminare", and the fact that there is a totally superfluous space, painted over in white and filled sheepishly with three dots, in the middle of the word. Oh well! Otherwise I like it. The scroll is larger than the graphic--I scaled it down for convenience in viewing. Scroll used for Lord Yehudah's Northern Cross, given at Northshield Coronet, Oct. 5, 2003.
- Initial and lady playing harp from Scroll 10, 10/25/02, meant to be used for someone's Crwth scroll, hence the initial C (many Crwths start with "Cold winter nights and long twilit summers lend themselves to visits from the muses..."). I was going to do some sort of border down the side, but ran out of energy doing the initial and the figure. All that detail is exhausting, especially when you've never painted a person before! The initial is from the Book of Hours of Mary Stuart, France, ~1475, and the lady was part of the court procession of Louise of Savoy in an illumination from the allegorical The Triumph of Fortitude and Prudence by Jean Thenaud, France, 1522-25. Don't ask me how the lady is holding up her harp--no support is visible in the original either. Scroll used for Mistress Wyndreth Berginsdottir's joint Prince's/Princess' Cypher, given at Northshield Coronet, Oct. 5, 2003.
- Scroll 11: Chickenses!!! The border and the style of the chickens are taken from a Spanish/Jewish manuscript of 1476. The original, in which a border of chickens/foxes encloses a page of Hebrew text, has foxes and dogs chasing and eating some of the chickens, but I don't think we want quite so much verisimilitude in SCA scrolls (or I don't, anyway).
- Scroll 12: A simple whitework border, taken from the Coronation Book of Charles V of France, 1365.
- Scroll 13: I'm not as pleased with this as I'd like to be. It's the inner border from a portrait of the Holy Family from a Spanish book of hours in the latter half of the 1400's, plus a vine and bird from the outer border. This is the part I thought I could effectively reproduce--the rest was either fantastically detailed miniatures or riots of acanthus leaves in all colors. But I think the elements I pulled out of the piece were not meant to stand on their own. I do like the little "robber bird"; I made the area around his eye a bit too dark, I think, but it works. The scan doesn't do much for the scrollwork: the gold doesn't scan as being sparkly, just tan-colored, and the gold on the green just looks muddy. When the light is bouncing off of it, it looks better, trust me.
- Scroll 14: Typical French mid-1400's bar-and-ivy scroll. I'm happy about how this turned out, and even happier at how little time it took: a couple of hours each night, two nights in a row. I copied it from a leaf of a Book of Hours (Heures dites de Francois II, Duc de Bretagne) from ~1425-1450, possibly from Paris, definitely from France. I don't think the spot of diapering on the left-hand side turned out well, though. The original has a big initial D with diapering in the middle, and I wanted to do a bit of diapering even though I wasn't including the initial, but it just looks like an afterthought. Oh well. Overall I'm very pleased.
- Scroll 15: After over a year with my scanner on the fritz, here's the first thing I've scanned in awhile, though not my only scroll for the past year! (I'm so mad I didn't get a scan of the Hebrew one.) This is from plate LF153 from the latter part of the Visconti Hours, the part done by Belbello da Pavia around 1412 or thereafter, for the Duke Filippo Maria Visconti. The gold is Japanese paint I bought in a little dish at the art supply place in Milwaukee near where Mistress Mysie and Dahrien live. Hey, it's January and dry. If you think I was going to futz with real gold leaf in this weather, you're nuts. Anyway, I rather like this one, and am taking a scan to work next week to show the woman in Circ who checked the facsimile of the Visconti Hours out to me.
- Scroll 16: Bad scan, nice scroll, I think. This is a border from the Cantigas de Santa Maria (Spain, 1283), from the manuscript with all the comic-book-style illuminations. It's gouache and Japanese gold paint on vegetable parchment, I think the piece of parchment that Mommy Mommy gave me at my first illumination class. I had to make a bunch of decisions on this (paint the white interstices with white, or leave them blank; outline with a pen or crow quill; black outlining or brown, etc.). The color scheme is definitely faithful. However, I probably should have practiced with the crow quill first instead of jumping right in and learning as I went. The castles are the symbol of the House of Castille, but as I painted them I thought of the old Northern Cross scroll text, "As a castle strong is built one stone at a time, so is the strength of our Prinicpality built by the labors of her people". That one always made me cry.
- Scroll 17: Whitework scroll from the Duke of Sussex Spanish Bible, Catalonia, Spain, 1350. This was originally one of the pages of Temple tools, found in most Jewish manuscript bibles from Spain; the center was filled with a huge ornate menorah and elaborate diaperwork. I just did the border (as usual). This was my first try using the period pigments from the Windhaven Scribal Guild; I used vermillion red and ultramarine blue. The gold is Japanese paint.
- Scroll 18: This is from elements in a page from Guillaume de Machaut's Remede de Fortune, showing "The Lover Contemplating his Lady" (here you see just the lady). The manuscript is French from around 1350 and uses a lot of grisaille (people and other things rendered in "black-and-white" or shades of tinted gray) and architectural drawings in riotous lack-of-perspective. This was a challenge in shading and modelling. Unfortunately the scan seems to have lost the shades of bluish-gray in the architecture and the lady's gown, but they did make it into the scroll blank itself! Painted in Fall 2006.
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Last modified: 4/29/07