What are the most helpful scribal books? The ones that strengthen most your scribal skills and knowledge. I have favorites to share.
Two grotesques from the Vaux Psalter, Lambeth Palace Library MS 233 f.15r. Glad you are back for another perplexing manuscript picture. It’s hard to believe these two grotesques are from the lovely Vaux Psalter. Just look at the left grotesque’s fearful dirty look. Dramatically amazing. But what is it? And why? Michael Camille in his book Image On The Edge calls it a […]
Jacques de Longuyon’s poem“Vows of the Peacock.”1350s Tooting butt trumpets, really? It’s amazing what you can find exploring Medieval illuminated manuscripts on the Internet. And this isn’t the only one. Medieval scribes worked long hours in cold rooms bent over their work. To entertain themselves bored and cranky Medieval scribes used the page’s margins to kvetch, adding ribald doodles that often commented on the text they were yet again copying. If this perplexing marginalia entertains you I recommend Michael Camille’s enlightening book Images on the Edge: The Margins of Medieval Art. It teaches about their comments on Medieval life and gives you a rare look at their way of thinking. Surfing the Internet for weird marginalia is fun. But Camille’s very readable book takes that beyond exploring to learning about the perplexing border pictures and the people that doodled them. Prior Related Post: You can see others in my series Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
Yesterday I was going through my books preparing for the coming Book Arts RUSH and found again my current published books on pigment history. They are both books about early art material production. These books interest me because Medieval artists or their staff made their own paints. Knowing that paint production history enhances your color use when recreating illumination art. These two books present you tantalizing background stories and trivia about the complete color creation processes. The first book is… Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay In this book, you read varied, interesting stories describing Finlay’s quest for the world’s historical pigments and dyes. Written as a travelogue through color history, her book takes you from Afghanistan to the Australian outback, to China’s ancient caves, and Spain’s saffron harvest. You read vivid stories, anecdotes, and adventures about the colors themselves. About Cleopatra’s saffron use for seduction. Historically expensive ultramarine blue production from lapis lazuli extracted from an Afghan mine. And how carmine red, still used today in lipstick, is made from the blood of insects. I liked Finlay’s book for its intriguing historical information, especially the extensive notes in the back. Unfortunately, I lost interest and only skimmed through her detailed personal travel descriptions. Instead, I jumped to the color fact chapters labeled by their names. Better yet is the next book I recommend … Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Color by Philip Ball This book tells you about western art history through the physical substances used to create color. […]
Link If you are like me and it’s expensive to get away from your home group you might try upping your activities there. That’s what I’ve done. I’m still doing my usual blogging and helping with kingdom events the Barony of the Lonely Tower hosts. There’s always one or ten handcraft projects to do. But my new passion is developing more fully my Jehanne Bening persona. About 2008 or so, I became Jehanne Bening from 15th-century Bruges after starting my SCA life as Siobhan le Blake from early 14th-century Galway, Ireland. I made the change because I couldn’t then find any female illuminators in Ireland. That’s about as far as I went with it until now. I’m so excited because I recently learned even my ancillary interest areas fit within that persona. There are records of women illuminators in Bruges guild logs. And a note of one living in the Beguinage there. That fits Jehanne. I found that information reading the tome Illuminating The Renaissance: The Triumph Of Flemish Manuscript Painting In Europe. Edited by Thomas Kren and Scot McKendrick and published by the Getty. This beautifully photographed catalog tells about the finest illuminated manuscripts created in Europe during the greatest era of Flemish illumination, the reign of the Burgundian duke Charles the Bold. It begins in 1467 and ends in 1561 with Simon Bening‘s death. Jehanne was born in 1439 and lives as many years as I do. To me, this is illuminations grandest epoch […]
When I had two peerage scrolls on my calendar I surveyed my C & I supplies for missing necessities. I ordered them on John Neal Bookseller’s website. I’m a sucker for books so I also looked for their’s on clearance. I found Enrich Your Calligraphy by Diana Hardy Wilson and decided to take a chance on it. Hardy’s book is not an introduction to calligraphy or a “how to” guide. It does not cover scripts or their ductus. It has a niche topic that stimulates and encourages scribes, graphic artists, and modern calligraphers to advance to their full potential. The book is filled with detailed inspiration about scribal topics including developing your creative process and visual awareness investigating spatial relationships developing and reviewing a reference collection I particularly like the information and encouragement on developing visual awareness. While Hardy writes for calligraphers the information on seeing details applies to illumination as well. Enrich Your Calligraphy is an easy to read book for the calligrapher who has more developing and exploring to accomplish, which is most of us. It’s a unique book for a devoted calligrapher or lover of lettering. Related Prior Post: How to Select a Calligraphy Guide Book
If you’ve looked at the stunning art in medieval manuscripts and wondered how they were made then the main book you need for learning illumination is The Illuminated Alphabet: An Inspirational Introduction to Creating Decorative Calligraphy by author Patricia Seligman and calligrapher Timothy Noad. As SCA scribes know, illumination is a unique craft with its own techniques. It is not watercolor or acrylics. It’s not even illustration. So ferreting out its methods is tricky. The Illuminated Alphabet is the best book to help you learn methods to re-create historic illuminated letters. The book begins with a brief illuminated letters’ history, describing artists creating them and their patrons. It then delves into basic illumination techniques and a materials’ list. paper and vellum brushes, pens, and pencils paints and inks including gouache, egg tempera, and watercolors gilding techniques such as the combination of gold leaf and gesso My favorite explorations in the book are Noad’s illuminated letter adaptations from period masterpieces. They cover five individual manuscript styles: Celtic Romanesque Gothic Renaissance Modern Revival Each style includes upper and lower-case letter designs, borders and decorations, materials used, gilding instructions and a gallery. The examples featured are: the Lindisfarne Gospels the Book of Kells Emperor Henry II’s Periscopes the Lincoln Psalms a Bestiary Lion Books of Hours Whitevine Lettering William Morris a Horoscope Initial The Illuminated Alphabet has detailed instructions for each project and how they were adapted from original sources by the book’s artist. Step-by-step photographs and instructions include tips on […]
Do you have Patricia Lovett’s book Calligraphy and Illumination…? I often refer to it. When I learned she published another book I went online cyber-Monday and bought myself a Christmas present. Her recent book The Art and History of Calligraphy, published last year by the British Library. Since the author is a British professional calligrapher and illuminator you won’t be surprised the book emphasized historic manuscripts’ lettering. Her first chapter shows the high-value of calligraphy shown in her book. There’s a chapter on historic manuscript production including quills, vellum brushes, pigments, and gold. And a section on how the letters are made. The last, most beautiful section traces writing through the ages. It features 50ish detailed pictures of lettering and manuscripts from the British Library’s outstanding collection. You’ll like the pictures of enlarged few lines showing the letters’ tiny elements. There are many photos without illumination, one of writing in shell gold ink on black dyed vellum. The book’s historic manuscripts include information or pictures on the Bosworth Psalter, the earliest surviving manuscript of the ‘New Hymnal’ from England the Lacock Cartulary with its wonderfully flourished letters a two-page spread picturing one page of the Luttrell Psalter. Lovett’s book doesn’t stop with the Italian Renaissance but continues modernly including recent renaissance-style calligraphic art by William Morris Shiela Waters “Roundel of the Seasons” a present-day work by Stephen Raw of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Light By Sunlights Glance” Lovett’s book clearly describes and photographs the artistic skill creating medieval manuscripts. I am very pleased with my cyber-Monday […]
Cyber-Monday is tomorrow, so I hope you see this in time. There’s also little for scribal illuminators at local bookstores. And nothing on history, gouache application, or medieval manuscript terminology. So shopping for these items Monday online is perfect timing. These are not new publications. There aren’t many current books in this category. But they are books I have and use to this day. So here’s my list: The Art of Calligraphy: A Practical Guide To The Skills And Techniques, by David Harris, Dorling Kindersley, New York, 1995. Creative Calligraphy: A Complete Course by Marie Lynskey, Thorsons Publishers Ltd., England, 1988. A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, by Christopher De Hamel, Phaidon Press, 1997. The Illuminated Alphabet, by Patricia Seligman and Timothy Noad, Running Press, London, 1994. Illumination for Calligraphers: The complete guide for the ambitious calligrapher, by Marie Lynskey, Thorsons, London, 1990. Medieval Calligraphy It’s History and Technique, by Marc Drogin, Dover Publications, New York, 1989. Medieval Illuminators and Their Methods of Work, by Jonathan J.G. Alexander. Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1992. Understanding Illuminated Manuscripts, A Guide To Technical Terms, by Michelle P. Brown. The J. Paul Getty Museum in association with The British Library, 1994. Related Prior Post: 6 Scribal Books For Your Cyber-Monday Shopping Holiday Scribal Gift Ideas
Yesterday I went to my favorite bookstore, Half Price Books. It’s so close to home, I’ve walked to it. I always check out their $2 sale section. This time I found something unique. BiblioCraft: A Modern Crafter’s Guide to Jumpstart Creative Projects, by Jessica Pigza. I bought it just for giggles, without looking it over. Was I surprised. As a SCAdian and a scribe, I’m well aware there’s amazing wealth in libraries. I thought I’d become an expert in searching them and online. This book’s author is a librarian and she beats my ability hands down. Pigza’s book tells how to develop projects based on library resources, just like we do in the SCA. It’s intended for all creatives whether hobbyist or professional, basicly anyone in the SCA. For us Part I may be the most important. In it Pigza tells how to find and use what libraries’ have to offer, online or in person. From the library’s branch, research, or special collections; to how to find the right library for you; to how to plan a library visit the proper way; and how to search. There’s amazing information there. Part II includes 20 projects inspired by library resources. While these projects are not historic recreations, the resource information within them is relevant. I was excited to read Pigza even includes stuff on illuminated manuscripts, penmanship, the history of type design, bookplates, decorative book bindings and the art of heraldry. Topics a scribe might […]
New Broecke Translation There’s a new English translation of Cennino d’Andrea Cennini’s “Il libro dell’ Arte, by Lara Broecke, a professional paintings conservator and artist. Amozon’s webpage intriguingly describes it as establishing: more precisely what Cennino actually wrote, by correcting more than 400 errors in Thompson’s text…In addition, the author’s most informative introduction places Cennino in context and accounts for the genesis of the libro dell’arte by r eference to the society in which it was produced. With all those errors some may explain the problems some have recreating Cennini’s recipes and techniques. While Broecke’s book is lauded as a “landmark text” for art history students and professionals it is just the kind of book many SCA scribes will drool over. And maybe for a long time because $90 for 248, 6.9 x 9.7 inch, pages is steep. Especially since Thompson’s 80-year-old version is cheap on Amazon and free on the web, although it takes effort to access on Notebook. Before you buy it, you may be interested in the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Work‘s extensive review. With my retirement budget, my option to read this book will be interlibrary loan from my local library.
I’ve collected numerous calligraphy manuals over the years, searching for tips and tricks to improve my lettering. As an SCA scribe, my book criteria differ from calligraphy books for modern works. Here are my preferences. Traditional Calligraphy Guides The book should focus on the nib-lettering technique I want to learn. For most of us in the SCA that is lettering […]
Hope you had a joyful friends and family filled Thanksgiving. I did. Now it’s on to Black Friday shopping, for me at my local Barnes and Noble. B&N is the only national book retailer in Omaha. Even so, it is limited to trending books. I took a look at its scribal related books, hoping for inspiration. Sadly it’s lacking. There is […]
Queen’s Prize in Calontir, September 2016 Checking out the calligraphy and illumination entries at Calontir’s recent Queen’s Prize Tournament I saw a copy of Claire Travers’ book Beginning Illumination. I was intrigued, so I ordered it. While only 80 9″x11″ pages, it is worth the reasonable $19.97 hardcover cost. Travers first introduces the reader to the materials and basic techniques. Then using photos she guides […]
I’ve been searching and collecting information for my Scribal Resources page. Recently I came across this large free book collection by David Myers. Rather than pillage his items individually, please, check The Art is Creation, Free* Artist Reference e-Books page yourself. The web page is a scribe and art history geek’s on-line library in one place. The books contain a humongous free information trove. Most available in Kindle format. No longer do you have to pay hard earned money for books or spend days at local college libraries gleaning information. (I described the research transition from library to online in a prior post.) Today, your access is easier. Take advantage of it.
I love reading. Back in the day, I carried a paperback everywhere, just in case I was called upon to wait. Now with an eReader and a smart-phone, I’m never without a book. And most of them are digital. Unless I am reading to learn something, I now prefer casual-books that keep me laughing. The best books for this are Jana DeLeon‘s Miss Fortune Mystery series that begins with Louisiana Longshot. I found this series a year ago and have read all eight. There are other’s who write about Miss Fortune, her friends and the town of Sinful, Louisana, but Jana DeLeon’s are by far the best. I’ve explored other humorous mystery writers as well, but none compare. I’m apparently not the only reader that adores DeLeon’s Sinful tales. The books have been picked up by Sony for a future TV series. And DeLeon is now listed as a best-selling author by both the New York Times and USA Today. I enjoy her writing so much I’m reading the Shaye Archer private investigator series that begins with Malevolent. While these are serious detective stories, DeLeon’s well developed, personable characters carry the book easily through its tortuous, twisting plot. I will continue reading the Shaye Archer series, but I can’t wait for the next Miss Fortune mystery to come out. I hope the TV contract doesn’t signal the series end, but a new beginning for the author.
Wandering through my local 1/2 Price Books I came across the The Art Of Teaching Craft: A Complete Handbook by Joyce Spencer and Deborah Kneen. Written in 1995 it is just what I’d been searching for to help me prepare for my calligraphy and illumination classes. It is a practical guide to teaching small to medium classes, in your own home, your studio or at another venue. It details how to set up your space, plan your class, provide teaching aids and keep records. The authors also include multiple check-lists to summarize each section. I find it’s very useful for lesson plans. Written in 1995 for those living in Australia, it still applies to teaching crafts in the U.S. today. Although if you are starting a business you would want to confer with a lawyer on legal things. An easy to read book and well thought out. However, I would love to see it updated. One that would include the use of internet media such as Pinterest, Facebook, eVite and Google Doc, Sheets, Slides and Forms. So much has changed in internet media that are useful for small group teaching, but may be unknown to some.
I’m reading this book on writing well. It’s a guide to writing nonfiction. And that’s almost its title. I’ve written so many SCA handouts and competition documentations I forgot writing nonfiction was fun. William Zinsser’s book, while on writing basics, is amusing and shrewd. I’ve changed my style because of it. I’m throwing out adverbs (when I recognize them) and abridging things. I’m rewriting earlier posts for practice. It’s fun seeing the flow and feeling become graceful. Although my dogs think I’m crazy, I say out loud everything I write before I push the publish button. A journalist and teacher, Zinsser sometimes breaks rules. Like his thoughts on contractions, Your style will be warmer and truer to your personality if you use contractions like “I’ll” and “won’t” and “can’t” when they fit comfortably into your writing…There’s no rule against such informality–trust your ear and instincts. And the on valued untouchable initial word “but” he writes, Many of us were taught that no sentence should begin with ‘but.’ If that is what you learned, unlearn it–there’s no stronger word at the start. It announces total contrast with what has gone before, and the reader is therefore primed for the change. I relish the humor he spreads on each page. Like when he describes the difference between “that” and “which”. Anybody who tries to explain “that” and “which” in less than an hour is asking for trouble. Or his comment about […]
I love books, which is why my favorite bookstore closing was such a big deal. I buy books or borrow them from everywhere. Books and research are part of the SCA‘s attraction to me. Bookstore Search When I first joined the SCA, 26 years ago, I spent hours at the library each week. Then took a stack off books home. […]