Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 6

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.

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Two Inticing Paint Color History Books Reviewed

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. […]

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Why I’m Thrilled With My New Found Interest – Finding Jehanne

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 […]

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Enrich Your Calligraphy, Book Review

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

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The Best "How-to" Decorative Letters 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 […]

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The Art and History of Calligraphy, Book Review

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 […]

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8 Scribal Books For Cyber-Monday Ordering

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

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Unique Bibliocraft Book Find

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 […]

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New English Translation of Cennini

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. 

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