Blank borders - the illumination only scroll part - are used when Their Majesties give a spontaneous award. But did you know there's a historical precedent for them?
Presenting my painted set of Calontir's entry level awards and a bit on how they're created.
What's in manuscript illumination details? How do you create them? Find out how to increase your scribal detailing skills.
Scribal skill improvement comes with experience over time. There are ways to gain experience without a deadline.
Heraldic art is valuable for scroll creation and the best way to personalize an award scroll.
You find emojis, computer icons, road signs, logos, and emblems everywhere. They’re a useful eye-catching shorthand for small spaces. And were used in history the same way. Using these time-tested patterns on a scroll inspires the recipient or any viewer really. Symbols like eyes, hearts, hands, arrows, circles still evoke grand meaning. They add depth and detail for the viewer giving language to your art. It puts the zing in your art thing. But when you use a symbol on a scroll today you want to consider its many meanings. What it meant back then and what it means today. Even what it meant to the recipient’s persona and culture. Cute things like rabbits weren’t just furry animals they were fertility symbols. There’re other questions to answer, too. Does the symbol have a unique or specific meaning in the SCA? What message does it send intentionally or unintentionally? And -unfortunately – you also want to know whether that pattern has been taken up by any modern-day bad actors. Manesse Codex pages work well with symbols. In this one the fighter’s heraldic arms on the horse tell you Matthieu Chartrain is the one kneeling and swearing fealty. The red and black color of the lady’s cote hint she is related somehow to the Barony of the Lonely Tower. She is Honnoree de Saussay, famously known for loving peafowl. They’re even on her arms. Besides the peacock in the tree the other […]
In Calontir, the SCA area where I live, you sometimes get into painting awards at an event. They are predesigned and painted like a coloring book. We call them “preprints”. Some kingdom’s call them “charters”. I’ve seen people take a few home from the scribe’s table to do later and that’s terrific. Each reign creates new ones so they need all they can get. Sadly, when they’re returned a few are unusable. They may be neat and carefully done but the creator didn’t use an acceptable colorant. Here’s a list of colorants you want to avoid – blacklist – when you do them at home. And why. Acrylic-based paints crack and flake off your paper. Even those labeled “gouache” don’t last well. Chalks smear and rub off on things. Oil-based paints, like Testors model paint, seep through the paper and come out on the back. Colored pencils don’t give the award a “period look”. Craft paints are just acrylic paints. They don’t work either. Crayons look as if your 8-year-old did it. Latex-based paints layer too thickly causing them to crack and flake too. Magic markers fade over time. They also don’t give that “period look” thing. Pastels, like their cousin chalk, smear and rub off, too. Take home paint dabs and tube paints. That leaves you water-based paints such as gouache and watercolor. Even a few of those don’t work well on preprints. Grade-school tempras and watercolors are water-based […]
With western art books and resources being mostly produced by white people they tend to assume the white European as a human standard. And in Western European illuminated manuscripts there is a dearth of people of color. But they do exist. And all ethnicities are welcomed into the SCA. Dijon – BM – ms._0562 f. 181Vcreated around 1260-1270 representing the Holy Land So how do you create an award scroll for a non-White friend with people that look like them? Or maybe your scroll recipient has assumed a Saracen persona. How do you create a scroll creating accurate historic art combat scenes? You seek out original works. There are a few Western European illuminated manuscript pages including people of color. But they may be inappropriate to use such as this one portraying people in the Holy Land created in the late 13th century. Some 13th -15th century popular French illuminated manuscripts feature Christian-Muslim interaction pictures such as the British Library’s Histoire d’Outremer. And various copies of the Grandes Chroniques de France and the Roman d’Alexandre en Prose. But the best place to search is the website MedievalPOC. It is a blog showcasing European works of art featuring people of color from the fall of the Roman Empire until about 1650. Often these works go unseen elsewhere and you might see them differently now viewing them from a fresh perspective. The blog is searchable and even gives you a guide to its use. If you search digitized manuscripts you’ll see the […]
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 […]
British Library Additional 14761 f. 30v c. 1340 Spain, N. E., Catalonia (Barcelona) I was surfing the British Library’s manuscript collection again for possible pictures to use on a scroll and noticed the cute bunnies in the manuscripts. Especially in the 14th century. So many, they weirdly multiplied like rabbits. But another thing you’ll notice is how peculiarly violent some are. Beyond […]
Cambrai Channsonier, MS. 126B fol. 132v, Bruges 1542 Bibliothèque Municipale, When you look through this 16th-century songbook made for a Bruges aristocrat you see it’s filled with artistic, decorative daily life images. But it also includes many that are bluntly bizarre or crazy. It’s the Cambrai Chansonnier, MS 0128 dated 1543. Its fun pictures are delicately drawn in pen and ink then enhanced with color washes. I love the clever images you see worked through a music staff. And those useing the staff lines as a panorama picture frame. While it’s decorative versals may be creative floral combinations, many you see are just weird, like this anthropomorphic versal. I get the scribe created the unique posture to make a capital “A”. But why dream up the weird behavior? And this is one of the kinder weird images. Some are too inappropriate for even my blog. If you’re curious have a look. There are so many images to recreate you can be selective. Consider the intended recipient’s values and your pictures purpose. Above all have fun, because the original artist did. Or the perplexing images wouldn’t have been created. Related Prior Post:You can see others in my series Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts: 1, 2, 3.
Link to image. When you look through this 13th-century manuscript made for the Pope you see it’s filled with giant killer bunnies, geese lynching wolves, and other crazy things. They are cute, silly, or a comment on Medieval daily life. But not all. This one pictures a dog hanging by its neck from a tree. The rabbit with his paw to his mouth casually shushes the dog. Even if the rabbit was a human why would ‘he” do that? Perplexing. And there’s more. The woman over the tree is looking into her mirror, a sign her looks are most important. The mirror shows she’s vane. Vanity is prideful and “Pride” was one of the 7 Deadly Sins.So not exactly things you want to put on a scroll. What would they tell the recipient? They’re mean or hate dogs. Lack respect. Think highly of their looks. There are cuter, sillier bas-de-page illuminations you can use in the Royal 10 E IV. There’s also weirder ones, too. You’ll find them in the manuscript’s perplexing details. Related Prior Post: Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 1Perplexing Pictures In Manuscripts 2
One of the easiest ways you can embellish a scroll is to add diapering. Diapering is the geometric checker-board pattern you see in illuminated manuscripts. It adds dramatic visual interest and fills the vacuum medieval art abhorred. Link to image. Link to image. You may see them include gold leaf or without it. Link to image. Link to image; You may even find it decorating a grotesque animal or clothing article. Diapering isn’t difficult. You can make it simple or complex, whichever you want. The more complex patterns are easily created when worked in steps. It’s all based on a supporting grid, even if it’s invisible. You first construct a grid then systematically insert your chosen colors or patterns. Quality diapering is determined by evenly distributed grid lines. While you want an accurate grid I think extreme precision detracts from a medieval feel. You don’t want it to be vector-graphic perfect. With every diaper pattern, you begin with a grid. If you want you could generate one on Incomptech and trace it using your light-pad. I use a ruler and a 4H pencil, and evenly measure each side of my chosen space and make marks. I then connect opposing dots. If you want your lines visible go over them with ink then erase your pencil lines. This first diapering pattern was done into the late 14th century. It is the less complex one I’m sharing. It’s also easily modified using other shapes and patterns. You begin […]
14th century (1349-1351) Austria – Lilienfeld Cod. 151: Concordantiae caritatis fol. 244v There is no reason you’d want to include a prejudicial illumination like this in SCA art. But why? What do you see? This 14th-century illumination shows a man wearing a Jews hat having sex, then being mortally stabbed for it. But there’s more that’s perplexing. What’s up with his pointy hat? The tall unique hat […]
“Banquet With Courtesans In A Hostel” ca. 1455 – BNF, Paris Does this fun picture remind you of an SCA post revel? Music, food, and merry-making, but in Medieval clothing. Look again. What’s really going on? You see the musician, but one guy’s up-chucking and another’s getting handsy with a woman. The title divulges they’re cavorting with courtesans. I have a friend with a courtesan persona. Even so, I’ve never seen her act like this. Or any of my other SCA friends. At least not publicly. The SCA is a fun way to observe, learn, and recreate the Middle Ages honorable ideals. It’s perplexing when you find pictures showing it otherwise.When you find a manuscript picture like this be careful if you recreate it. What you do with it makes a difference. Consider who will see it and the format in which you place it. It might be a fun stand-alone picture for the right person, but I wouldn’t recreate it for a competition. If I saw it in an event flier it would turn me off toward the event. And the negative things this miniature implies are definitely not appropriate for an SCA Monarch’s legal document, a scroll. If you find a perplexing picture in a manuscript others will see it that way too. Let that be your cue to be cautious with how you use its recreation.
M. Rolf Hobart’s blank border entries at the Barony of Mag Mor’s 2017 Cattle Raids. At last falls Cattle Raids event in the Barony of Mag Mor, I was asked by a passing RUSH student, “What are those?” as he pointed to the blank scrolls’ displayed. I admit they might look a bit lost to the scribal-less-aware. So, what are they? […]
Baronial Preprint Looking back over my posts I realize I haven’t told you about painting AOA award scrolls. Oops. Whether your Kingdom calls them “preprints” or “charters” they are a great way to learn illumination. And as you’re learning you’re doing a priceless service for your Kingdom or Barony. Monarchs of any SCA kingdom need hordes of preprint scrolls to […]
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 […]
Today’s scribes learning to paint Calontir’s preprints often start with a Reeves gouache set for their paints. They’re an inexpensive student grade non-acrylic paint that does well for painting entry-level awards. What do you do when you use up your first paint, usually white? What is the best white gouache to buy?” In gouache, there are several whites: chalk white, zinc […]
British Library Border Clipping Acanthus leaf from my handout “Acanthus Leaves: Drawing and Painting” I love Acanthus leaves in art. They are an ornament that resembles leaves from the Mediterranean Acanthus plants. They have deeply cut leaves similar to thistles. I like Acanthus leaves because they are a curvy, variable decoration I can use in most any art medium or era. In scribal illumination, Acanthus leaves add color, visual movement and design contrast to large text blocks. They also enhance large decorated display initials or a heraldic device. There are several general Acanthus leaf styles from the broader leaf with ends that flip over to narrower forms without flips and in between. The Göttingen Model Book, a 15th-century workshop instruction manual, provides fascinating insight into how some period scribes drew and painted their leaves. British Library Harley 3490 f. 13v You can create Acanthus leaves that are simple as in my above picture or add details such as dots along the vein and color modeling to enhance dimension. Whatever you like. It’s a scroll ornament that lets you be creative. Related Prior Post: The Making of an SCA Scroll, Part 2 External Link: Acanthus Leaves: Drawing and Painting