Wednesday, February 27, 2013

First Attempt At Illumination

This week I finished my first try at illumination.The experience reminded me of painting on sugar plate, but the colours are much bolder.

A Dragon from a Bestiary c. 1270 (Therouanne?)
JPGM, Ms. Ludwig XV 3, folio 89
p. 90, 'Beasts' by Elizabeth Morrison, 2007, J Paul Getty Trust

I found the experience to be very enjoyable, and I learned a lot from my first attempt.
* Medieval scribes must have been very patient people with an enormous skill base, tons of patience and steady hands.
* You should not get overexcited and try to rush this type of work. (I know this from embroidery, but I'll admit that I did get overexcited and rush it!)
* Doing scribal work at the kitchen table in a busy household during the afternoon/tea time rush is not ideal.
* I need a finer paintbrush.

I used Winsor and Newton Designers Gouache as recommended by the Lochac Scribes (   and

I am still enthusiastic, and plan to continue practicing in my sketchbook. I love the fact that you can get such a bold and dramatic effect relatively quickly; well, compared to embroidery, anyway. I chose this particular picture because it looks like the original artist used a paintbrush to draw the black lines, and I thought that would be very good practice for me. (Plus, I liked the dragon.) I have a lot of trouble with shaky hands, but I am reasonably happy with how the lines turned out. Learning how to load the brush with an appropriate amount of paint is another thing that I need to learn.

My introduction to the scribal arts has been the very talented Honorable Lady Katerina da Brescia of the Purple Files. You can see some of her work here:


  1. Quite nice! I find that having a collection of fine brushes is important. I prefer spotters to liners as I tend to work in smaller strokes, and don't want the extra length of the bristles to get out of control and in my way, course this means I have to reload the paint more often. Having one good 0000, 00, and 0 in your arsenal pretty much covers all bases. Keep a gentle hand, and a larger brush can often fill in. Welcome to the awesome world of illumination! <3

  2. Thankyou, and thanks for the great advice. I am definitely enamoured with the world of illumination!