I went along as a day tripper to the Scriptorium and Fencing Camp hosted by Dun In Mara in April to attend the illumination and calligraphy classes given by Mistress Melisende Fitzwalter. It reminded me what an absorbing and peaceful thing working on illuminated pieces actually is, and on the day I ended up concentrating on that. The event was wonderfully relaxing with really enjoyable conversation and company, and I was very pleased to see my chosen project take shape over the day. I am itching to try some gilding, but I need to get a kit. Since it’s a good idea to gild before painting, this piece will have to be finished off with liquid gold but I’ll hopefully try it out on another piece soon.
It’s amazing the difference little things make, for example in the class I learned to dilute gouache paint far, far more than I had been doing at home. It’s wonderful to see the colour loop and curl into the highlighted swirls the liquid naturally produces instead of the stop/start uncertainty of too thick and badly applied paint. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a far cry from being able to produce the clean lines I want, but at least I understand it better now. The class on fabric folds was fantastic, such outstanding effects can be produced from just a couple of lines! I have copied fabric folds before, but seeing how to easily create the folds should reduce the time it was taking me to simulate the shading in the future – just as I had been having problems seeing the simple shapes clothes are constructed from it has been an eye opener to see how simple some of the complex effects actually break down to be.
Today I decided to have another go at another project, to get some practice in. I wanted to try my hand at a decorative frame, without any text. The best layout for a scroll (for example) should really involve knowing what text is to be written on the page, including what to emphasise etc and completing that first, then designing your illuminated features around the text. Since I was only messing about I just sketched a frame. I’m pretty happy with it, warts and all – I can see I need to practice getting a more even hand when painting longer straight (ish) lines and I made the mistake of painting pale paint over the preliminary pencil sketches I made which doesn’t look great but some bits turned out really nicely and I had a very contented evening working on it.