Colour in the pen

CIMG2478Some people think that calligraphy is essentially black writing with perhaps a touch of red. How limiting! Calligraphy can be any and every colour. One way of using colour that I really like is where the pen actually mixes the colour, as on the right. It’s not one line one colour and one line another, but two colours which are mixed, somewhat randomly, as you write.

 

 

 

CIMG2469It is a good idea to choose two colours which have greater contrast than the two in the piece above, but the extract was about water and fishing, so to echo that I chose a bluey-green and a greeny-blue. The text was Welsh with an English translation. So, to start I wrote  out the text in differing styles and heights of letters; after experimenting I decided on Italic for the Welsh and tiny dancing capitals for the English. I had a smallish piece of vellum so I didn’t want to use a large nib. I chose a Mitchell/Manuscript size 5 for both styles of writing, and a size 6 for the title and dedication line to be positioned at the bottom, and then wrote out the words

CIMG2471The lines were of very varied lengths, so a right or left alignment would leave a rather ragged edge. I decided on a centred arrangement after a bit of experimentation. I cut up the lines, measured each one and marked the centre point then placed them on another piece of paper to see how it would look, and where the title and dedication line should be positioned.

 

CIMG2473Once all the decisions had been made, I prepared the vellum (see my Illumination DVD and Illumination: Gold and Colour book here), ruled the lines and mixed up the paint. Writing with two colours in the pen is not quite as hit-and-miss as it may seem at first. With this process individual letters usually consist of more than one colour, and if this doesn’t come out of the pen then it needs to be ‘engineered’. The Calligraphy Clip (see below) shows how to do this. The pen isn’t filled as is usual, but one colour just ‘tipped’ on to the underneath of the pen with a brush, As each stroke is written, the colours in the previous letters and also the ones above need to be taken into account to ensure an overall even effect – not too much of one colour, not too much of the other, and not too much of the mix. Sometimes it’s necessary to go over some strokes with a different colour to ensure this. It certainly doesn’t encourage rhythm and flow, but can be most effective. I find it very appropriate for when I’m asked to write out pieces for weddings or anniversaries; each colour represents one person and the mix of colours suggests their lives together.

CIMG2625This piece has more contrast in the colours, as they are vermilion and ultramarine.

 

 

 

 

IMG_0039This Calligraphy Clip explains how to use two colours in the pen and demonstrates the process, and some of the pitfalls.

Illumination – Gold and Colour

FullSizeRenderIt is always a great relief when a book is published and rough drafts that have been worked on for so many months or even years all come to fruition. This is exactly how I feel about my latest book – Illumination: Gold and Colour. This is just about everything I know about using metallic pigments, powders and leaves, colour, the traditional materials of vellum and parchment, as well as quills, gesso and egg tempera painting along the way.

Screen Shot 2015-10-18 at 15.44.51The book, with a preface by Professor Michelle Brown, has 162 pages, is lavishly illustrated, and costs £15 + p+p. Here is a sneaky peak inside.

It is available from my website here; I shall be delighted to write a name calligraphically in each copy. To buy the book please contact me and I’ll send you details of how to pay, and how much the postage will be. I don’t use Paypal nor take credit/debit cards, so if you would prefer to pay in this way, then L Cornelissen and Son are also selling the book (in this case I won’t be able to write in a name). Contact them here. The book complements my Illumination DVD.

Illmn 4Chapters include a brief history of manuscript production, tools, materials, techniques and projects. I felt it very important to include projects which are very simple and cheap to do (gold leaf is expensive!). So there are lots of ideas for making simple items with cheap gold and colour which even children could do.

Illmn 5There are also step-by-step ‘instruction boxes’ which make it easy to find out how to do various processes, but also ‘ingredients’ lists and numbered steps to follow them through. These are coloured and boxed so they are clear to see and find in the book.

Illmn 1Of course, it wouldn’t be a book about Illumination if vellum, parchment and quills weren’t throroughly explained and considered. So the differences between parchment and vellum are explained, how to prepare skin for writing and painting is here, how to stretch vellum over board in easy step-by-step stages is also covered, so are curing and cutting feathers into quills, and how to prepare pigments and mix them for egg tempera painting.

Illmn 2The projects include simple and easy, those more complicated such as writing on vellum with colour and shell gold, right up to mediæval miniature gilding and painting, and also how to plan and make a presentation scroll on vellum using traditional skills which is based on an actual commission.

Illmn 6The book finishes with a chapter on pigments which were used in mediæval manuscripts.