Another group of budding illuminators gathered at my studio to learn how to cut quills, make and lay gesso, treat vellum for painting, and the craft processes of the mediæval illuminator. I am always delighted when a random group of people get on so well – perhaps it’s that all those who want to learn these skills are so nice!
Everything was ready for their arrival as I supply all the tools and materials, so students need to bring nothing but a pen and notebook (no expensive outlay if participants decide that it’s not for them, but how could they not?). As well as teaching the skills and techniques, I always try to instil elements of best practice and ways of working in my classes so tools and materials are placed carefully around the work station, and also care of tools and preparation and use of materials are explained as the class progresses.
Here is a beautiful white horse from a student who declared that she was ‘definitely not an artist’! Yet look at those fantastic fine white lines and the decorated border!
This student decided to tackle a large and complicated image. The burnish on the gold and smoothness of gesso is great, but she wasn’t able to finish in the time the three-day course allowed. This does give some indication of how long a miniature like this would take to complete, as there were no stops for chats!
And here is the image complete. What a great achievement! Certainly something to frame and put on the wall! And look how that gold shine.
Here a rather blue ram (as in the original) which has the most impressive woolly coat! The expression on the face is particularly good as well as the fine lines depicting the wool and the white hairlines.
These little ducks or geese (we weren’t quite sure in the original!) are surrounded by a very well laid, smooth gesso which has been beautifully gilded – I haven’t quite captured the shine in this photograph.
And this is a very proud peacock with its colourful tail which is well matched by gold leaf on gesso everywhere in the background! The advantage of copying and making the miniature your own is that you can take liberties like this!
Miniatures from bestiaries are not always quite what students want, so this white hart was from a couple of paintings, the hunters with spears were omitted, an extra tree inserted, and the hart made white not brown. The brilliant shine on the gold is evident in this image.
The chameleon is certainly multi-coloured, and has a cute little owl sitting on a tree noticing everything. The gesso is well laid here and has a good depth of burnish with very fine painting.
And these three little hares are chasing one another’s tails, with very fine lines, particularly the white ones in the patterned border.
The next course will be in 2019, and subscribers to my free online monthly newsletter will received the dates first and have priority booking.