It can be quite daunting signing up for a course which for many involves completely new techniques and tools. Most people haven’t picked up a paintbrush or dealt with paint since schooldays, and the thought of painting a mediæval miniature may be very tempting, but what if everyone else on the course is a trained artist? The British Library one-day Illumination Masterclass course is geared to allay all fears (at least most of them!). Much of painting in the style of mediæval miniatures is technique, and this is what I teach. These are the results of the course held in August 2023.
Everything is provided for each participant, no-one has to bring anything. It takes quite some time to prepare everything beforehand, and also a considerable time to set up for the course on the day. Here are the wet and dry boxes (those on my courses will know all about these!).
To allay any fears about not being creative, to avoid too complex an image for one day, and to use the time as effectively as possible, bestiary animals from manuscripts held at the British Library are chosen, and even these are selected to be ones that aren’t too complicated. Tracings are made which are transferred to treated vellum. The outlines are then reinforced with paint as here.
Instructions are given on dealing with gouache paint, using brushes, and how to paint using fine sable brushes. Here the pigment is being tested with a mixing brush to ensure that the very dilute consistency to paint the outline is correct, and also that the brush is held at the right angle to make the very fine strokes.
Then a modern adhesive is applied. There is not enough time in one day to use traditional gesso which raises the gold from the surface so that it shines brightly, and also creates a smooth surface to achieve a brilliant burnish. Anything other than gesso won’t have the effect of gold as in manuscripts, but it can still be stunning! Here the adhesive has been applied.
Comments from participants on this course:
Fantastic! Well structured and most enjoyable.
Such an enjoyable day, it’s amazing what can be done in a day due very much to the preparation and expertise Patricia brings.
Wonderful day and a very good and welcoming tutor.
Patricia is a great and supportive instructor. I look forward to taking more classes with her.
Humour, even steady pace, clear instruction, perfect level of detail, and fantastic tuition.
Most enjoyable and informative. Never thought I would produce such illumination in such a short time.
Very well pitched (in my view) to meet the requirements of novices and more experienced participants from a range of backgrounds. Loved the technical information.
Really enjoyed it! It was especially detailed with supplementary information which I liked.
It was very well planned and instruction and teaching were well summed up and delivered. I am going to return and learn more. Thank you Patricia.
It was very interesting and informative; I thoroughly enjoyed the day!
Well organised course. We didn’t bring anything to the course, which is great, everything is provided. Big thank you to Patricia.
(The only negative comments were to do with the arrangement of tables and movement round the room, which we realised as soon as the participants came in, and will be resolved for future courses, and the lighting in the room; it is suggested that if this is a potential problem, then participants may like to bring an illuminated magnifying glass with them.)