Friday, December 10, 2010

Sculpture and Illuminated Letters

I hated the hand lettering and graphic desing classes in college. It was all about an impossible perfection that computer fonts soon "rendered" obsolete.

Christmas wrapping paper with nice illuminated letters.

Chinese prayer paper works well because it's cheap, small scale and makes a nice present.
Hand lettering has come back to haunt me. I'm still practicing painting letters by hand. But now it's fun because I use it to practice both letter forms and an endless vine pattern. I see the vine pattern in Florentine papers, on old buildings. It's beautiful and deceptively difficult. All too easy to turn into a bramble vine smothering the letter.
 I used the C from the Christmas paper as inspiration for the ornament. Here's a case where the vines got out of control. Frustrating, but once it died I began to loosen up and experiment.  With this gold foil card stock paper I realized I could use stamping as addition texture, see lower left above.

Here's the finished birthday card for Christine. I like how the blue outline makes the red C pop. The foliage is ok but I've got a long way to go before it grows naturally. Anyone else haunted by these vines and their endless patterns?


Mark D. Ruffner said...

I love illuminated initials, too, in fact I wonder sometimes if I had another life in a scriptorium. I particularly like the combination of brilliant blue and red on the gold, and of course you've chosen the three colors that would have been the three most expensive in any medieval painting! ... Mark

Theresa Cheek said...

You are a genius! I bought a handful of prayer papers when visiting San Francisco....I had other plans for them, but now I am dying to practice a little illumination. You are brilliant! (One little trick, when painting on gold leaf, place your design over the leaf and draw over it with a pencil, the lines will show in the soft leaf and you now have a template!)

Patrick Gracewood said...

A past life as a scribe / monk was way upscale for the middle ages. I was probably one cubicle down, sweating over the same dang letters.

Regarding pigments, gold was real gold leaf, the good blue was lapis, what mineral or ? gave a good red?
I can't wait to see what you do with your paper. It's so satisfying to have a small scale project that I can finish in one sitting.
My design IS my drawing. I want to be able to simply draw good letters as easily as I draw other things. So instead of a stencil form - which will always need to be a different size than whatever I'm working on, I'll just draw and redraw the letterforms until they come naturally.

Karin Corbin said...

It would be appreciated if you changed your blog settings so it showed the photos in the reader services.

Changing that setting will also generate more viewings of your blog.


Patrick Gracewood said...

Karin, I'd be happy to change things if you would tell me where and how...
I have no idea what you're referring to. Help?

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Hi, Patrick,

The red that was used for better illuminations came from cinnabar, from Asia. It, like the lapis blue, was vastly expensive.

Several years ago I had the pleasure of visiting San Marco, the monastery in Florence where Fra Angelico lived and worked. He painted a mural in the cell of each brother, and these are all in wonderful, rich earthy colors. One then views his commissions for the church, and in these, all the focal points are blue and red (and of course ... gold).