Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Calligraphy, Vellum, and Vikings

I heard about an assignment, and in a very round about way put myself to the task of painting the AoA scroll for one of my best friends.  I had been among those who wrote her in, and when I heard it was being done I was ecstatic and fervently asked for the assignment. I was granted it and then set about doing the scroll.

I went a direction I haven't before with this one - I did the calligraphy (something I usually do not as my hand is, to me, very poor) as well as the illumination, and I did it on deer skin vellum from the Guild of Limners.

About the ink and paint:
I wanted to use period ink, and so I went looking and found lots of recipes. At the time I wasn't as deep into period materials as I wanted to be and so instead of using period ink I used what I had. This was done with black Speedball ink and a Speedball nib. There are many problems with this: one, the ink is very, very wet and the nib I used was not excellent at release. Should I use vellum again I will use period ink that is slightly thicker, and a Mitchell nib as they are better at releasing the ink in a more uniform way. I used Windsor-Newton gouache and Shell gold, both from cake instead of from tube. I use straight water as the agent and achieved the consistency of heavy cream before using the paints.

The ink, being far to wet, puckered on the vellum. There should have been far more definition in the letters than there is - as it is, I should have stopped and reassessed. I'm not sure I could have fixed it at that point or not, although I could have kept the nib a little drier and had to refill more often. That may have alleviated some of the problems. My paints were just the right consistency and went onto the vellum smoothly, and did not make it pucker. I'm happy with how the illumination turned out.

About the layout:
I went looking for period Viking/Norse artwork for, really, the first time seriously. Come to discover, there wasn't a lot in the layout I was familiar with (14th c/15th c French and English). Instead I found lots of artifacts, most with actual dates, some with a vague idea of a time period, some so outlandishly modern that it made my eyes hurt. I narrowed my search by sticking to museum sites, and found the Oseberg ship. The more useful images I found on Google, courtesy of Getty Images.

The actual ship is huge, and seeing as I was working with a 5x7 piece of deer skin I needed to modify the layout to accommodate a few words as well as the illumination. Having never worked on real vellum before, this was a lot to take on but I had a few things going for me - mostly that the piece was small (5x7 total sheet size, with a 1/2" border drawn for matting and framing) and that the piece was going to a very good friend of mine, Gudrun, who would understand any small blunders I made.  And I did, but that's ok too - it's period!  ;)

Ultimately I decided that the front and back of the vessel would work well, in the method of bookends, and connected them through the bottom of the ship. I free handed the knotwork on each and am happy with how both turned out. If I could, I would change how I handed the wood of the ship. I should have followed the actual ship and laid out planks, complete with the scroll work on each. As it is, I know Gudrun likes it and I am satisfied.

So I had written this entire post and was ready to put it up immediately after Investiture.... but couldn't as Gudrun was called out of town and wasn't there to be called into Court.  So I waited, and we all waited, and finally last weekend at our Baronial Thrown Weapons and Archery Champions our Baron and Baroness were able to bestow the AoA and scroll on behalf of their Majesties.  In a great stroke of luck, The Duke and Countess who were sitting Royals at Investiture were at our Championship, and so got to see the scroll presented as well.
Their Excellencies presenting Lady Gudrun

Thursday, August 27, 2015

An Award of Arms

I really love doing Award of Arms scrolls.  This is the first scroll people receive in the SCA, and it's often the one they think most fondly on - it's certainly one of their favorite stories to tell.

I've done a few of these over the years, and I try to make them all special, although that's not always possible when you don't know the person. Sometimes I just try a style that is new to me instead. 

Often I work very small - my scrolls when I started were no more than a 5x7 sheet of paper, making the scroll itself very small! I've gotten larger over the years. This one is 8x11. ;)  There is a little more space around the scroll itself than the image shows - I'm trying to get better about matting space... that's a particular trouble spot of mine.

I got to see this scroll awarded in court, although the gentle wasn't present to receive it.  Their Baron and Baroness graciously are going to carry it home and present it there in her home Barony - it was wonderful to meet someone who knows the person and can pass on to her my congratulations.

Monday, July 20, 2015

The tolls of emotions and the power of painting

My family is slowly losing a great woman - we're watching her slip each day, and it is harder than anything I've felt to this point in my life. That sort of pain, as many of my friends know, takes a toll on you. It weighs you down till you can do nothing but stop, and sit, and cry.

But, because I have (as we all have) obligations to keep, I (we) push on and do what it is we need to do. We go to work, we make dinner, we meet with our friends and we go to events we're scheduled to be at. We keep our mundane promises and we keep our SCA promises.

My SCA promises include painting scrolls and being present and active as our Barony's Chatelaine. Even while out of town these promises sat in my mind, reminders of things to do when I got home. I walked by my scribal instruments last night after a long day of flying and I smiled. Painting engulfs me, and I can forget for a short while everything else and just create. I can create something that will hang in someone's home, something they'll show their relatives and friends, something that will help them remember with pride an achievement they earned. That knowledge is a great motivator.

So that's what I'll be doing over the next few days - immersing myself in painting, letting the brush strokes help me deal with realities, and not crying on my work. ;)

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

There are times you get to see the presentation

Which, honestly, is not often these days. I have, in the past, painted only backlog scrolls and while I enjoy it a great deal, I don't get to see the look on the recipient's face when the scroll is presented in Court.

Recently I've started painting current assignment scrolls - I'm enjoying it more and more each day! While I was actually at Great Northeastern War, I wasn't able to get to Court (any of them actually) because of other schedule conflicts. I painted and did the calligraphy for an AoA - I'll admit, I love doing AoA scrolls.

Sometimes an AoA is the only award someone will get - it is, at least, the first scroll they'll get. I like to make them special - I know the tears in my own eyes when I noticed the thistles on my AoA scroll because the scribe knew me personally. I want the person I'm painting for to get that feeling too.

So, here are the images - the scroll I did for a very deserving Lady of Malagentia.
gouache and gold on bristol 

Her Majesty Etheldreda presenting the scroll to the populace, photo courtesy of Brendan Crane

Monday, March 30, 2015

Posted to the Kingdom page!

I am grateful to be included with such amazing artisans who came to our Majesties call for gifts to the Monarchs of Calontir.

The beautiful gifts can be found here: http://et.eastkingdom.org/artisans/ 

Vivat to the artisans of the East Kingdom!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Down time

Or the lack thereof.

I've been taking on an increasing number of projects, and happily - I'm very excited that I have the time and ability to paint more.  Previous to all this though, I'd have down time of a few weeks between projects.  I never had a queue before. Now I do.

It's a little weird, but I'm happy about it.  It means my skills stay sharp, which is awesome.  It also means that I have to pay more attention to my physical therapy... something my chiropractor is very happy about.

End result?  I'm painting more and it's great.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Gulf Wars map

Being finally able to put up images of the map, I'm very happy to show everyone the map that I finished for their Majesties Calontir.

It was a lot of fun - I grew up in St. Louis, and had I joined the SCA all those many years ago before I left the Mid West for the East Coast, I'd have been Calontir from the get go, instead of an Easterner.  It was great learning about Calontir, about the date they became a Kingdom and reading about the various Baronies and Shires that make up their Kingdom.

Thank you again to the organizers on behalf of their Majesties of the East for requesting this of me. I am glad to have helped with TRM war gifts.

Learning... ever, ever learning.

The last few months have been an amazing and mildly horrible time for me in regard to my painting.

Being told by your doctor that you have to cut down on the painting, and modify your brushes so the diameter you're gripping isn't so small is very difficult to hear.  It's even more difficult to do.  After a series of treatments, all ongoing, and some time, things are better and I'm able to paint for longer.  There are still difficulties, but they're not as disabling anymore.

I've also been learning more about my craft, about technique and the feedback has been positive.  Thank you to all those who have left me feedback, both positive and negative, on my work.  I really appreciate it.