Archive for the Category » C_and_I «

Gold and Black

I decided not to gild the gold – but to use gold gouache instead. I thought it’d fit better with the watercolour, which is fairly light in density.
I’m doing the black in gouache. I don’t know what that is on the black on the right – something to do with the camera?


I first did a trial on a photocopy, to work out the placement of the colours.
The plain yellow is where the gold is going to go.
And then I did it for real :
You can’t see it, but I’ve drawn a 1.5mm margin around the letters that sit inside the rectangle.
All the background within the rectangle will be painted black, to make the colours really ‘pop’. Hence the margin – otherwise I’d loose those curved lines with circles at the end into the background.
I’ve made one mistake – on the K – on the left where it’s red/yellow, it should be red/yellow extending into the blue/purple for the rest of that scrolly bit, not blue/purple.
I’ve tried my trusty elastic rubber, and lifting with clean water, but it’s not budging. I reckon the watercolour pencils have staining qualities on the paper. Better not to fuss and leave it as it is.


Her’s where I take a break from the sampler to do a long overdue birthday present. (It’s gotten embarassing)
It’s for my friend Nick.
I did an “N” for him at
and so the joke is that I could really just do I, C,K, and he’d have his complete name.
But I’m not going to do that to him, but I am calling it the “ICK Project”.
It’s based on Jan Pickett’s Decorated Initials –
such as the S, the two K’s and the V shown.
This is my design “
The I, C and K are copied from Jan’s work. The N is too, but I modified it a bit because it was from a different ‘set’.

The idea is to use watercolour pencils. You choose two sets of 2. With each two, you blend them together in the different sections of each letter. (It’s easier to see than explain). The second K (in greens and blues) on Jan Pickett’s page shows what I’m talking about.
I’ll also be popping some gilding on some letter “sections”
I’ve never used watercolour pencils before, so it should be fun!

Colour Mixing – Yellow Acanthus

I’ve painted up an acanthus using the two different yellows.

The lemon yellow is a little bit muddy as well. *sigh*. Just a wee bit. The interim colour isn’t as bright as I want it to be. I’ll have to have a play with all the orange-yellows I have to find the one that mixes the best with the geranium.

Mixing Colours – Yellows

When I paint, I physically mix the paints on the page. It’s just the way it feels natural for me to paint.

However, the colours that are mixed have to be compatible. The mix needs to form a new, inbetween colour – as opposed to ‘mud’.

“Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green” by Michael Wilcox is a great book about how not to make ‘mud’.

This is the colour bias wheel he uses :-

And I’ve been doing something wrong.

I’ve been using cadmium yellow to mix with both my red (geranium) and green (chrome green).

It’s a green-yellow, so it mixes nicely with the chrome green, but produces a yukky colour when mixed with the red. I needed another yellow that was biased towards the orange/red side of the wheel to mix with the red, rather than the green-yellow (cadmium yellow) that I’ve been using.

I was lifting the mix (mud) from the page on the red bits, realizing that I needed this other yellow. I got around to looking at this this morning.

I’ve added in an orange-yellow, which mixes nicely with the red (geranium) to produce a good orange/interim colour, rather than the mud I was getting.
Of course, when this orange-yellow is mixed with the green, it produces mud.

The orange-yellow I’ve used is Lemon Yellow.
The green-yellow I’ve used is Cadmium Yellow.

I’ve mixed each of the yellow with the red, and with the green to record the differences.

The way it looks on the screen, the colour mix of both the cadmium yellow and the lemon yellow with the chrome green look kind of muddy – but in real life, the cadmium yellow mixes nicely, and the lemon yellow produces mud.

The issue is illustrated more clearly with the mixes with the red.

The other mixes I do (with blue – ultramarine, and pink – azilirin tint) aren’t a problem, coz they are with white.

In the Forest – Painting

Last time I wrote, which was awhile ago, I’d done the writing for real, and just ruled the lines in the text block. Since then, I’ve had my head down, painting.

Ruling the lines for the text block is scary. There are the left and right margins, and the ascender/descender lines that are to be ruled in pen. The waistlines just get rubbed out, and the text ends up looking like it’s floating.

Not something you want to make a mistake with. A crooked line takes a lot of gentle correction with a scalpel, rubber and burnisher. Or ruling the wrong line in ink. Thankfully, I didn’t.

I used a Uniball pen. I want to learn to use a ruling pen one day.

Then gilding.
After giving up on what on earth the amber crystals I had – that I thought were gum ammoniac – were, I went for Will’s Quills gilding mix. It’s a PVA based mix.
I used transfer gold with it.
I found the edges were very ragged, and found a note in Elyse Boucher’s website notes that this did happen with transfer gold. I neatened/pushed them back with a pencil point burnisher.

The raggedness can be seen in the photos – I haven’t done any neatening around the illuminated letter at the top left, for example.

I also realized the importance of keeping the writing within that final right hand side margin. I’ve crossed it a little twice – and had to leave a little white space in the gilding of the border so I didn’t cover the letters. ooops. I’d loose marks for that if it were being marked!

I did the gilding in sections – laying down some base, letting it dry, another coat, then gilding it, whilst other sections had a coat or two, or were drying. I haven’t neatened and burnished all of it yet.

Then onto the painting. (yay!)

blue – light ultramarine blue
dark blue – ultramarine blue

red – light cadmium
dark red – carnation (transparent, a stainer, but a good colour)

green – my pigment of chrome green (haven’t found a tube gouache to match – it’s the perfect colour green for this as far as I’m concerned)
dark green – brunswick green

orange – flame orange
yellow – cadmium yellow

pink – tint of azilirin red
dark pink – tine of azilirin red

outlining – indigo

white for mixing – opaque white. I need to visit the art shop and get the right mixing white, but this one seems to work ok. I don’t have any zinc white.

Sally very kindly took some photos for me.
I was working on the pink acanthus twist “barber’s pole” (I call them that) at the top at the time.

I outlined the elements of this roundel using the uniball pen, and the line was far too thick. I had to repaint the edges to thin the line (insert swear words here).
I’ve outlined the rest in indigo goauche – much better, tho I should probably be using prussian blue, which is a bit darker.

I describe how I paint – physical mixing the colours on the paper, in
- “The Soft Method of Blending”.

Boy, do I need to clean that paper up! But the description of how I paint is all correct.

So the pink acanthus in the box right next to the roundel is outlined in the indigo paint, for comparison to the pen outlining.

The piece is 40 cm by 50 cm.

In the Forest – Colour Pencil Illumination

I went over the rough of the illumination with colour pencils. The colours alternate in many places and I didn’t want to be painting, and suddenly discover I was stuck with going “blue, blue” because I’ve changed the design a bit.

Here’s just the top of it – I couldn’t be bothered scanning it 4 times again, and then patching them together.

I’m not quite decided on how to decorate the illuminated letter. I’m not going to do a historiated letter, as per the original, coz I can’t draw people and don’t want to make a nieve attempt and have it look less good than it might if I use a technique I’m familiar with.
So I’m thinking diapering.

The other thing I haven’t done is the line endings. I wanted to wait until I had done the final piece, to see exactly what spaces I ended up with.

I have done the writing “for real” on the Arches HP now.

I used a student grade Sumi ink.

It was a bit of a struggle – the Sumi is a bit on the thicker side, and I write so slowly with this script that that gravity wasn’t helping the ink flow much. I wrote with an overloaded pen.
(my Brause LH 1.5). It does give the writing a bit of shine, and raise above the paper though.

Of course, there are lots of minor mistakes, where I could have done better. Probably doing it in one hit isn’t the best idea, but I wanted to ‘just do it’.

If I did it again, I’d probably do a different set of minor mistakes. Nothing than normal people would pick up, only calligraphers that know the script.

I’m up to tracing the design onto the Arches. :-) then begins the gilding! :-) I’m going to do flat gilding. I’m not good enough with gesso to do the amount of gilding required for this piece – there’s a huge amount. I’ll have to practise gesso on other smaller pieces – but not this baby.

I’m dissolving some gum arabic crystals in water in preparation for the gilding. I haven’t used it before – I thought the lumps would be really hard to break up, but they aren’t. My fingers smell all piney.

I’m going to have a problem showing progress on the piece. Sticking it in the scanner will bend the paper. It’s 40 x 50 cm big, including the margins. I hope to take it to a friend with a camera occasionally.

In the Forest – Illumination Drawing Finished

I don’t want to have to draw another acanthus any time soon. I am STILL seeing them when I shut my eyes.

That said, I’ve finished drawing the illumination.

Yes, my ability at joining scans together sucks. I’ve never done it before, and I’m pleased that I did as well as I did.

It’s not a direct copy of the Bedford Psalter page. The major changes are

* moving the illuminated letter up to the top left corner, instead of one third down the page, which meant some changes to the illumination design

* a spray instead of the shied in the middle of the bottom

* the right hand side is a mirror of the left, rather than having just a little bit of design (my English isn’t working today) because it led into the gutter, being originally a double page spread.
I did trace the left hand side and used it on the right.
The extra drawing would have been ‘good’ for me, but I think that I may have screamed.

I have drawn up the text block, with the lines, on Arches HP, this morning.

In The Forest – Illumination Drawing 2

I have had a break from drawing the illumination for a few days, because I was seeing acanthus whenever I closed my eyes.

Here’s the next bit of drawing

Doing the drawing as “rough” (then to be traced onto the final piece) is a good idea for me I think. I’m a bit of a Linus when it comes to drawing. Either using a soft pencil, which smudges everywhere, or a harder one which leaves impressions of any corrections. It takes me about 4 attempts to draw any one element, so there is a lot of ‘working’ going on. I’m not much of a draw-er.

In the Forest – Illumination drawing

This is my final ‘rough’. I’ll trace the drawing onto the final piece.

I’ve been making lots of design decisions, have lots of illumination analysis to type up, and am getting thoroughly sick of drawing twisted acanthus!