Thursday, February 26, 2009

Gryphon of Artemisia I

I was digging through my pictures and found some progress pictures of when I did the Gryphon of Artemisia scroll for Vilhelm. Since I added a "back entry" for Bethany's Key Cross, I figured why not add old stuff again.

I began the Gryphon by writing out the text and sending it to my friend Anika, a cute German gal whom I met online. She and her boyfriend set to translating it into German for me. When I got the text back, I was frustrated and had many questions. Not being the polyglot I wish I were, doing scrolls in other languages is extremely difficult. This was my first experience doing one in German. For those of you who speak German, I'm sorry; I cannot vouch for the accuracy or correctness of the translation.

After getting the text questions answered, I chose to go with the Moses manuscript from Mira Calligraphiae because of Vilhelm's amazing Heralding skills. In the SCA, the heralds are known by a badge consisting of crossed trumpets, so the use of trumpets in this piece made it speak to me. Obviously it is used in context of Moses being the voice of God; I used it as Vilhelm being the voice of the Crown.

My spacing was a little off when doing the layout, but I had to run with it because I had no more black illustration board. Yes, that's just illustration board. I did not have the time nor funds to track down another form of black paper. Before doing the text, I tested some white ink I purchased, and was sorely disappointed in its performance. I opted to use titanium white Winsor & Newton gouache for the calligraphy. While not perfectly opaque, it was one hundred times better than the ink.

I had to go over some of the words again to make them more opaque, and if I were to do this again, I'd try permanent white instead of titanium. I filled viney-scroll work between several of the lines of text, as done in the original, and then proceeded to work on the "J" cadel. I found that my hands had begun to shake when working on this, so the "straight" lines are far more wobbley than I would have liked. I later found out that this was due to a health problem, which makes me feel a bit less guilty, but the perfectionist in me still groans at times.

After finishing the cadel, I proceeded to work on the emblazon. I later found out I broke certain manteling rules, but c'est la vie. I'll have to watch that in the future. I had a difficult time deciding what color to do the manteling, and opted for a dark purple; subtle, and matching well with the shading which would happen later in the clouds. The double-headed eagle on Vilhelm's arms turned out a bit sloppy, but it was really quite tiny. I need to work harder to get my tiny-scaled work to be cleaner.

After the emblazon was completed, I moved on to the clouds and trumpets. This was an interesting experiment in reverse-shading. I've never done anything like it and just kept adding layers until it looked right. It was a lot of fun, actually, and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. All in all, I was pleased with the overall effect of this piece, and more than that, the recipient appreciated it. It was given out on March 3, 2007.