Sunday, April 22, 2007

Benedicamina Illumination

Say what? "Benedicamina Illumination" is the title of this pen and ink (and gold leaf) painting/drawing. "Benedicamina" because that's written on the scroll held by the angel at the top, which is loosely translated from Psalms 103 as Bless God Always. I had to find verse that might have been used in ancient times and would fit in that little space. "Illumination" because I drew it in the form of an ancient illuminated manuscript.

I LOVE illustrated manuscript art, the more complex and colorful and full of line-work, the better. A Book of Hours is a treasure I could spend days or weeks studying, but I doubt I'll never be allowed to peruse an authentic one, though occasionally someone will sell a single page on eBay. I've also seen them exhibited at the Getty Art Center here in Los Angeles. Then there's the Book of Kells ornately decorated by monks in Dublin, Ireland, famous for its extraordinary beauty and detail.

For two or three years, I've wanted to try making one myself. I didn't feel capable of actually writing a page from a manuscript and illuminating (decorating) it, so I just went with the decoration part, and just wrote a one-liner from Psalms 103. It took six full days! I tried to be authentic as far as using colors that existed at the time and gold leaf, but I couldn't see using real vellum (from calf skin) for so many reasons.


vickileigh said...

Your Illuminated painting is absolutely beautiful!

I have been reading a book about Illuminated Manuscript following a recent visit to the Getty Museum in Malibu.

The pieces of display there were amazing.

Planet Janet said...

I know what you mean about the Getty manuscripts -- I bought their book on the subject, then several more! I can't get enough. They're so unusual, not the mainstream art we're so used to. Thanks for visiting the blog!