A place for Drachenwald's scribes to hang out, learn, discuss and critique each others work.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Some recent finds on BL site, and a new book

While I have a great love for many medieval art periods, Romanesque and early Gothic is my first love, and you never forget your first. :-)
I recently came across these caps while looking for artwork compatible with early gothic (called 'protogothic' by the British Library catalogue, advanced search tool, my favourite source for new ideas).

Remarkably, even though the style, and the palette, is so similar, the two manuscripts are thought to be from two different scriptoriums - one in southern England, possibly Winchester, and one in the Midlands or 'the North'.

Considering how similar the colour scheme and style is, it makes me wonder if there were in fact contract artists travelling around England (one theory about Winchester Bible is that the artists were specialist contractors). The time estimates definitely overlap.

I'd post pics directly, but for some reason cannot at the moment, so you'll have to use the links.

Arundel 35, from Southern England, 2nd or 3rd quarter 12th century
Note especially the D and the S

Arundel 94, from Midlands or North, 2nd or 3rd quarter 12th century
Lovely M and F caps

In other news, I received a new calligraphy book today that I'd never encountered before, called 'Flourishing: a new approach to an ancient art', by Bill Hildebrandt.

Part of his book is available on GoogleBooks, if you can access them, and it gives you an idea of his approach to creating flourishes and especially Cadels and knotwork, similar to the German style lettering-only works Lady Racaire is doing right now. (Unfortunately it seems a mainly US publication, now out of print - very reasonably priced in 2ndhand shops, but almost the same again in shipping.)

What is most interesting to me is that he advocates an actual physical technique for flourishing, where you use your fingers to only hold the pen, and use your full arm as a lever, creating the lines from the shoulder, not the hand.

I've never heard or read of anyone commenting on where the movement and control for calligraphy comes from (the cost of being self-taught), but he argues that with practice you get a smoother long line this way, than from working with the fingers alone.

He also has a clever way of identifying, categorising and planning flourishes, which helps illustrate them (to me anyway) in a new way.

I'll be bringing the book to Battle of Brothers and to Raglan, and am happy to follow up on my experiments. If it makes me a better calligrapher I'll be very excited.

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