I wanted a Romanesque image for Gerhardt's early-ish persona, and fell in love with this initial from a 13th c German gradual (sister piece to the one I posted earlier), now in the V&A.
I thought it apt, as he lives in Germany.
The initial incorporates two dragons, and of course, Albion is a dragon, one that gives selflessly.
When I see initials like this, I increasingly think that while you might draft the original with grids, compasses and sketching, the finished piece is transferred by some form of tracing... so this is my first scroll with a traced figure. I used good-quality tracing paper, and something called tracing-down paper; it's like a carbon paper for artists.
The tracing-down pigment erases like pencil, and works on fabric as well as paper/parchment. One of my instructional books says this stuff is hard to come by (and offers instructions on making your own, with lightweight paper and red bole dry pigment), but I found it in both Cornelissens and in a online shop.
Robert's text makes it work, though: a beautifully brief poem and statement.
While the original initial has pale patches in the background, looking really closely at the scan, there are traces of an ochre-ish pigment, very close to the colour that the parchment is now. While I liked the blue-and-red palette alone, I think the ochre finishes the initial.
The ink of the callig and initial now is brown - but apparently oak gall ink goes brown over time (like centuries)...and, as I discovered, is waterproof once dry, so this is where my inking > painting > finishing working order discovery happened.
For this work, I enlarged the initial quite a bit - it has so much rich detail, it stands up well to being enlarged. The next time I use it, I'll try for 'original' size of 11 x 8.5cm (V&A has excellent detailed description ) which will require the teeeenieest of pen nibs.
Firsts for me:
- fine pen and ink work
- using a callig pen to create the intials (instead of pencilling and painting them in)
- scale of ornament - my biggest painted work yet
I enjoyed this work so much I didn't want to mail it away, but I know it was going to a good home.