The Illuminators

November 14, 2018

Illuminators November 14

The Illuminators show up in an initial of “I” — design by Meredith Eliassen, 2018.

This is new exploration into the carriers of information that reflect basic humanity… the scribes and painters of illuminations were mobile artisans that transported ideas and styles throughout medieval Europe. Look for more creative folks to show up in the coming months…

Medieval art was collaborative in nature with different artisans working on different stages of projects. Students using hard-point styluses made of metal or bone, or graphite copied the work of masters. Sometimes books were created over multiple generations with flourished pinwork of later artists updated the look of a project. Artisans often mixed a quantity of color and applied it sequentially to different miniatures. Pigments were natural, organic, mineral, or manufactured. Washes were overlaid with tones of varied saturation to provide shadows or highlights. The best blue was manufactured from lapis lazuli; it was very expensive because it was imported from as far away as Afghanistan, so it was use only for luxury images.

An illuminated manuscript is a manuscript in which the text is supplemented by the addition of decoration or illustration, such as decorated initials, borders and miniatures. In the strictest definition of the term, an illuminated manuscript only refers to manuscripts decorated with gold or silver. However all words accompanied by imagery become more memorable to the artist and to anybody that views the imagery.

mer illume fav 2

A leaf from a French Book of Hours, circa 1420, photographed by R. I. Otterbach in late afternoon light on an autumn day in 2014. The reversal of numbers in the years amuses me.

I am embracing the illuminated written word. Though I cannot replicate the work of this scribe with my little Micron pens and Strathmore watercolor paper, I admire this illuminator’s fine decorative line work and I am letting up-lifting messages shape my designs.