Sunday, December 29, 2013

The Final Details

From start to finish, my project took 41 days! I started with the desire to really enter the working methods of the Boucicaut Master, an elusive and anonymous French Illuminator from the 15th Century. My portion of the border is far larger than the original. I worked at a size of 2 1/4" By 10 inches and I dramatically enlarged the image I found online to study the details. The purpose of studying this way and copying this manuscript was to see what I could absorb of the Boucicaut Master's attention to detail. I was not disappointed! By enlarging the original, I could see every detail. From the individual seed pods in the acanthus leaf centres, to the veining drawn on the stalks of the cornflowers to the curls and the part in the angels' hair! I learned how the shading was applied to the acanthus leaves. I could see several shades of lavendar and blue in the violets and I could see that how he painted the curves of the violet leaves, in fact he painted a ruffle on the violet leaf!
I invested over 30 hours in the project. The piece is almost entirely painted with a 000 Winsor Newton Series 7 Brush. Some of the larger areas were done with a 00 or 0 brush. It took 4 layers of watercolour to build up a jewel tone effect. My working method throughout the piece was moist brush rather than having a lot of water on the brush. One of the techniques I discovered was in the facial features and in the hands. Usually, I don't outline my work before painting. I save the outlining until the end if it is necessary. At first glance and even enlarging and studying this piece, I felt that it had not been outlined except in a few areas. But as I continued to study and magnify the image, I could see that the facial features and hands hand been outlined, with the features fully drawn and then a light wash of pigment was placed over top of the outlining. They white of the vellum was left for the eyes.
A great technique to remember. The final reward of this piece was the filigree work.
When I gilded the piece initially, it is hard to see a pattern or any sort of sense in the placement of gold. The gilding pattern in the filigree is random rather than repeated. But the Boucicaut Master took care to make sure each gilded leaf or orb was attached to a stem which in turn was attached to another part of the design. This gives such a continuity in the filigree. My illumination teacher always treats the filigree portion of a miniature as the reward for working through the piece. I felt very rewarded as I applied the filigree. I did not reference the manuscript for the filigree work. It is very intiuitive. In the end, the piece yeilded up some discoveries that would have remained hidden if I had not embarked on this journey. I enjoyed the study and the peace it brought over this festive season of the year. Although I invested time and energy, this piece feels as though it does not belong to me. I added one little touch ( other than adjusting the pug nose on the lower angel). Where the Boucicaut Master had further ornamented his filigree work with tiny drawn dots, I filled the dots with my Sakura Stardust pen! A little twinkle from this century, reaching back into his.


Stephen said...

Thank you for posting you're study for everyone to see.

Heather Victoria Held said...

My pleasure Stephen!

nutcake said...

It's fabulous, Heather. Worth all the time and effort you've put into it.

Heather Victoria Held said...

thank you for the kind words. I enjoyed working through the challenges of this piece!