Creative Anachronism in the Time of Corona(virus)

Hi all. I know, it’s been a bit since I last blogged. With the global shutdown, and with my modern job heavily tied to taking care of contingencies just like this, I didn’t have much time to devote to the Society. . .until I could then devote some time to my arts, for a bit. And lo and behold, I had a little bit more time to work on things. (If there is anything positive from this, it is that I had time to practice and work on things that I love.)

You might remember the post I made about stretching my scribal boundaries, and my plans past that point. Well, I finished the piece I had planned to do, based on this exemplar, and I have to say that I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Things I had problems with, initially: The FineTec I had used for the gold did not want to stick to the pergamenata, so it took a couple of rounds of paint to attempt to get the coverage I wanted. I also finally had a chance to use some of the paint that I’ve been mixing by hand, including using dragon’s blood in some glazing techniques, especially in the shadows of the cherries. I also ended up using my smaller brushes to get the details in. I’m also not entirely keen on the shadows on the gold (I used a highly watered down Daniel Smith Amethyst), but, for getting the 3D effect to really take off, it worked. The thing that looked the most out of place was the Lily badge, but, I think this was due to fatigue on the project. In the future, I may try and sneak a badge in in other places besides at the bottom of the location of the text block. For a piece that easily took about 80 hours of work just on the illumination, though, I’m pleased with how it turned out.

Once this was done, I was somewhat itching to do another piece. Being the kind of person I am, I wanted to do something with skulls or skeletons or something of that ilk. So, after searching, I found this 15th c French exemplar (warning, page uses Flash still) indicating the start of the part of the liturgies that had to do with the Office of the Dead. This particular exemplar is small – about 6″ by 4.3″. I am all for small scrolls, and I may end up redoing this one closer to scale, but for this one, I blew the proportions up to fit on an 17″ x 11″ piece of perg. I don’t normally work this big, but as this was also for the same blank border contest as the first one, I wanted to make sure the calligrapher had room to work in. I suspect the weird fish-shaped bones are meant to be scapulae, and I did some modifications to the layout because I was on a larger substrate. (They’re illuminators, not anatomists, dammit.)

With this one, I used more paint that I had made myself, notably alizarin lake (the pink) and ultramarine (the blue), and oddly, had no issues with the FineTec this scroll. I liveposted this scroll on my Instagram and The Other Social Network and enjoyed such comments as “spoopy spots,” in reference to the gold circles and dots around the skulls.

All told, this particular scroll blank took about 40 hours (simpler background, less complex shading), but I’m not less proud of it. I’m mostly giggly over the number of skulls that look like they could go for a good stiff (ha!) drink right about now. (Me too, skelliman. Me too.)

Less related to painting, but more relating to the community that binds us together, I created a glow-up or pass the brush video, similar to what’s seen on TikTok and Insta. And so this happened.

I could not be happier or prouder of my kingdom, and how this particular exercise really brought us together. (with another one on the way!)

So, what have I learned in the last few months of being away from the Society? One, that we still have a community, and what we say and do online still matters. Our comportment, how we treat others, and how we say and do things both on and offline matter. Classes are still occurring, and in some kingdoms (not mine), awards are still be granted. The most important aspect of the Society – information transfer – is still happening. I’ve had more time to hone my craft. Some have spent time mending and researching. Being forced home hasn’t always been as horrible as it could be. Don’t get me wrong, I miss being in close quarters with friends and chosen family, but I’ve enjoyed the time I’ve had here to work on things and improve. I realise this comes from a place of great privilege (I still have my job, my home, and am in relatively good health) – and I recognize that others may not have the same privilege to do what I’ve done over the past couple of months. It’s okay.

I guess what I’m saying is that this has shown us that the Society is its people, and without that, we cannot survive without leaning on one another. It’s going to be rough for the foreseeable future, and our shields will take some battering. We have to be in it together.

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