My design based on a number of different references from various French and English illuminated manuscript styles, decoration, and fonts. I first sketched it in pencil. Then, using transfer paper traced the final image on to 90 lb. watercolor paper. This was a cold press, however, in the future I will use hot press to insure as smooth a paper surface as possible in order to capture the detail and such a small scale. Note this image is only 4" tall! The gild was a liquid decorative gold paint applied with a watercolor paint brush. However, I have used real sizing and faux gold leaf. This process is faster more convenient for capturing small detailed areas. Also, the liquid leaf does not demand the expertise necessary for applying gold leaf well. The final was painted in watercolor and then outlined in India ink.
Recently, I had the good fortune to attend an afternoon workshop with the wonderfully talented artist, Jean Brinton Jaecks to design and paint an initial letter in the style of medieval manuscripts. This workshop was part of the Mitchell Gallery's (on the St. John's College Campus, Annapolis, MD) latest exhibit "Painted Pages." To see more about the exhibit click here:
The images on top are my project. The gallery of images below that are the step by step workshop demonstration. Ms. Jaecks used watercolor pencil. I am hoping to create more images based on these techniques, so stay tuned!