Wildlife Illuminated Arts

Q: What is Wildlife Illuminated Arts and how did the idea came about?

The conceptualization for term Wildlife Illuminated Arts came about by using a bit of my own artistry, concepts, design skills, and it included a bit of inspiration from history. I have always created designs with decorative embellishments thru my design bak round in textiles, illustrations, and murals.

Q:What inspired your work?

I began my search with calligraphy because it had a rich history. Through my research I found illuminated medieval and early Renesance manuscripts. Within the manuscripts there were the regal large embellished letters and their decorative boarders. I had found my artistic inspiration with everything It had on my artist wish list.

I live in one of the world’s most beautiful natural environments an artist could hope for, Southern California’s Laguna Beach. A community that has long been supportive of the California’s protection of all endangered and threatened wildlife species.It is my hope that through my art I can aid in some small way to the endanger and threatened species of planet’s shores and waterways.

Please enjoy the following brief history of illumination.

Illumination : A Brief History :

The art of the illumination manuscripts and the decorative elements within them, can be traced as far back as the Egyptian Book of the Dead made in
1310 B.C.. Kings and Emperors of the Middle Ages thru the early Renaissance periods had their court artisans design and make these illuminated manuscripts. All the important heads of state used these illustrated documents to record their history, primarily in monasteries and royal courts. The ability to read these manuscripts were reserved for only the religious leaders or those born of royal blood.

Q : What were the steps used to complete an illuminated manuscripts?

All manuscripts of that time involved Four artisans in the preparation.

Step One The Page: The preparation was the parchment for the pages of a
manuscript that had to be stretched, dried , and prepared.

Step Two The Scribe: The scribe who wrote text by hand in calligraphy font used at the time such as Uncials and Black Letter.

Step Three The Illuminated Artist: The illuminator artist in the third and perhaps the most important step had the task of making the egg tempera paint. The pigments were made by hand with elements from nature. The flowers were layed out to dry and minerals such as lapis were broken apart to make the colors for the paint .Once dried or crouched these elements were ground into a fine powder with mortar and pestle .A mortar is a bowl and a pestle is a heavy clubshaped object.The contents of the inside of an egg’s yolk were broken and tempered into the grounds to form the egg tempera paint.Natural lavender was added to preserve the paints so they would not spoil. Only after the scribe had completed all the text with calligraphy, could the illumination artist add the artistry to each page of a manuscript.

Step Four: The Book Binder : The illuminated pages would then be bounded in to a book by a book binder who would sew the pages together with the cover to complete the book.

Q: How are the modern conveniences of today used to make the prep time easier for the illuminated artists of today?

The illuminated artisan of today do have suppliers who help a bit with the prep time by making the parchment,color grounds and inks used . The trend is still however to do use much of the historical techniques used by the illuminators of the past. The glow of a painting with an egg based paint that is next to hand applied gold on parchment has the most amazing outcome.

Q: What are the techniques and materials do you use at The Illuminated Letter?

Calligraphy: All Calligraphy is hand scribed with calligraphy archival inks and
calligraphy pens. Founts include: Italic, Copperplate, Spencerian Script,
Ornamental Script, Uncial and Black letter.

Water Gilding: Water gilding is the process of gilding letters or raised details by hand and are covered by a metallic thin coating of gold or silver leaf. The raised letters use a calligraphy pen or a artist’s brush to apply the slacker plaster for the raised letter.Once dry the 23 kt gold leaf or silver leaf is applied and burnished down with a specializes tool for the final rich shine of the water gilded embellishment.

Grinding and Tempering Egg Tempera: I purchase professional artist grounds and temper in the egg yolk by hand with a pestle and a large porcelain pallet. It takes around three days to make over 25 of the colors I use in my illuminations. I use rich calligraphy inks to scribe the content of the manuscripts. It takes around three days to make over 25 of the colors I use in my illuminations.

Papers and Parchment: The surfaces used to apply the material that make up the illuminated letter or certificate can be done on parchment,true gesso panels,or watercolor paper.

Q: What websites can I look at to see historical examples of illumination?

Please take some time to visit the website of The Getty Museum in L.A. Look for the exhibit called, “ Five Hundred Years of Manuscript Illumination,” in June of 2003 and one of the most famous manuscripts in history called,”The Belles Heures of the Duke of Berry,” that opened in November of 2008 featuring the art of the Limbourg Brothers.