Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Uncial Hand Of Calligraphy

Have you ever heard of the Book of Kells? This is one of the oldest examples of a biblical manuscript in tact today.  It contains the four Gospels. It is written in Latin and was written by medieval monks around the 8th century. Some scholars say that it was most likely written in scriptorium of a monastery on the Isles of Iona, off the northwest coast of Scotland. It was moved to the village of Kells, in Ireland after a Viking raid to keep it safe around 680AD.  Later in the 11th c. it was stolen, where the cover was torn off and the remainder of the book was discarded in a ditch. Sadly, the cover has never been recovered. It is believed, that it was stolen for the gold, precious stones and gems that encrusted its cover.

St Colum Cille Monastery- founded 561 AD, Isles of Iona, Scotland

It contains 680 vellum pages! Vellum was painstakingly made from calfskin. Then those pages were stacked into folios, 340 of them, and then sewn together to create this extraordinary book. What is even more remarkable is that all but two of the pages contain illuminated artwork and intricately painted Celtic knot work, some of which, is so refined it can only be seen with a magnifying glass!

Details of Celtic Knot work
 There were 10 different colors of ink used. The inks were natural dyes made from plants, roots, bark, minerals, shells and other things found in nature, some of which had to come from other continents. Many of the pages are illuminated with gold. There are pages that feature what is referred to as "carpet"
pages because of their graphic layout.
Carpet page

 The book also includes portrait pages and partially decorated pages as well.

Portrait page laid out like a carpet page

Partially decorated page
 This is such a fine example of the artistry and craftsmanship of medieval Europe.  It is an inspiring model for us to use as we study for our next project!

Details of above corner

If that alone isn't enough to make it awesome, then maybe this will interest you. It is also a great example of Uncial calligraphy, the second hand of calligraphy that we will be working on.

 Today the book of Kells is on display in the old library,located at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland. It is visited by 500,00 people each year.

Please come to class prepared with your calligraphy pen in your art box.  This will be an instructional day with some practice time to it.
(, "The Book of Kells" Melissa Snell-Medieval History Expert)
(, Book of Kells)
photos taken from Google for the purpose of education

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Bonus Cards Activities

Courtesy of the Graphic Fairy

Hi Art Student! As promised, I am posting a couple opportunities to earn bonus cards if you are short on relic cards. I am hoping to give you lots of opportunities to do this year. There are  so many extra fun activities to try and we never have enough time in class to do it all, bummer!  But as I have told you before, what you put into art class, is what you will get out of art class. These are both optional activities.

One thing that would be fun to do on break week is to make some ink like the Monks did in the Middle Ages. They used whole walnuts, berries and other things found in nature.  There are lots of YouTube videos and recipes on the Internet,  but here is a link to a simple version HERE  This link has some nice photos as well. Try it and see what happens!

Google image for educational purposes

So to earn your bonus card make some ink and practice your Roman hand. You will need to use a dip pen or you can make your own by finding a stick the diameter of a pencil and sharpening it with a knife. Make a chisel point! Please be careful and have a parent help you if you are unsure! Bring your practice sheet to class.

Another way would be to answer the questions from the last post on the Roman hand on the back of your practice sheet that you worked on at home during break week. You can do the walnut ink at any time this year but the questions and Roman hand practice must be brought to class the week we are back to earn your bonus cards.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Calligraphy- The Roman Hand

Inscription on Column of Trajan 
photo from Google images for educational purposes
 For translation go HERE

Hello Art Students! I am sorry for getting this out a bit late.

For this coming Co-op day we will be introduced to our first hand of calligraphy study, the Roman hand. I have uploaded our practice sheet to the co-op web page so if you need an extra copy for practicing, download and print another at home.

 I will instruct you some in class, as well as, give you time to practice.  Some practice will need to be done at home 20-30 min. throughout this week would be great.  I will be collecting your practice sheets from home next week and looking at your work. You will not be graded, but I would like to give you some feedback on your progress. We will use the best set to fix in our Book of Hours.

I also want you to also answer the following questions on the back of your practice sheet that you will be turning in to me next week. (This assignment will earn a bonus card so if you are short please do this assignment for make up)

1. Why did the Romans write this way? Look in your History of Writing document if you get stuck.

2. What can you tell about the Romans just by looking at the way they write?Explain.

Here is a link to a website that has further explanation. Look at the first photo, inscriptions and translations to give you more information to answer the questions above. Think in general terms. What can we learn about the Romans from what they wrote about and the way it looks? If you wish to know more about the Column of Trajan go to the website listed below.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

A Work of Art, The Medieval Manuscript and The Book of Hours

Illuminated lettering in Book of Hours- the colors are amazing in the artwork!

I don't know about you students, but I love books. In fact, I love books as much as I love art, seriously, I know I am crazy! I love the written word and its power to ignite or inflict. How do you use your words, spoken or written? Do you fill others with life with your words or death with your words?

During the Middle Ages, a book or manuscript, as it was called, was precious and rare! Why? Because not everyone could own one. The process to create a manuscript was painstakingly long and it passed several skilled and cleverly, creative, hands before it was finished. Please be able to tell me who these craftsmen were for class time. 

Some manuscripts were aesthetically valuable because they were often encrusted with precious and semi-precious stones and metals like gold and etched, silver. However, it also contained information that empowered the reader who owned it and could read it, This made it invaluable!

This first video is all about manuscripts as an art form.  

The next two are specifically on the Book of Hours and how they are made and used.

Here are some covers and inside pages illuminated with incredible artwork.As you look at these pictures of covers, letter art and illumination art be thinking through the design elements and page layouts that you like best.

Our assignment for this model is to create our own Book of Hours to house our calligraphy, calligraphy projects and our relic cards. How will you design your cover? Will it have a motif in the middle or something to occupy each corner? You can research on your own as well if you wish. You will be given some materials during class including: f aux leather, grommets, decorative paper and gems. I invite you to use your imagination and embellish it with things that you might have at home too.

One projects for our Book of Hours will be to create illuminated letter art. This might be used on your cover as a motif or to decorate an inside page. You get to decide, but be sure to include a space for  this in your preliminary design!

Embossed Gold and precious stones with leather binding

Tooled leather in a Celtic Knot pattern, look how small this book is about 5 in.

Leather, embossed silver, hand painted miniature medallions

 Detail photo front cover of the Lindau Gospels

the back cover of the Lindau Gospel etched and embossed gold precious stones and enameling

Marie de Medici of Italy, Book of Hours- Velvet with silver metal embroidery work 

All photos from Google images for educational purposes
Kahn Acadamy  a beginner's guide to medieval Europe for information and additional videos

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Mosaic Making

 I wanted to post this video, sent by a friend, to augment our study of  our first model Iconic mosaics. The process is a bit surprising.  Be prepared to tell me something interesting that you observed as you watched the video this week.. This video shows the process from start to finish of making middle eastern mosaics. I hope you enjoy it.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


So the first thing you need to do is go over to your online dictionary and look up what Iconography is? Yes, I am serious go, right now!

Iconic art marks an important shift in the artwork of the early Christian church and it is well worth studying. As we move along our time line in history from the Ancients into the Middle Ages there is a struggle in the empire and the Roman Empire begins to fall. This opens the way for the Byzantine Empire to reign. We see the Muslim religion find its place in many buildings that were once ruled by the Roman Catholics and Christians. Along with this we see artistic ideas reshaped and many of the beautiful mosaics of Christ, the early church, and biblical depictions of people and stories are demolished.  This lasted for more than 100 years during the Byzantine Empire.This is called the Iconoclastic period.
"Both Muslims and Jews perceived Christian images (that existed from the earliest times of Christianity) as idols and in direct opposition to the Old Testament prohibition of visual representations. The first commandment states,You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters under the earth. You shall not adore them, nor serve them (Exodus 20:3-5)." (Text by Dr. Davor D┼żalto, Iconoclastic Controversies,
Watch this video on one of best examples from this time period of Iconic Mosaic work. It is found inside the San Vitale Catherdral in Ravenna, Italy. It is so amazing it just takes my breath away. We will be making a paper version of a Christus iconic mosaic, which dates back to between 546-556 AD
Also make sure you know what the following words mean: Iconography,  tesserae, mosaicByzantine,Rotunda 

The Christus as a young man

Justininan Emperor of the Byzantine Empire

His wife Theodora

Mosaic tile work in traditional patterning

Monday, September 8, 2014

First Things First!

Ephemera art from the Graphic Fairy 

In the past, I have assigned vocabulary words and they have been pretty hit and miss with students. So this year, I have decided to do vocabulary a bit differently.  I want students to know, know, know, the 7 elements of art and the 7 principles of design! To this end, your first assignment will be to complete my Vocabulary Palette! You will get this handout in class on the first day. I know this will be a fun and different way to utilize your vocab. words, I hope you enjoy this assignment. I will give you further instructions in class on the first week.

I have a glossary of art terms available for you on the co-op website or you can utilize an online source and or books from the library! You may use any of your medium in your art box. This assignment is due by week 2 and will earn you a bonus relic card. Oh yea! You must bring your finished vocabulary palette to class to earn your bonus card.