Sunday, September 16, 2018

What Do You See?

From the Daily Star in the UK
You can enhance your work by nurturing your visual awareness. Whether you research pixels in medieval manuscripts or notice details in modern pictures you increase your observation powers through constant practice. 

What do you see in the picture to the right? Is it a duck or a rabbit?

Whether you see a rabbit or a duck may depend on how you believe either should appear. This also happens when you recreate medieval manuscript images, especially faces and hands. We expect them to appear a certain way so we draw them onto medieval people in the scrolls we create. 

It goes a bit deeper than that. The way Medieval faces, feet, and hands appear in manuscripts vary by era or location, often in the details. Compare the images below. They're separated at least by two centuries and hundreds of miles. What do you see?

Do they appear cartoonish or realistic? How many paint layers can you find? What shading and highlighting do you see? How dense are they outlined?

Book of Kells, Folio 32v,
Christ Enthroned.


Book of Kells, Folio 32v,
Christ Enthroned.

From an 8th century 
Insular Gospel Book
the iconic Book of Kells










Escorial, Biblioteca Monasterio
 Cod. & II. 5

Escorial, Biblioteca Monasterio Cod. & II. 5



From a 10th Century 

Spanish Beatus, Mozarabic art's best-known works.

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Melisende Psalter
 Web Gallery of Art 16037
Melisende Psalter
 Web Gallery of Art 16037



From Jerusalem's Church of the Holy Sepulchre ca. 1131 and 1143










The Visconti Hours:
National Library, Florence
Celestial Court and
Fall of the Rebel Angels
The Visconti Hours:
National Library, Florence
Celestial Court and
Fall of the Rebel Angels






From a colorful late 14th century Italian personal Book of Hours






Looking at medieval illuminated manuscripts strengthens your detail awareness, your "medieval eye". However you do it, these in-depth comparisons are vital to scribal progress. I like how they challenge my expectations and creativity. 



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