October 19th, 2010


I’ve still got it!

But it’s very, very tired.

A little bit back, I not only took but *requested* an assignment for a laurel scroll. The recipient is a really great guy that I like a lot, and if no one else already had a request in I wanted to make that scroll. I got more information to work from than I think I’ve ever had, and based on that I even knew that I had the perfect exemplar manuscript to work from. Unfortunately, while I’ve owned this book for probably fifteen years, I haven’t worked from it for one simple reason – it scares me to death. The sheer scale of it is hugely intimidating. Unfortunately, it was perfect – created in 1455, it was within fifty years of his persona, and had the absolutely most perfect miniature of the construction of a city with masons and stone-carvers. What more perfect layout could there be for an award for excellence in stone carving? Not to mention that I’m a much better copyist than artist, and the appeal of being able to use the miniature unchanged was enormous.

Then I screwed the schedule. First there was the pesky problem of finishing a previously accepted assignment. Then there was the writer’s block (and this piece needed a lot of words. A LOT of words.) Then I got sick. So last week it was really coming down to the wire. Monday I lettered. Tuesday I finished the lettering and the layout. Wednesday I laid ground for gold. That took longer than I thought it would – there’s not much gold by proportion on this layout, but again – the *scale!* I’d hoped/planned to take a half a day on Thursday and all day on Friday off, but they only approved Friday. Not good. So on Thursday I laid most of the gold, and called it quits at 1:00am when I started making mistakes. Friday morning I got up at 6:00, took Charlotte in to day care, and sat down to finish the gold. I gilded, sketched, and painted for the next twenty-eight hours. With bathroom breaks. It got to be problematic at about 6:00am on Saturday when my hands started to shake – makes fine work difficult, which is why the whitework isn’t really what it could be. But at 10:00am on Saturday, I had this!

Yes, that's a 23" x 19-3/4" layout with not one, but two miniatures.  The bottom one is about eight inches square.  iNot bad for an old, washed up laurel!

There are things I’m unhappy with. The whitework and border filigree isn’t as fine as it should be. I completely forgot to put in line enders on the short lines. Just forgot. The faces are kind of “meh.” They need more depth – but I’m not very good at that yet anyhow. I delineated the edges of the buildings and the roofs completely incorrectly – what I *thought* I saw was not actually what was there in the original. The whole thing needs more detail. I could have put another eighty hours into it easily.

That said, I’m pleased.

Once I finished, we packed ourselves up and went to the event. We didn’t blow away in the 40mph winds, which was a good thing. Bob tried to shoot in the wind, and I tried to neither freeze nor blow away. Charlotte tried to convince us to go watch the horses all day. She DID get to pet one of them, thanks to Duchess Katherine. Everyone loved the piece, which made the insanity well worthwhile. Bob was good enough to watch Charlotte while I chatted (and preened – let’s be honest. I haven’t had a good ego boost like that for a while) and we were home at about 7:30. I ate dinner and fell over.

On Sunday I sat on the couch.

I think the next piece will be a bit more… moderate. This may have been over the top. Fun though. I’ve got a couple of backlog pieces to finish up. That’ll be next. I didn’t think I still had it in me. It’s nice to be wrong.  But I've got to say - the all nighters hurt more at forty-one than they did at twenty-one...