A Roman Inspired Scroll

A document in landscape orientation. The top half of the document is latin text in calligraphy. The bottom half of the document is a painted roman mosaic. There are two peacocks, heads toward center, flanking the badge of the A&S Champions of the East Kingdom, a rampant blue tiger holding a candle. The mosaic background is gold, and all three charges are in rectangular boxes with graduated blue borders.
Ink, pencil, and gouache on pergamenata.

After I learned that my award scrolls for the past reign (Consort’s Champion of A&S and Order of the Maunche) had been backlogged, I had an idea. I wanted to create the document for my successor, the new Consort’s Champion of Arts and Sciences. It seemed like a beautiful end to my tenure as Champion, going out with with Art as Service. I reached out to the Sovereign’s Champion, who is also a scribe, and suggested that we make the award scroll documents for our successors. He loved the idea, volunteered to coordinate with the Signet’s Office, and suggested that our documents not “match” but instead make something in our own style.

I don’t know that I have a scribal style yet. I tend to do something new each time. And I was determined to come up with something. And while I’d love to create a Heian inspired scroll, it’s not right. This is the scroll where the Consort of the East chooses Her Champion. So I decided the document should be inspired by Empress Honig, the One choosing Her champion. It gave me the opportunity to create a piece of art inspired by and for Her Majesty to present. I also wanted this scroll to be something Empress Honig would be proud of as a Laurel who specializes in illumination. Her Majesty had styled Her reign Roman. My immediate thought was to mimic a roman mosaic. Her Majesty’s personal arms include a peacock, so I set off in search of peacock mosaics.

I examined so very many mosaics of peacocks. And also borders of mosaics. A neat tidbit from my research, I learned that bird feathers were quite often rendered in glass rather than stone.

I liked this Peacock from Antioch the best.

A mosaic of a peacock facing left, standing on a branch with a pomegranate on it.
Detail of a peacock in the border of the mosaic of Opora, Argos and Oinos dining dating to the 3rd century AD. Found in the House of the Psyches in the Daphne suburb of Antioch. Reg. no. 1937.127 [On display in the Baltimore Museum of Art.]

You can find it here: http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/antiochMosaicsBaltimore4.html 

The initial idea I had was a document oriented in a landscape position. Two peacocks (as it’s Her Majesty’s second reign) facing each other. Between the two peacocks, two oval or round badges, stacked, with the Consort’s arms as the top image and the A&S badge the bottom. Simple borders “line” the images into a “unified” mosaic. Words would be above the image in a rectangular block.  After playing with digital layouts, I settled on a similar design, placing the two badges side by side instead of stacked.

Digital mock up, two peacocks flankinf the arms of the Queen of the East Kingdom, left center and the badge for the A&S Champion, right center
My design process always includes a mock up. This was a quick version made in Paint.

And then I began to wonder about the words. A Roman inspired scroll should probably be in Latin. I immediately thought to contact Domina Fortunata, who has a talent for both Latin and wordsmithing, and was delighted when she consented to assist. We discussed how I felt to have been chosen as Consort’s A&S Champion, and how artistry can move the heart of the Empress. She composed beautiful words in a Latinate prosody style that encapsulate the idea I was trying to describe.

The words in Latin:

Narrete nobis, O Musae, historiam herois. Impartite quae cogitonem artificis semetipse Imperatricem Orientalis iniecit; velut Pygmalionem Galatea, Sapientia philosophos, Daedalo Innovatio iniecerunt. Ante diem tertium Nonas Martii, in anno quinquagesimo sexto ab Societate condita, decernitur <Insert name here> Heroem Reginae Artibus et Scientiis

And the translation:

O Muses, tell us the story of a hero. Impart some knowledge of the artist who inspired the Empress of the East; like Galatea inspired Pygmalion, as Reason inspired philosophers, as Innovation inspired Daedalus. Three days before the Nones of March in the 56th year from the founding of the Society, <Insert name here> is declared Queen’s Champion of Arts and Sciences. 

I chose to do  the calligraphy in what David Harris calls “square capitals” in his text The Calligrapher’s Bible. It dates to the 4th century. After I taught myself the hand, it was time to put pencil, ink, and gouache to pergamenata.

I started by drawing out the lines for the calligraphy and the block outlines of the images.

half lines for calligraphy, half blocks to mark the boundaries of the mosaic, pencil on pergamenata

After some practice on a piece of perg (I was previously practicing on artist paper, the difference is astounding, perg being a much smoother surface, the pen glides on it!) I then did the calligraphy with a dip pen.

The same document. The lines are now filled with calligraphy. It is Latin written in square capitals.

After the calligraphy was complete, I painted a practice piece on the same perg I practiced the calligraphy with most of the mosaic image; one peacock, the Queen’s arms and the A&S Champion’s badge, Sparky, the blue tiger, holding a lit candle. The faux tiling looked good, but the Queen’s arms looked absolutely awful. While I was debating what to do, the Sovereign’s Champion shared his progress with me. I noticed that he didn’t include the King’s arms on his document and knew exactly what to do. I decided to omit the Queen’s arms from my document. And I’m so glad I did.

I redid the pencil outline for the mosaic blocks and instantly felt confidant in the design choice. It was more balanced. It looked more like the hundreds of images of mosaics I poured over.

The same document. Now the blocks outlined for the mosaic are shifted with the center block being less wide, and the flanking blocks on left and right slightly wider.

I then traced the charges using my light pad. The document remained taped to the light pad until complete to alleviate any warping that might occur while painting. I do this with all my scrolls made with pergamenata.

The same document. Inside the blocks are now the outlines of the badge of the A&S Champion in center and peacocks flanking it

And added some guiding border detail.

The same document. lines added to the borders of the mosaic blocks

As to the technique for painting a mosaic style scroll, I drew process inspiration from Magistra Audrye Beneyt’s mosaic scroll for Gauis Claudius Valerianus, Her advice on this project was invaluable. The process is basically to paint in the broad swaths of not very well blended color and then go back with a particular color and paint each tiny little grout line. Thousands of tiny squares.

First I painted the background color.

The same document. The background of the three animal charges is painted yellow.

Then the border. I chose shades of blue to keep a very blue and gold East Kingdom populace colors theme and add unity between the peacocks, Sparky and the border.

The same document. The borders are painted in shades of blue, darkest on the outside and inside fading to white in the center.

Continuing with the blue, I painted Sparky and the peacocks.

The same document. Charges now have blue paint applied to Sparky (the A&S badge) and both peacock bodies with some blue details in their tail feathers

A dark brown for the peacock’s legs.

The same document. Dark brown paint added to the peacock legs

Some peachy pink feathers. The feathers are one block/tile high.

The same document. Peachy pink added to peacock tail feathers.

Then the darker red shades and other detail.

The same document. Dark red added to peacock tail feathers, greens and oranges added in small spots on the bird's body

Sparky’s tongue and the candle flame.

The same document. Detail of the Champions badge, the tongue and flame of the candle are now red.

And then I started the grout lines.

The same document. Detail of the left peacock with grouting lines starting to be applied in tiny squares

I finished one peacock.

The same document. Detail of left peacock with grouting complete. The peacock has a kind of grid laid over the image to mimic mosaic tiling

And continued on to Sparky.

The same document. Grout work has spread to the center charge of the Champions badge, a little more than 1/3 done
The same document. Detail showing the completed left peacock and central Champion's badge

And finally finished it.

The same document. It is now complete with grouting being painted over all tree charges/mosaic blocks.

My hearty congratulations to The Honorable Lady Ysabel da Costa, the new Queen’s Champion of Arts and Sciences. It was a privilege to create this award document.

Event-ing Season

I’ve been able to attend several events.

The East Goes East – was a rewarding event to autocrat/schedule. Their Royal Highnesses attended, and much to my surprise, They even sat in on one of my classes. It was such a deep honor. And speaking of honors, Lady Patience Faircloth and I received a commendation from the Board of Directors of the SCA for the event. I was floored. We have discussed the possibility of making it an annual event.

Aisles of March / Crown’s A&S Championship – In what will be a recurring theme, I did not complete the items I wanted to for this event for myself. Eventually I’ll make a hiogi (wooden fan) but it has not happened yet. I did complete the scroll/document for the next Queen’s Champion of Arts and Sciences. The next blog post will be its write up.

A document in landscape orientation. A block of text in latin takes up the top half of the image, the lower half is a mosaic painting, two peacocks, heads to center, flanking the badge of the Champion of A&S, a left facing blue rampant tiger holding a candle
Award document for the new Queen’s Champion of Arts and Sciences. Ink, pencil and gouache on pergamenata.

I was very emotional stepping down. I didn’t cry in public, but it was incredibly difficult to let that position go. I am quite in awe of the project submitted by the new Queen’s Champion. It was a deep honor to be in the room consulting with Their Majesties and Highnesses regarding the next Champions. I am so very grateful for my time as Champion and the work I was able to do to inspire the Arts.

Gulf Wars in Gleann Abhann – This is a 22 hour drive one way. For this trip, 9 of those hours were through heavy snowstorms. I don’t know why I decided that driving straight through was the right idea, but that’s just what I did. We arrived early enough to get on site and set up camp, but with the temperatures predicted in the high 20s and weary from the drive, we stuck to the original plan and a hotel was procured. Our tent heater got a workout as it was in the low 30s the next night on site. I spent the majority of my free time sewing, even staying up through the night and sewing for nearly for 24 hours straight to finish the items for the Champions A&S Competition. I was very pleased with the work I did. But there was disappointment at the A&S Competition. Of course I wanted to win for the Glory of the East Kingdom, but that did not happen, and that’s ok. It was my first in person A&S competition, and there was definitely a learning curve. I did get some confusing and even angering comments from my judges that made it clear they did not have the time to read my documentation. I’m puzzling over ways to make it easier to get into the documentation for future competitions. I’m also very grateful for the Laurel who took me aside after the competition to talk me down and help me reframe the competition. I didn’t know if camping/eventing would complicate it, but I was able to continue writing and posting poetry the entire time. My partner and I did decide to leave the event a day early (there was a minor flooding issue) and the drive home was very relaxed. This event was also the 19th anniversary with my partner, we met at Gulf Wars.

Gathering of Fools – was a pot luck local event. I made two lovely Japanese dishes, a carrot and daikon salad and a shitake mushroom dish. I was astonished when I was called into court and made the First Poet of Carolingia. Her Excellency Carolingia presented me with her own quill, tied with a beautiful silk ribbon to mark my new office.

Coronation – was a beautiful event. I displayed the kosode that I sewed at Gulf Wars and retained for the first time officially. I was also able to process in with the new Royals in evening court. This was the first time that I was able to wear my travelling outfit at an event.

Balfar’s Challenge – gave me another chance to retain for TRMs. I spent a lot of time chatting with friends and meeting new people. And I also learned that the makeup I wear is not adequate in preventing sunburn.

East Kingdom College of Performers Challenge Assembly and Schola was a delightful Bardic event that I attended with Her Excellency Carolingia. I took a few classes and performed a tanka. It was a beautifully relaxing day, if a little warm.

Otter’s Welcome was the Barony of Carolingia’s event to welcome newcomers. I had a ferocious migraine, and showed up late, but eventually found where I was supposed to be to set up for the Largesse Derby. I spent most of the day speaking with Mistress Cathain who was watching over the A&S display. In court I was inducted into the Order of the Moon, the Barony of Carolingia’s A&S award. Just before court, His Excellency Master Aquel presented me with a small box. inside were two beads, a beautiful glass bead, and an astonishing carved bone netsuke charm in the shape of a tiger eating it’s tail. The gift was presented with a directive to carve my own inro, a decorative case used to hold small objects that usually hangs from the obi/belt.

War of the Roses did not happen for me. That migraine I had at Otter’s was actually a COVID symptom. Luckily no one seems to have gotten ill from spending time with me at that event. I did not complete the items I wanted to for this event either, even if I couldn’t go. Every time I approach making myself something other than Japanese garb, I freeze up. I know how to make these things, I just can not picture myself actually wearing anything other than Japanese. So I guess there’s no point in making any of it. I do still need to make a few non Japanese items for my partner, a Viking under tunic and pants, and a late period shirt and doublet. We also discovered at Gulf Wars that he really prefers more simple garb, so I’m devising ways to make the ties on his hakama much easier and will be revising all the sleeves on his kosode.

As much as I would love to go to every event I can, that is just not currently financially feasible. I’m grateful for the 8 events I’ve had so far this year. I plan on 1 in July, Great Northeastern War; 1 in September, Falling leaves, though I’d love to attend Ducal Challenge to see the former Sovereign’s A&S Champ be inducted into the Order of the Laurel; and 1 in November, St Eligius Arts and Sciences Competition. I will consider Coronation and Crown list once they are scheduled. Unless circumstances change, this will be it for the rest of the year.

Beyond events, I have a few active projects…

TRMs Garb is “due” this month. I may need to ask for another two weeks, as I lost two weeks to COVID.

New Scroll! I actually turned down the next assignment I was offered. I was asked to make the Bardic Champions’ documents, and really would have loved to do it, but I was planning to compete and thought that would be a little weird. This assignment is an AoA. Luckily the gentle has an East Kingdom wiki page, so I can easily pull the information I need that was not included by the person who recommended them. This document has a quick turn around, and will need to be completed by the end of June so that someone can hand deliver it to the event on July 1st. There’s no way I can give up the time required to mail it. And I’m loathe to mail scrolls/document anyway.

Samurai Training – I’ve picked this back up. I’ve been attending Fighter Practice and doing daily drills. I need to get my armor together so I can actually start sparring.

Genji Project – I’ve now talked to a number of people about this project, and I think I’ve worked up the courage and cleared my project schedule. I’ve decided to start in July. I’ll do a write up of the project to officially announce it. And there will be other happenings. This will also mean more frequent updates to the blog to follow along with the project.

And I have a completed project:

100 Days of A&S – At last, a completed project. I spent at least 15 minutes, every day for 100 days doing something A&S related. Usually this was writing a tanka, but it was also work done to support A&S at events and studying Japanese, sewing and researching and teaching classes. I’ll admit this was an easy project, and that it continues as I am still writing tanka, every day.

Deadlines

Oh dear. I didn’t mean to let January get away from me, but it did. I spent it moving back into good habits.

I’ve been writing tanka, everyday. And I’ve picked back up my daily studying of Japanese. Still coming up short on my samurai training, but I do manage some small amount of stretching or exercise most days. And I found a potential armorer for when I purchase my first full kit. He’s currently working on my partner’s kabuto (helm).

I now have more projects (I know, I know) and firm deadlines. I’ll lay it out.

February 7th. My last contribution to Meet the Artist Monday.

February 19th. This is the day of The East Goes East, the virtual event that I am co-autocratting. I’ve been hard at work confirming classes, answering questions and creating the class schedule. I have a number of things that still have to be done for this, mostly advertising and communicating with teachers, and including slide-shows for my classes which need updating! I plan to do a run through of my classes as well.

March 5th. This is the day of the East Kingdom’s Crown’s A&S Championship. For this I would like to complete my karaginu and hiogi in order to wear full karaginu mo for the first time when I step down as Champion. I also have a scroll assignment due at the event. I have the research complete and a possible layout designed. I’m also working with a wordsmith (someone who crafts the words of the scroll). I intend to do the calligraphy myself, but have a couple of calligraphers in mind if I can’t accomplish it. I also intend to contact someone who has made a similar scroll for advice. And there’s also the secret project. I have all the materials I need for these projects.

March 10th. I’ve decided to attend Gulf Wars in Gleann Abhann (specifically in Hattiesburg, MS). I generally have enough garb as I was headed to Gulf Wars (and an hour from site) in 2020 when the pandemic closed the US down. but I do have a few things on the agenda to do: (1) Complete travelling outfit 2.0 to be entered into the A&S Championship. This requires a kosode, kyohan (leg protectors), and a kake-obi. I have all the materials for this. (2) Make a linen asetori (undergarment/sweat wicking garment) I’ll need to order linen. (3) Fix my partner’s hakama; the ties need to be redone. (4) A Viking undertunic and a pair of pants for my partner (also requires linen to be ordered). (5) Pretty cloth masks to go over our kn-95s. (6) Inventory/Organize Wardrobe and pack garb.

April 7th. I have a potential commission due. The proposal goes out this weekend.

May 25th. The time travel outfits. One full Viking and one full 16th century Scots ensembles for me, and a new doublet for my partner.

June. I’m part of the team making the wardrobe for Their Royal Highnesses. My contribution is due in June.

Annotated Bibliography will happen over time.

Eboshi (hat) happens when it happens.

Still dragging my feet on starting the Genji Project. I have revised it, and I now think it is best spread out a bit over two years. The 1 year timeline was just not feasible with all I want to do. And that’s just fine. I’ve also listened to the librivox recording for the fifth time. The recording is of the translation by Suematsu Kencho, the first to translate it into English, but it’s just the first 17 chapters (there are 54), and it’s not exactly faithful to the original. He states in his introduction that he has cut bits out. Still worthwhile. I learn something new with each listen, and have purchased the paperback.

So there’s a lot to do…

A Tang Inspired Scroll

On July 11, Lady Phaedra de Vere was inducted into the East Kingdom’s Order of the Silver Wheel for her service. With Þorfinn Hróðgeirsson’s words, I created a Tang Chinese inspired scroll for the occasion. This was my first scroll for the East Kingdom.

Gouache on Pergamenata

This was the most difficult scroll I’ve ever completed. I failed twice in its making. I lost faith in myself and my skill at times. But with the help of dear friends I kept going, and in the end it came out beautifully. And the recipient is very happy which is the most important part. What follows is the timeline of events leading to the completed scroll with progress photos.

Thursday, March 18 – I receive word that a dear friend is to be inducted into the East Kingdom’s Order of the Silver Wheel. An image forms in my mind for the scroll. I see the recipient, resplendent in her Tang garb gazing into a pond that reflects the moon as the silver wheel she is being awarded. Her heraldry is a white lily, so I muse that including white lilies might be nice.

Friday, March 19 – I reach out to the Tyger Clerk to volunteer to create the scroll.

Sunday, March 21 – Instructions for how to officially volunteer for scrolls are provided. In my excitement, I misunderstand the instructions and started happily working on the scroll. I reach out on the SCA Scribes and Illuminators group on Facebook to find a calligrapher. I have a few offers and recommendations from that group. The post is briefly shared to a group the recipient is in. I fret that the surprise has been blown.

Monday, March 22 – A translator that had been recommended reached out to me. Information was shared and as they know the recipient, and agreed to compose an appropriate poem for the occasion. I order two each of two different premounted scroll blanks. I reached out to someone who offered help with research and composition. And I am indebted to Taylor Chen for their assistance. I’m in luck that my initial idea can be done in a decidedly period fashion. My artistic consultation provides a plethora of research options and a crash course in Tang culture and art. I create a webpage for my scribal work so the Scribal Office can see my past work, and fill out the forms to be an official East Kingdom Scribe.

Thursday, March 25 – The scroll blanks have arrived! Oddly enough, the slightly smaller scroll blank is my preference. It is backed in silk while the slightly larger is backed with paper. (I somehow fail to notice that the larger is paper for the ground as well.) I also like the darker contrast fabric framing the cream silk around the paintable area more than the solid white one.

Luckily I will be able to use my new lightpad with either, and that relieves some of my stress knowing that I won’t have to freehand the whole thing. I need to start sketching soon, as the image/painting needs to be complete before I can send it to the calligrapher. I’m terribly excited (and a little nervous) about the whole project. I think I’d like to get the illumination (painted) portion of the scroll finished no later than the end of April so there are 2 full months available for the calligraphy.

March 27 – After an email from the Tyger Clerk, I realize that I was working on the scroll prior to having the official assignment. It causes me some anxiety that I had made that kind of mistake, but is sorted when I then receive the official assignment email.

March 28 – I confirm the official assignment. The scroll is due July 4th, so I relax my end of April deadline a little to May.

April 1 – Last night the person writing the words sent the first draft of the poem. It’s amazing. And beautiful. And so well researched and constructed. They’ve taken the generic scroll text I came up with and created a poem in an ancient Chinese style IN CHINESE. I am in awe of this individual’s talent.

April 2 – I’ve essentially finished my research phase of the project. I have a curated selection of period images and a couple from later but still within SCA period as well as a modern painting or two. The later period examples (circa 1500) are for style suggestions, and a cheeky but hopefully subtle inspiration from paintings of the goddess of the moon. The modern painting details lilies. I have a Tang reference image, provided by Taylor, but the modern one shows a detail in use of colour that I think I would like to emulate. I’ve also done an initial sketch of the scroll, full size. I’m encouraged by it. I’m going to alter the figure’s stance to emulate a Tang image of a court lady, the farthest left from Zhou Fang’s Court Ladies Adorning Their Hair With Flowers. I plan to have the figure holding a long handled paddle fan. I aim to complete at least one sketch per day until I have the final image.

April 3 – Second sketch done. This is more a line drawing than a sketch. I think I have the proportions right, the angles all look good. The pond is discernably a pond. The lady actually looks like she’s looking into the pond. I stretched the silver wheel “reflection” just slightly and tried to match the angle of the water to good effect. There’s this beautiful line created through the composition from the moon through the figure’s gaze and into the pond’s reflection that just makes me SO happy. This is not the line angled through the piece, that was to mark off the space for text. I spend just a moment wondering how to detail the hands before sketching the long-handled paddle fan in. It’s perfect. The next iteration will detail the hair.

April 11 – Third iteration complete. I based the hair on the recipient’s wig called “Steve.” I share a picture with the person who helped me with research. They suggest that the leaves of the lilies blow in the breeze as the figure’s scarf is “fluttering in the breeze”. I make the change and it gives the image a wonderful sense of movement.

And then I could not art for a month.

May 14 – I “complete” the final line drawing. This is the version that is ready for transferring onto the scroll. It does not yet have the patterns for the fabric details as I’m mulling those over.

May 15 – The calligrapher may have an issue.

May 23 – The wordsmith wants a little time for rewrites. Not a problem as I no longer have a calligrapher to write his words. Herein starts a mad scramble to find a new one. Spoiler alert, I don’t.

May 24 – I briefly lose my mind about the project. I consider redesigning to a late period English style. I seek advice from a friend who helps me break everything down and be much more rational about the whole thing. I owe His Lordship Roibeard mac Neill mhic Ghille Eoin a great debt. He asks for progress reports in return.

May 25 – Baroness Audrye Beneyt begins her 25 minutes for 25 days challenge. I use it as a prompt to get the scroll completed, sort of.

May 30 – Practice image created on scrap silk using ground Chinese ink.

Image transferred to the scroll blank. I first taped the line drawing to the lightpad and then the scroll blank over that. It was traced directly onto the silk with freshly ground ink.

And then I stared at it for days. And I mixed the paint colors.

June 7 – I let the wordsmith know I’m unable to secure a replacement calligrapher. I ask if they mind if I do it. I’m confident I can copy the characters legibly.

And then I stared at it some more.

June 10 – The recording session in which the recipient is awarded her silver wheel happens tonight. She was very surprised.

June 11 – I add fabric details to the line drawing and tape down the practice silk to cardboard. I did not take photos of progress on the practice silk.

June 12 – Base paint layer of white added. Green added to lilies. That halo of white around the moon is a portent of things to come. Cue my anxiety over how much the paint is going to bleed. I’ve painted silk before, but not quite like this. The nagging doubt I had about how well the “prepared” scroll blank was actually prepared seems warranted.

June 14 – Skin, hair, moon and flower in the hair painted. Minimal bleeding.

June 16 – Water, lower skirt and wheel painted. The bleeding of the paint is slight, but it has me very worried. I paint the band at the bust and want to cry. But I think it’s still salvageable.

June 18 – Painted in the large color block and the paint bled very badly. I reach out to a different friend to see if it’s as bad as I think. She confirms what I already know.

Baroness Audrye’s Challenge ends, and instead of a finished scroll, the scroll has to be started over. Fail one. I attempted to use the paper scroll blank and found very quickly that it would have the same bleeding issues. Fail two. At least fail two was quick and relatively painless.

So I changed the proportions of the image just slightly, lowering the moon and changing the pond bank on the right side and transferred the image onto pergamenata. I also correct a mistake in the skirts that I found after zooming in to see the fabric details on the lower skirt. Because of the resize I left the lilies off as they would need a bit of redrawing to fit properly, and since I was redrawing them, I decided to pull them more in line with the period images as I think they look very western. In the end, I decided to leave them off entirely.

June 19 – First layers of paint added to the scroll.

June 21 – Another layer of white base on the figure, moon and wheel. Flower and water painted.

June 23 – Silver added to the moon and wheel. Large color block is painted. The perg has gone wavy on me despite being taped to my lightpad. The scroll is in an “ugly phase” and I worry that I’ve created another failed attempt. I go to the art supply store and buy all new brushes.

June 24 – Lower skirt painted.

June 25 – Repainting the lower skirt, moon, wheel and flower. Detail at the bust painted.

June 26 – Gold details added. I also used a brush with just a little water to “erase” a bit of paint from the figure’s shoulder. Pattern added to underdress. The scarf has been given another coat of white. The fan is given another coat of white, this time on top of the gold of the handle/support to create a sheer fabric effect. Tiny black details added to the gold in the lower skirt.

I add white and black details to the headdress and begin the black outlining with the headdress and moon.

Black outline and details added. Makeup and face details painted.

June 27 – Necklace painted. The illumination part of the scroll is complete.

June 29 – I am not a calligrapher. I have always “drawn” any calligraphy I’ve done. I have no experience with Chinese calligraphy and barely any practice in Japanese calligraphy. I know that my brushstrokes will not be in the right order or even direction, but I know that I can copy the characters and they will be legible. First, practice. I can’t get the detail I need with a traditional brush. I practice the calligraphy with an archival brush pen and then with an 18/0 round brush and gouache. My lines are more fine and clear with the paint.

June 30 – The calligraphy is complete and with it, the scroll.

The first person who got to see it was the wordsmith. The two people I took into my confidence so I could ask for artistic help were given sneak peeks. I take the best picture I can of it and send that off with the words to the appropriate place.

July 1 – I create a scroll holder out of foam core boards, copy paper and masking tape to protect the scroll until it is delivered.

July 11 – The scroll image is shown in court. The recipient loves it.

July 12 – Scroll delivered to the Vox.

Big lessons learned:

(1) ALWAYS zoom in as far as you can on your examples. There are some small changes I made in the finished version of the scroll that would have been made into bigger changes earlier in the process if I had zoomed ALL the way in.

(2) It’s good to have someone to talk to about a secret project.

(3) Practice. I already knew this one, but we can all use the reminder.

(4) Always have a backup plan. And a backup to your backup. The final scroll was my plan C.

(5) Invest in your tools. They really make a difference. This project was made so much easier with new high quality brushes and a great lightpad. My ring light was also invaluable.

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