Illuminating Letters and Fantastic Beasts

I recently started a decorative lettering and illumination class at the local art school.  We have been decorating letters and wandering into the world of bestiary.  

Practicing Decorated Letters 

This letter started out as an M.  We decorated the background of this beautiful Canal paper from St. Armand's Paper, in Montreal.  I added a border and painted it and the letter with a gold calligraphy ink.  

When I turned the letter upside down, it looked much better as a W.  

  The letter L was the second letter I decorated.  I used water colours and acrylic paint for the colours and a pigment pen for the decorative drawings on the top, bottom and sides.  

We moved into hidden letters.  Here is my hidden b.  For this one I used an imitation gold leaf for the top background, acrylic bronze for the bottom and water colour for the parts in between.  

This was a more contemporary piece of lettering.  Using our own initials, we were asked to create something different.  I had fun with the colours in this one: using water colours and acrylic paint.


We moved into discovering Medieval bestiary.  

This was my first attempt at creating an animal.  I will do a better copy of this one in the future.  I used bronze acrylic paint for the background, and water colours for the horse.  Outlining was done with a pigment pen. 

The Griffin was the next Medieval beast I attempted to create.  I had a lot of fun doing this one.  There was an amazing amount of detail in the wing - all good practice for future pieces. 

Ulitharid is a made-up piece.  The instructor asked each of us to draw a head on a piece of paper, fold it over and then pass it to the person next to us.  This person then drew another part of the anatomy, without seeing the first piece, and so it went until we each had a fantastic beast to work with.  I transferred this image to tracing paper and filled in the detail.  The name comes from a list of bestiary animals and their characteristics.  I decided this one looks especially good in the letter U.  I coloured it with water colours and calligraphy ink. 


The instructor showed us how to decorate the background of a piece by running different water colours down the page.  

This one reminded me of a sea shore, so I added sea shells, some pebbles and the lyrics to the song, By the Sea came to mind.  I wrote the chorus on the page. 

This one reminded me of a sunrise or sunset.  I used the lyrics from the song by the same name to decorate this piece.  


In my last blog I wrote about Hordra and The Web Spinner.  I finally bound the book with a beautiful red and gold Japanese paper and used some beautiful marbled paper, by a local artist, for the paste downs - front and back.  

The Cover 

The marbled paste down 

That's all the news for now.  I have been enjoying this class a great deal.  Adding two new skill sets (printing and illuminating) to my book making has been very rewarding.  I have been wanting to learn these skills for a very long time.  

You can find my work at: 

Ottawa School of Art Boutique on George Street in Ottawa, Ontario 

The Ottawa Art Gallery on Daly Avenue in Ottawa, Ontario.  

You can also contact me at: if you have any questions or would like to inquire about my work.  

Wishing you all well, until next time



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