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May 17 - Bran's knighting scroll progress

Ugh, the burnout is real, plus I've been crazy busy with other projects that have kept me from the scribal table. But I've made a little progress on Bran's scroll, and I wanted to share that before another month went by. After finishing the miniature in the previous blog post, it was time to start on this one; I worked first on the background, and then worked my way "forward" in the image.

The picture itself is a composite of several images within the original manuscript; as Alexander is a king himself, we see a lot of pictures of him in his war pavilion, speaking with other knights or kings. It wasn't too difficult to put together an image wherein he knights a kneeling figure, while other men in armor look on and musicians play in the background.

I'm once again using terre vert for the green, and a limited palette of colors that I won't have to mix very often. The inside of the tent will have a fine white filigree, both to set it apart from the grass and to match the "brocade" of the outside of the tent.

It took a while to get all the base colors laid in, a couple sessions as I recall, but all in all I was pretty happy with the results. Using a composite image meant that sometimes I had to look at my reference pictures and take a guess at what colors would look best in different areas. The kneeling figure needs to represent Bran, so he gets white and black, but the two standing men in armor off to the left need to stand out a bit from the background, so I needed to choose the colors for them carefully.

Here we are with about half of the detail added, in yellow, brown, and black. I especially like the character that the "weeds" add to the green foreground.

And here we are with as much detail as I think I'm going to do for the overall image. I think the white on the green inside the tent is perhaps a little too heavy, but it's not something I can really just go back and fix, and I'm not completely unhappy with it anyway; it's just heavier than what you would see in the original image. The original image also had heavy black ruling on the background grid in between the squares, but I laid the gesso for the gold thickly enough that I think I won't be able to get straight lines if I tried to go back and rule it now. I also kind of like the look of the unruled grid because it pushes it more to the "back" of the image and helps the tent and figures stand out. So the outside of the picture, the gold "frame", will get a black outline, and then this miniature will be finished as well.

These two miniatures (this one and the one from my previous blog post), are in the two columns of text on the right half of this entire art piece. There are still initials and border vine work to add, a couple of hunting dogs in the margins, that kind of thing, but once those are done, I'll be ready to switch to the left half of the piece. That has only one miniature, but it's double-sized: an enormous and complex battle scene that takes up both of the columns of text on the left side.

I bit off more than I can chew, honestly, but as the saying goes, you can eat an entire elephant if you just go one bite at a time, and that's what I've been trying to do. A little here and there, every time I have the energy and drive to face this monster. I made a promise to myself to never, ever leave a piece unfinished or abandoned, and I take that seriously. This one is just harder not only because of its size, but because I had to start it over after the first version of it was destroyed in 2020.

In a hobby like ours, it's easy to only work on things when you feel like it, or guilt trip yourself out of working on them at all, or let perfect be the enemy of good. The end result is that there are way too many artists who don't finish what they start. Don't get me wrong--this is a hobby that is supposed to be fun. It is perfectly fins to try something and decide that it's not your thing, drop it, and move on. However, it is less fine to make a promise to someone else that you would commit to completing a project for them, and then never touch it for years at a time. I've seen that happen too many times, and I don't want it to happen to me or my clients.

Ah well, that's a soapbox for another day. For now, enjoy the pictures of what I have managed to complete, so far, despite my reluctance. And thank you for the encouragement you have sent my way!

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