Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Illuminated Letter

An Illumination is an embellishment, or additional decoration that enhances the pges of a written, or manuscript page.  The term, illumination comes from the term illuminate, or to fill with light.  This effect is achieved with the applications of gold leaf to the letters and images, which reflect light and appear to glow.  An illuminated letter was usually the first letter of a page or paragraph.  It was always enlarged and in color iwth gold applied in areas, while the rest of the text remained black.  The images used to enhance the letters include animals, plants and mythological creatures.  These images were modified to fit into or around the letter, or in some cases took on the shape of the letter itself.  

The modern counterpart to the illuminated letter is known as a drop cap.  The first letter of a paragraph that is enlarged to "drop" down two or more lines, as in the next paragraph. Drop caps are often seen at the beginning of novels, where the top of the first letter of the first word lines up with the top of the first sentence and drops down to the four or fifth sentence.

So this next project involves creating an illuminated letter/drop cap that represents a person who has a recognizable artistic influence.  The following are 6 artists that I have chosen to study in order to recreate a drop cap with their initials.

Fillipo Brunelleschi: Italian architect of the early 15th century.  Dome of the Florence Cathedral, sacristy of the church of San Lorenzo in Florence

Gustave Caillebotte: french painter late 1800's, Paris Rainy Day

Roy Lichtenstein: american pop artist 1960's.  Oh Jeff!

Bradbury Thompson: american graphic design of the early 21st: washburn bible

Robert Smithson: american land artist of the mid 1900's.  spiral jetty

Georgia O'Keeffe: 20th century american painter: red canna

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