This article is part of the series “How to make a medieval girdle book“.
Painting one of the miniatures
First of all you need to find templates for painting miniatures, this one’s a painting from the Codex Manesse. The colours are water colours, mixed with egg white – if you keep them in small bottles with droppers in the fridge, the colour keeps fresh for several days.
It would certainly have been more authentic if I had used colour pigments manufactured after old recipes. You can obtain those historical pigments in specialised shops. However, some of those pigments require a special permit because they are highly toxic, e.g. lead- or mercury-containing pigments (e.g., lead white). Umberto Eco’s “The Name of the Rose” spontaneously came to my mind – then I decided on my simple watercolour pigments.
I drew the first guiding lines in pencil and transferred the original, tracing it with a very fine brush and thorn ink. Then I coloured the persons’ clothing and hair once with basic colours. The colours are translucent at first. After a few coatings they become more and more opaque so that you can get really nice shadings.
I then added details, like the belts and garlands in gold,
then I added the trees with pencil first, then with thorn crust ink.
I repeated that with the second half of the picture (which actually is a separate painting out of the Codex Manesse): tracing the outlines first…
then colouring the clothing, hair and similar…
… and at last I added the fine details and contours. The whole picture is approximately 10 inches wide and 6 inches high and took me about two and a half hours to paint.
Just recently I found a few colouring books for adults, and guess what I saw in there? Medieval-ish artwork very similar to my painting above… Those books of course save you the hassle to convert the medieval painting into an outlined colouring page. Just give it a try, some of the books contain really really beautiful sceneries 🙂