Kingdom Arms by Robin of Thornwood Calligraphy by Robin of Thornwood Populous Badge by Robin of Thornwood

The Firebird1188 views2016-03-20. Order of the Leaf of Merit (a West Kingdom service award) scroll for Mistress Robin of Thornwood on black paper with permanent white ink, gouache, and aluminum leaf. The scroll measures 9 x 12 inches and took eleven hours to complete, not counting several hours of research, layout, and practice writing.Tatiana Nikolaevna
Twelve Scrolls For Twelfth Night15 views2016-03-16. Countess Eliska z Jihlavy, Chancellor of Scribes, issued a challenge to the College of Scribes on January 6th, 2015, to produce 12 scrolls over the upcoming year, to be completed by the next 12th Night Coronation. As a reward, the winner would be given a prize: a scroll done by one or more Western Laurels for their own. This idea was worthy of great merit and I volunteered to collaborate on or produce that scroll.
I had been pondering a couple of “Russian lacquer box” scroll ideas based on fairy tales, either the Snow Maiden or the Firebird, and figured out by crafty means that Robin would like the Firebird. Here’s the drafting of the majuscule letter and first run-through in pencil of the text.
Tatiana Nikolaevna
Tsarevich Ivan Grabs The Birdie20 views2016-03-16. The layout is sketched up on tracing paper so I can see how it fits around the block of text and leaving enough room for signatures and the Kingdom seal. To transfer it to the black paper, the back of the sketch was rubbed with chalk, then gone over again with a pencil from the front. This left a chalky outline on the black paper, which was gone over with a white colored pencil, then the loose chalk was brushed off.Tatiana Nikolaevna
R Is For Robin20 views2016-03-17. The first run of the calligraphy is done; later this will be painted over but I didn’t know what the color would be as yet. Two coats of gesso were laid down on the areas to be gilded: first a plain white coat, then a second coat which had yellow ochre added to it. The firebird glows of its own light so I took some chalk and began indicating areas which would be lit by the light from the firebird and its glowing feather.Tatiana Nikolaevna
The Tsar’s Garden At Midnight16 views2016-03-18. Tsarevich (“Prince”) Ivan snags a feather from the firebird filching golden apples in the middle of the night, so everything in the scene needed to be dark and shadowy, except the areas illuminated by the firebird’s glow. The landscape is painted in dark greens (Prussian blue + cadmium yellow medium + alizarin crimson) but with a lot of ultramarine blue added to cool it down. The father away the scene gets, the lighter it gets and the less saturated color it has. But not too light, because it’s dark in the garden. Gold size was painted over the gesso, left to dry for 5 minutes, and then 22 karat gold leaf was applied and burnished.Tatiana Nikolaevna
Fleshing Out The Prince17 views2016-03-18. The background is mostly done and work is underway on the figure. I did a lot of subsequent fiddling about with Ivan’s hands and averted face and never did get it quite right. But it was starting to take shape. All of the reds, except those areas being lit up, were cool reds: cadmium red deep and alizarin crimson, although I was having trouble getting a really good dark red. And while things were lit, there still wasn’t a good contrast in the values as yet. It needed darker darks and lighter lights!Tatiana Nikolaevna
The Coveted Golden Apple Tree15 views2016-03-18. I was getting frustrated by Ivan so switched over to the tree with the golden apples (the firebird was stealing a golden apple every night, pesky bird!). Did a lot more work on the leaves and branches, figured out where the apples were going to go, and changed the line of the trunk as it was intersecting too perfectly with the prince’s head. Darkened up all the shadowed areas on Ivan, warmed and brightened all the lit areas. Futzed with his right hand and face a bit more – aw, still not right, but better. Started punching up the grass around Ivan, making it greener, warmer, and lighter, which made the shadows look darker. Oh, and figured out that the King’s name was misspelled in the text, so fixed that. Idiot! (me, not the King)Tatiana Nikolaevna
Beautiful, Sneaky Bird17 views2016-03-19. Time to get the firebird done. The gold leaf was outlined with cadmium orange, then detailing was done using shades of cad. red medium, then cad. red deep, then magenta and alizarin crimson, with glair added to the gouache to make it stick. The golden apples were put in and each highlighted with a bit of gold mica so they would be shiny at certain angles and the majuscule was outlined with cad. red deep. At this point I knew I wanted the text to be done in a cool red – yellow would be too bright, as was orange.Tatiana Nikolaevna
Shiny!15 views2016-03-19. I was wondering if the cad. red deep was just too dark. I didn’t want a warm red because I wanted the firebird to be the biggest, brightest, warmest, glowy-est thing there. So I put the scroll into sunlight – oh, that’s much better! Still, that red was awfully dark, although I consoled myself that people generally just aren’t that interested in the text on these things, they like to look at the purty pictures. And they're going to look at that firebird, you bet, because it’s lighting up everything. But then I had a brainstorm... how about if the firebird’s glow lit up the text, too?Tatiana Nikolaevna
Glowing Text18 views2016-03-19. Yay! Problem solved! That draws the eye over there, plus the use of the same colors integrates the text into the entire composition. A little more dark on the figure (added a smidge of cold dark green to the cold dark red and it got even darker), and it was done. Unfortunately, the Kingdom herald refused my request that a seal be poured out separately and then cemented to the artwork, so I had to fill in the spot where it would have gone, which kinda messed with the composition. Curses and other comments. But overall, I was pleased with how it turned out. FYI, the lines for the signatures were painted red after it was signed (and wasn’t that an adventure, painting over itty bitty letters after dark in the Royal pavilion, lit by a very inadequate lantern plus one cell phone screen), as were the signatures themselves. That couldn’t be done beforehand as you don’t want ink getting anywhere near gouache; the dry pigment will suck the ink right out of the pen’s reservoir and result in a huge inky blob.Tatiana Nikolaevna
Zvorykin And Bilibin, O My!68 views2016-03-19. Many artists have illustrated the tale of “Tsarevich Ivan, the Firebird, and the Grey Wolf” so there’s a lot of material out there to look at. I modeled my Ivan on Boris Zvorykin’s, and the firebird roughly after Ivan Bilibin’s version (after adjusting its farther wing to fit the area in the margin). I loved working on these little black “Russian Lacquer Box” scrolls and it would have been fun to do some more: the small size is really nice, too!Tatiana Nikolaevna
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