Illuminated Manuscripts with Phillip Martin
Lesson Plan
Learner Outcomes:
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Understand that colors can be transparent and opaque
Understand that color schemes can be analogous, monochromatic and complementary
Understand that complementary colors neutralize each other
Appreciate that line is used to represent the world around us
Appreciate that positive and negative space is used to enhance aesthetics
Appreciate that texture is used to enhance realism
Appreciate that texture is used to enhance aesthetics
Realize that the contrast of value (tone) causes eye movement
Appreciate the difference between unity and monotony in art
25 sets of handouts with examples of illuminated manuscripts and lettering
25 sheets of drawing paper 9" x 12"
25 pencils
25 erasers
25 brushes
25 sets of water colors assorted colored pencils
25 thin black markers
Transparent, Opaque, Analogous, Monochromatic, and Complementary Colors, Line, Positive and Negative Space, Value, Unity, Monotony

In this activity students select a favorite quote, poem, saying, or song to reproduce as a Renaissance or Byzantine Illuminated Manuscript. Assemble some handouts for your students that have examples of Illuminated Manuscripts. (In my experience, it's not too hard to find this information on a Google Image search.) Students will need these to have original material on hand in order to create authentic detail in their work.

In addition to the manuscripts, assemble handouts with samples of calligraphy for students to practice.

In my experience, most students HATE practicing the calligraphy. So, 15 to 20 minutes is a maximum amount of time for this each lesson. I use lined paper. Lower case letters are two spaces in height and upper case letters should be four. There will be exceptions with lower case letters that have long stems (h, f, g) and some upper case letters have an extra flourish.

After calligraphy practice, they may work on their manuscript design. The actual illuminated letter must take up approximately one-fourth of the drawing area. The Illuminated Manuscript should have a one inch border that goes around the page. (I have the kids place their rulers on the paper and trace the opposite side of the ruler.) It is important that the theme of border and the illuminated letter should match the content of the quote.

Although the actual illuminated letter is important, students will also be evaluated on the neatness of their overall lettering of the quote. I personally prefer colored pencils for the artwork, but water colors, markers or a combination could be used. Upon completion, the work needs to be outlined with a fine black marker.

Helpful hint: Depending on time constraints, there is a shortcut that I've sometimes used. If the border is 1 1/4 inches on all sides, a sheet of bond paper should cover the interior space. You can cut out the interior space, print the quote on the computer, and tape the paper with the quote on the back. (The sample at the top of this page was done like this.)

It takes some practice to get the quotes to fit. I've found it best if I type the quote for the students. Some students (the really dedicated ones) still like to hand draw their letters. Still, the computer printout helps them with spacing of the words on the paper.

Copyright 2000, revised 2012 by Phillip Martin All rights reserved.