Monday, February 22, 2010


I have been researching and planning a lesson on illuminated manuscript lettering since last year. This year I finally dove in and taught it to my 5th graders. First I showed them this presentation by Amy Bruce an art teacher in Fairfax County. I really liked how it went over the history and the many roles artists had as trades people in the Middle Ages. I have a reproduction of the Book of Kells which I showed them some examples of celtic knot work and how creatures were entertwined into the letters.

I had a packet ready for them with handouts I got from The Incredible Art Department site. You can find them here. I also included a few enlarged fonts (Cloister, Storybook, Unicorn and Calligrapher) to help them get started. They sketched their letter and added the decoration in pencil. Then they used watercolor pencils and metallic paint. For a nice finished look they used Sharpies and Le Pen markers to complete. Today was the first class finished. I am looking forward to what the next 3 classes have in store. I also made a point to finish my sample. Many times once the kids are on the right track my sample gets put away with the lesson. Here is my sample and a few of the kids work:

4 comments (+add yours?)

Lis said...

OMG! These are simply amazing! I too am fascinated by medieval manuscript illumination and love love love the interpretation of those forms here. Thank you for the great links too!

Have you heard of or seen the St. John's Bible?

It is a modern project to create an illuminated, illustrated bible using traditional techniques. It is fascinating to read about the way the artist's developed their visual interpretation of text.

Your students are very lucky to have such an inspired teacher!

Tisha Smith said...

Perfect! I just decided yesterday that I'd teach an illuminated letter lesson to my son's class et voila...I see your post today!(thanks I'll use the info.) and I actually came to your blog looking for your Artsonia info. again, wow - another "tisha" connection.

tishalou said...

Thanks! All four 5th grades have finished and should be linked up on Artsonia by Monday. I am going to post a few more of my favorites here.

Tisha Smith said...

Hi There,
We did simpler version of Illuminated lettering this week & I linked back to here on my post today. Thanks again for sharing!

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