Dear Friends:

I have just accepted a longstanding invitation from the administrators of this web log to join as a contributor. Some of you may be familiar with my work from my web site, www.danielmitsui.com; my web log, The Lion & the Cardinal, or my interview with John Herreid that appeared here last year.

Below is a scan and a description of one of my recent works.

This illuminated page was drawn in colored inks on Bristol board. The drawing is 6" wide and 8" tall, centered on an 8" x 10" piece of Bristol board. I drew it in black ink using art pens, and colored it using various combinations and dilutions of calligraphers' inks, applied with fine watercolor brushes. The words, the first half of the Ave Maria in Latin, were drawn by hand in mediaeval textura quadrata letters.

The haloes and certain other elements are authentic gold leaf. I painted the areas to be gilded with glue, let them dry, applied the leaf using tweezers and a large paintbrush, and then brushed away the excess. This method has worked well for me on several projects, although I hope in the future to use the more traditional method for raised and burnished gold, which requires layers of rabbit skin glue-based gesso and Armenian bole.

The central picture is of the Annunciation by Gabriel to the Blessed Virgin Mary in the style of late mediaeval illuminated manuscripts. It combines elements from two famous works by the Brothers Limbourg: the Très Riches Heures and the Belles Heures, both made for the Duke of Berry in the early 15th century.

The roundels in the border depict events that are theologically linked to the Annunciation: Mary's Ave is the undoing of Eva's disobedience; the Burning Bush before Moses, the Flowering of Aaron's Rod and the Miracle of Gideon's Fleece prefigure the Virginal Conception in the Old Testament. These were directly inspired by the Speculum Humanae Salvationis and the liturgical sequence Missus Gabriel de Coelis by Adam of St. Victor.

The border uses sea kelp and aquatic creatures as decorative elements. Some of these have established symbolism: starfish represent Mary, the Star of the Sea; chambered nautili have symbolized perfection since ancient times; and the sand dollar has long been read as a symbol of Christ.

I drew this on speculation, and issued a limited-edition giclée print of it.

Click here for a larger image.


Herreid said...

WELCOME! It's great to have you here! As I said in my interview with you, I really love your art.

I've been interested in trying gold leaf on some projects as well. It it particularly difficult?

Also fascinated by the etchings you've posted over on your site. Maybe you could do a how-to post for those of us who are interested.


Daniel Mitsui said...


Thank you.

There are different methods for gold leaf. The one that I used on this project is the simplest, and it's not particularly difficult once you practice it a little; basically. You brush a sticky glue over every area to be leafed, and once it dries, you tear off a small piece of leaf with tweezers and lay it on top of the sticky area.

Then you pat it down with a paintbrush, and with a smaller paintbrush brush away the excess. Then repeat to cover the flaws.

There is a more elaborate method for raised gold, which has the advantage that it can be burnished to a smoother surface. But this requires gesso and bole, and I have not yet tried it.

As for the etchings, I'll write about them once I've figured them out myself. Initial tests are promising, but I have a lot of work to do still.

J.R.Howley said...

Welcome Daniel.