Romancing the Archetype: Scribe

March 7, 2011

mulling Dragon's blood

Image Credit: Lapis & Gold: Unlocking the Secrets of Medieval Illumination

My song written on immortal leaves
tree of knowledge, tree of life
holds your hidden name

In the word was the beginning

~Prayer of Seshat

Aurum musicum (also, Mosaic Gold)–a medieval imitation gold, chemical formula SnS2. Modern equivalent would be a gold gouache.

Azurite–a blue. Substitute Ultramarine, Cobalt Blue, or Cerulean Blue.

Blue Verditer (or Bice)–similar to Azurite, but with a greenish cast; now obsolete. Try Phthalocyanine Blue or Phthalocyanine Green (as verditer could also be quite greenish, depending on its manufacture), according to the piece; also, try the substitutions suggested for azurite, especially cerulean and cobalt, as they have a greenish undertone.

Brazilwood–a synthetic dye is available; it is a deep, cherry red. In the Middle Ages, Brazilwood made a wider variety of colors, depending on the additions or ommissions of various substances in the course of making the paint. The colors ran from brown to rose. Alizarin paints are of similar colors.

Cinnabar–an obsolete pigment, dark orange-red. Use the Cadmium reds.

Cochineal (or Carmine Lake)–I have found and ground cochineal (it’s a bug), but in the tube… well… Substitute the synthetic Carmine or Alizarin Crimson or Alizarin Carmine.

Cologne Earth (Or Cullen’s Earth)— a brown known today as Vandyke Brown. Not in use until late period.

Dragon’s Blood–a darkish red, made from a resin produced by a palm tree. Recently discovered as a watercolor in the “Maimeri” line; this watercolor is the same in hue as Venetian Red or English Red. Also found as a dry pigment. The Dragonsblood pigment is slightly lighter than Venetian Red, and, if not available, may be imitated by the addition of white to Venetian Red should you desire an opaque paint. Be aware that in period, this color was often extremely faint and was used to tint gold a slight red, for the Medieval eye preferred a reddish cast to gold. You would be closer in approximating dragonsblood by thinning a mix of Venetian Red and Alizarine Crimson to wash consistancy and brushing it over your gold. In fact, the modern use of dragonsblood is still pretty much the same; the resin is dissolved by being heated in Damar varnish and used to give a red tint to metals.

Exudra–a brown; mix from Lamp Black and Red Ochre.

Flesh-color–In Theophilus, generally mixed from lead white, cinnibar, and massicot. Modern equivalent would be Flesh.

Gallstone–a deep, transparent yellow. Try Gamboge or New Gamboge.

Gamboge–a yellow still available as a watercolor; however, Winsor & Newton makes a color called “New Gamboge” which is of similar appearance and greater opacity and lightfastness.

Indigo–a very dark blue, still available, initally used as a substitute for woad.

Lead White (or Ceruse)–as an oil paint, available by the name of Flake White. In illumination, substitute Chinese White for mixing and Titanium White for painting.

Malachite–a green, no longer available. Substitute Viridian Green mixed with Cadmium Yellow.

Minium (aka Red Lead)–a bright red-orange, no longer available; mix Venetian Red with a little Cadmium Yellow.

Massicot (or Litharge)–a yellow, no longer available. Use Naples Yellow, or mix yellow orchre with white and perhaps a touch of light red.

Ochers–a variety of earth pigments, still available; Yellow Ocher and Red Ocher (also called, in the Middle Ages, Burnt Ochre) are the most useful in the medieval palette.

Orpiment–a yellow that is “obsolete”, but you can still get the dry pigment. This is among the most dangerous, poisonious of all pigments, so you might want to go with Hansa Yellow (aka Permanent Yellow), Cadmium Yellow, or Gamboge, depending on what you can find.

Ostrum (or Byzantium Purple or Grecian Purple or Tyrian Purple)–purple produced from mollusk shells. A synthetic form was developed in 1904, and is currently available.

Realgar (or Red Orpiment or Sandaraca)–another obsolete red-orange which may be mimicked by use of the Cadmium Reds.

Rose–per Theophilus, a mix of medieval “flesh-tone” plus more cinnabar and minium. You can try mixing it from scratch with the various colors suggested in this article, or try mixing modern Flesh with Cadmium Red.

Saffron–a brilliant yellow, too expensive to get much use as an independent color, but occassionally used in inital letters, to give a warmer tone to some paints, and to cover tin to make an imitation gold leaf. Substitute a yellow appropriate to your piece.

Sap Green–is still available as a watercolor.

Siennas–easily available earth pigments. Raw Sienna is a yellowish brown and Burnt Sienna is a dark reddish brown. Siennas don’t come into use until late period.

Sinopia–a somewhat obscure red; no one is quite sure which color this is, except to speculate that it is an earth-type red. Try any of the earth reds, then: Red Ochre, English Red, Indian Red, Venetian Red. It will be a nice experiment, actually, as each of the above earth reds is a distinctly different color.

Smalt–made from ground cobalt glass. Hilliard didn’t much care for this color, as it was a bit grey in comparison to true Lapis blue. Use Ultramarine, perhaps with a touch of white to grey the color.

Smoke Black–use Lamp Black in the modern era, or Vegitable Black if you can find it.

Terre Verte (or Terre Verde or Green Earth)–a green, still available. Can be imitated by mixing Chromium Oxide with white. In Cennini, terre verte, when mixed with white gives “sage green”, which, if to be lightened, must be lightened with yellow.

Ultramarine Blue–originally made by grinding Lapis Lazuli, it is now produced synthetically.

Umbers–easily available earth pigments. Raw Umber is a yellowish brown, and Burnt Umber is dark reddish brown. Umbers don’t come into use until late period.

Venda–a gray. Mix Lamp Black with Chinese White, or use one of the neutral grays available in most lines of gouache.

Verdigris–a light, bluish green, no longer made. Mix Cobalt Blue with Viridian Green. Salt Green and Spanish Green are both types of Verdigris, and so may be imitated as if Verdigris.

Vermilion–a brilliant, light red. Substitute Cadmium Red Light if you can’t find vermilion. Remember that real vermillion blackens upon exposure to sunlight, and requires special disposal procedures–you can’t dump the waste water down the drain.

~ Source: Medieval Colours & Modern Paints, E. Boucher, 1999

Writing in salt


Image Found: Preschool Lesson Plans.com

The Scribe

The Scribe records information about people and events so it can be preserved. Much of the work involves copying information that is already available rather than being free to express personal opinions or develop an individual style.

Shadow Scribe uses the information for their own benefit, distorting facts to suit to support their own ideas. Shadow scribe may also claim other people’s work as their own.

 This Goddess Archetype may relate to you if you enjoy compiling information as part of your job or even as a hobby, for instance you may be involved tracing your family tree.

Shadow Archetype asks you to look at how you are presenting your material. Are you altering the information to support your view of the world?

The Scribe also reminds you not to get so wrapped up in recording events that you forget to experience the moment.

Goddesses with this Archetype: Seshat

Further Rabbit-Hole Sliding:

Goddess archetypes at Goddess-Guide.com

Determining Your Archetypes – Library, Caroline Myss

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