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Once you've decided what format your Manuscript Page will takem, you can begin to think about the images you'll use to develop and fill it.




So what about the images? Maybe you only want to have decorations on the page, like the famous Carpet Pages of pure decoration in the Book of Kells. Or maybe just a few small words within a large amount of decoration. The beauty of Celtic art is although it can be very complex, it is usually full of symmetrical images, so often you are just repeating a design over and over on the page. Also, you can feel free to use all the different styles you like (spirals, crosses, animals, people, knots...) or just a few if you want. Celtic art is very flexible. So, here we're going to make our very own Carpet Page, with a big fancy Celtic Cross on it, just like you'd see in the Book of Kells, the Lindisfarne Gospels, or the Book of Durrow. Start like you did for the text based manuscript, measuring and marking off your unit areas. Here I have a ragged sheet of "paper", that I've marked off my design area on.


For more in depth instructions on the techniques used on our Cross, you may want to refer to their relevant Tutorials, as I won't be getting into it here. First I've marked off a cross shape in my area, double outlining it as is very common in Celtic art, to give it a bit of a border. The main trick that you'll be learning here is how the Celtic art follows a busy/plain/busy... pattern. Often after an area of intense decoration, there will follow a more open or plainer space, and then there will be a very busy space, and so on. It is this pattern that gives Celtic art a very solid design base, making it very harmonious to the eye, so it sits nicely on the page. If it was all too busy, then it can take on a distracting quality, where your eye finds it difficult to follow the pattern, and it has a very messy look, for all that it may be intricate. Good balance is just as important as getting the detail into your painting, and you will actually have a nicer image if it is laid out well rather than just all crammed in there.


Now I'm adding a large and simple knot in the Cross shape, where there are three little Triny knots in each cross quadrant, and then they join up to eachother at the armpits of the cross. Notice that the design is quite simple. It does not matter which parts you make simple or busy to start from, it is only important that they alternate.


Because the edges of my cross have the simple knot, I'm going to add something more complex at the heart of the cross. In this case, I've made a nice gold and red spiral, but I could have made it a small animal, more complex knotwork, or whatever I wanted. It only as to be more visually intricate.


Again, because the knot inside the cross arms is simple, that means that immediately outside the cross, I need to make a design that is busy. Here I have made some delicate little Maze Patterns.


I have just a small amount of space left at the very corners of my marked off area, and since I have just made a busy pattern, I want to fill these with a plain pattern. I have made some fairly simple knots again, to match those within the cross in this case, but again you can use whatever you like to make your design, just so long as it looks busy, plain, busy, plain...So, if we examine our cross from the center out, we have the busy spiral, the plain knotwork, the busy maze patterns, and then the plain knotwork again. We're done!


If you're enjoying these tutorials, don't forget that you can get a collected workbook edition, in both an instant PDF downloable eBook edition, as well as a coil bound print edition! These working copies have much more information than these online versions do, more explanations, examples, exercises to work through... become a Celtic art master!


All tutorials copyright Cari Buziak, 1995-current