Captivating Curves: Creating Acanthus Foliate Designs
with Heather Victoria Held
For centuries, the acanthus leaf has been used decoratively in illuminated manuscript borders, sculptures, architecture, textiles and wallpaper. Calligraphers and illuminators enjoy its charm and versatility as it can meander around your page as a striking gilded border, adorn capital letters, serve as graceful line endings or add interest on any corner of your paper. There are simple strategies to learn as you cultivate their curves and they offer endless possibilities. We begin the class in our study of the ornamental acanthus with pencil sketches and then move to designing, gilding and painting a foliate spray that will be suitable for framing. Unleash the magic of this graceful plant as we combine it with floral elements. This class will enhance yourskills as a calligrapher and illuminator as you learn how to cultivate these charming foliate curves.
Instructor’s Note: My supply list is constantly evolving as I experiment with new techniques. There are a variety of ways to get similar results with your designs while using different materials than what I use. Please don’t feel you have to use the exact supplies that I am using. The exception is the ink for outlining as very few products will do this job well. I recommend using either McCaffery Brown Ink or McCaffery Black Ink or Ziller Buffalo Brown Ink. Walnut Ink will not work. I have listed a few of my favourite watercolours in the supply list but you may use any colours at all. Please contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions about supplies.
Gridded Paper or Gridded Journal for Sketches
140LB Hot Press Watercolour Paper cut down to 5”x7” size. (3-4 pieces will be plenty for your design with extra sheets available to test techniques)
Mechanical Pencil, Kneaded Eraser, White Vinyl Eraser, Ruler
Tracing Paper, 4H pencil, Scotch Repositionable Tape
Note: if you have a portable lightweight lightpad, you can bring that instead of the Tracing
Paper and 4H pencil, but please don’t feel you need to purchase a lightpad.
Straight Penholder and Medium Flexible Nib such as a Zebra G
Either McCaffery Brown, McCaffery Black or Ziller Buffalo Brown Ink. The brown inks give a
more subdued effect than the black ink. If you substitute the ink, be sure it is waterproof and test it on a piece of your watercolour paper to make sure the ink does not feather or bleed.
23 K Gold Leaf (one sheet will do several projects), Gilding Medium such as Miniatum Ink,
Scissors for cutting gold leaf, inexpensive synthetic pointed brush for gilding medium (I use a size 0 or 00 for this step)
Note: These designs are spectacular when gilded, but if you prefer, you can use either Finetec Gold watercolour or Gold Gouache instead of Gold Leaf for your designs.
Any Artist quality brand of watercolour will work, either tubes or pan colours. I use mainly
Daniel Smith and Holbein colours.
A few of my favourite colours are suggested below:
Quinachridone Pink or Permanent Rose,
A small china plate is helpful for mixing colours if your palette does not have a mixing area. I always have either Titanium White or Bleedproof White with me for special techniques. John Neal Booksellers sells a Dot Card of my favourite colours which can be purchased inexpensively and will be enough pigment for several designs. Daniel Smith also sells a full range of their colours in the dot card format. Both of those options are good if you are new to watercolour and just want to try it out.
Watercolour pencils are helpful to have with you in a few floral colours like greens and pinks but not necessary. If you want to use watercolour pencils along with the watercolours the only brand that will not work well is Inktense.
Small Pointed Round Watercolour Brushes size 0 and 1. I use Kolinsky Sable Brushes, but a good quality synthetic pointed round brush will also work.
Water dish and paper towel or washable white bar towel
Optional Embellishments: Finetec Metallic Watercolours, Sakura Gelly Roll Pen. I will bring Swarovski Crystals and Gem Tac Glue with me to share if you want to add a little more sparkle to these charming designs.
Click here for printable brochure Captivating Curves
Click here for registration form HH registration