On Painting Charters

Perhaps you, too, would like to participate in the giving of scrolls and charters, knowing you’ll have a hand in giving someone joy. If so, begin here!

Who do I ask?

You can start with your branch scribe or herald, or contact the Principality (Tir Righ) or Kingdom (An Tir) herald to let them know you would like to paint charters. They will be delighted.

You’ll make arrangements to get a charter or few to work on, a deadline, and make arrangements to return your completed work.

What do I need?

Definitely, you need to have the ability to stay within the lines. Take some time to practice on scrap before you approach the charter: draw straight-ish and curved lines, and then try to paint up to them without going over. Use good light, a supportive table and chair, and use relaxed motions.

You will need suitable equipment. On occasion, such may be lent or given to you for the charter, but it’s not usual. Your paints should be period or period-like; a high-quality gouache is heartily encouraged for its lightfastness and its ease of handling. A little goes a long way, so this is a good place to splurge. The brushes should be chosen to suit your paint; I prefer sable and natural hair brushes for my gouache, full-bellied and fine-tipped, and mostly on the small side.

You need time. Most of us underestimate how long the project will take. Start early; you might be finished early!

But what colors can I use?

Look at color plates of manuscripts similar in style to what you are about to paint; libraries have books, and even calendars can be a good source for color tips (but check that the examples are actually period, for best results).

Mistress Tegan of Conwy says the English use alizarin for red and ultramarine blue, while the French use a flame red or cadium red (Winsor and Newton) and cobalt blue.

Do not, under any circumstances/influences/pressure, use pencil crayons, wax crayons, felt-tip pens, acrylic paint. I’d have to hunt you down and hurt you (do you think I’m joking?). These materials are not made for the paper or parchment you are working on, nor will they hold their color (or place) reliably. Period materials have lasted long enough (oh, maybe 600-ish years?) to have proven themselves; let’s stick with that.

Isn’t that a lot to ask?

Well, it is and it isn’t. Yes, you volunteer your time to paint charters and donate your materials to do it. Then someone receives a charter you’ve worked on… If you are lucky enough to be in court for it, you have the chance to see someone’s eyes light up when they see the work you’ve done. It’s worth it!