Illuminating and Connections to Kells and My Name is Red

Painting is not my strong suite; I’ve made some large abstracts in the past, but when it comes to intricate small scale drawing, it can be a mess. In class today I saw first hand the intricate detail and skill level, as well as the time and patience required to create beautiful and perfected drawings for manuscript. I began by making a historiated letter “R” and then trying to add a dragon next to it, which didn’t work out like I had hoped. However, I was intrigued by the juxtaposition of ideas in both the Book of Kells and My Name is Red. On one hand, My Name is Red can be interpreted as a Western text – although the illuminators at the time had to balance a fine line of drawing what the knew or saw, and avoiding creating idolatry – which would be sinful. Compared to the Chi Rho page in the Book of Kells, their idea of how their savior should be represented and revered is quite different: The Chi Rho page, as exemplified in the film we watched about Kells, is a wonderfully crafted and designed page, with the goal to awe and inspire the reader. I have been thinking about the comparisons between My Name is Red and Kells for a while now, so perhaps that may be the basis for my first essay. I was also very intrigued by the mixing of paint today, and it gave me a deep respect for the patience it took to set up painting – for I can imagine the mixing and creation of the paints would be quite an arduous process. It was heartening to see that the ancient art of creating paint for manuscripts is not lost even in the world of technology.

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