Duchy for Matthew and a turning point

The duchy for Sir Matthew was a big deal for me. This marked a change, an advance in my skill level and it also marked the first time anyone, especially a C&I laurel said anything constructive and critical about my work. Up until this point I was on my own, working along without help or hindrance. 

For this scroll I picked a challenge, a page from the Book of the Hunt by Gaston Phébus (The illuminator remains unknown). This was a level up for me and I wanted it to be as perfect as I could get it.  I don't copy stuff very often but I tried really hard this time to be accurate.There are lots of mistakes or better to say areas where I simply lacked the skill to get it right but I think, when I look back, that this piece was a turning point.

I showed it, against me better judgment, at an AS competition as display only. I loath A&S competitions with a passion that competes with the Emperor's Darkside powers but several people I liked and trusted insisted and I complied. After the display Mistress Caitlin asked if I wanted some advice / pointers and I said sure. I was a bit leery since Mistress C has a bit of a rep for being a bitey Laurel but her critique was straight forward, honest and incredibly helpful. Maybe art school toughened me up for critiques because it was incredibly helpful to see where I was going wrong. I don't ask for advice often, mostly because I never think to and also sometimes it's hard to know what to ask for. I've also found that more often than not unsolicited advice is rarely given in Drachenwald, something I think is good personally but I was glad she took time to talk to me.

The things she pointed out to me were actually the things that can make or break a piece, finishing touches that add to the overall feel and look of the scroll but you don't necessarily miss when they are not there yet at the same time their absence make the scroll incomplete. It was an a-hah moment. I walked away after that with a new sense of what being a scribe could be.

It's hard when people say "Tell me what you think of this?" because most of the time they want to hear that you like their work, that it's wonderful. A good critique should be about the good things and the areas where improvement is needed, pointing out errors but also where things were done right. It's about balance and being honest without being a bitch. Giving a critique should not be about power. The person asking has placed themselves in a vulnerable position. I find it best not to abuse this. As an artist and a mentor it doesn't really serve my purpose to tear strips of anyone. It's not about telling a budding artist about all the flaws, people don't want to hear that and it's not helpful. So I never give advice unsolicited and I always ask if the person asking me really wants my advice because I have been burned before so best to ask first.

So this scroll was that turning point for me as a scribe. I was pleased with how it turned out.

Watercolour and gouache on fabriano paper, with gold leaf and oak-gall ink.

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