Wednesday, March 31, 2010

March Challenge: English Miniatures

Kylee, 2.5" diameter, acrylic

At the beginning of this month, I began reading one of my art history books from school, Five Centuries of British Painting by Andrew Wilton. It's a shame I never had time to read it when I was actually taking the class. :P Anyway, the book starts with Holbein and the Tudors. I decided to focus on miniature portrait painting.

Miniatures derived from illuminated manuscripts, and in England they took off during the early Tudor period. The miniature was a unique art form because it was intimate. The viewer had to pick it up and hold it close to see it. It was either round or oval in shape, sometimes inscribed with text. Miniatures were displayed in cabinets, or worn around the neck or waist as an item of jewelry. This is where lockets come from. They could also be pinned near the heart. They were portable, and popular as gifts for lovers. They were also usually covered, a way to keep it a personal secret. Miniatures were especially used as a part of courtly love. They were given to show favor.

While, traditionally, miniatures were meant to be held close and worn as jewelry, I've decided to take a different approach to this art form. I will still be working small and applying colored backgrounds (like Holbein), and will try to keep to the standard poses. However, I will be displaying them as you see here, matted. This is only the first one I've done so far, my test piece, I guess. I plan on doing a series of these, and eventually will display them in grid formation next to each other. My purpose for this miniature style is not secretive, and so I will not be treating that way. Instead, I am sort of incorporating that pop cultural design element, bright colors in formation.

I did not get as far on this challenge as I'd hoped, but I'm glad I know what direction I'm going in currently.


  1. Alyssa, this is beautiful! The detail and rendering is so crisp! I can't wait to see more of these.

  2. I'm changing my name to that. And when someone says "Michael Books" I'm going to go "No, no no! It's Michael mmmMMMBOOKKSssss!"

  3. Ha ha! That would be fantastic! And I could be your official pronunciation corrector for when your name needs to be announced at assemblies. I'd make sure they got it right every time. I'd be like, "Hey. Do you have any idea whose name you're announcing there? None other than Michael mmmBookkls, of course!"

  4. Alyssa this piece came out beautiful!!!