Monday, October 3, 2011



For hundreds of years before books were common household items, scholars and monks spent years of their lives carefully copying and recopying important texts by hand…


…bent over their desks hour by hour, with only sun or candlelight to see by, perfecting their skills with each and every gilded stroke of their brush…


…they not only copied the words, they turned the words into masterpieces.




A few wonderful hours spent in the Getty Museum in Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago…



…their special exhibit:  Illumination.  I was thrilled!  I’ve loved this art form all my life—what a chance to see some of the originals up close…and what a chance to share that love with my two younger daughters…

DSC05776_edited-1 {Although dim, I love this photo…through a display case, I see both my daughter and my mother…each studying a different display…}

Dimly lit rooms devoted to ancient books…manuscript pages…the tools of the trade…beautiful displays showing how it was all done so very long ago…illuminating…


My daughters spent most of our time there carefully reading the information, gazing into each and every page to see the incredible detail…




When we returned home, an art assignment was given…Illumination, of course!

hpqscan0001_edited-1 {Annie chose to imitate old, illuminated letters she saw…choosing to leave them uncolored…focusing on the design…}

Here are the pieces my talented daughters drew—free hand, mind you—no tracing here!  I’m quite proud of my students…

hpqscan0003_edited-1 {Sarah—my redhead-- chose to create her own design—inspired by letters of the past…she’s always identified with “The Little Mermaid”!}

Having that time to spend in the museum was a gift…a wonderful “school” day—part of our new homeschooling adventure—a day very well spent, I’d say…

hpqscan0002_edited-1 {another of Annie’s letters}

…when beautiful pages by unknown, long-forgotten hands can be seen with your own eyes outside of the pages of a history book…that is illumination, indeed…



See you soon with something new…



  1. These are so beautiful...what a special visit, Julie. I also believe that they are available online to view too. I read about it in a magazine a year or so ago. (It was a craft magazine and the woman used the letters for her art.)

  2. Your girls are very talented artists! Lovely art assignment.

  3. Dear Julie, yes it must have been fantastic viewing those old,old masterpieces for real.What a patience they have had.
    And for your two daughters, they are so very clever ,both- what an exiting day, that ended up at home, very cosy-creating yourself.

  4. They were amazingly patient and creative weren't they? Just amazing!

  5. What a wonderful display this must have been and looks like all your girls learned something new. Love that you had them do an assignment. They all did such a beautiful piece of art. Good job MOM!!!
    Hugs Lynn

  6. Aloha Julie,
    How lucky for you and your girls that you visited the Getty Museum.
    It is simply amazing the hours and days these artisans put into their lettering, so perfect, so beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful photos.
    Hugs to you.

  7. This looks like you and the girls had a wonderful time! Very interesting, that you for sharing. Your girls are very creative and I'm sure it is an adventure that they will treasure.

    Have a great week
    Laura and michele

  8. What a special place to visit...we were there a few years ago. So interesting ...thanks for sharing. xoxox

  9. Lucky you to go visit this museum. Wow all that wonderful hand work can still be seen. I love that last gold picture too.

  10. Your daughter crasp the essence of it and produce it in her alphabet letters- she has truly learned to "see"

  11. What a fascinating exhibition! How wonderful. At Hever Castle you can see some of these things. I especially love to look at Anne Bolyn's prayer book. I think your girls are very talented. Not hard to see that the apples have not fallen very far from the tree there!! Lots of love from sunny and autumnal UK! xxoo

  12. Everything is so beautiful. You have to admire the dedication of the scribes and the creativeness of your daughter.

    I'm reminded of a joke about a young scribe suggesting to the chief monk that because the manuscrips were copied from copies rather than the original manuscrips, if a mistake was made in the first copy, it would be carried on through time. The chief monk agrees the scribe has a point and goes down into the dungeons where the original manuscrips are kept to check things out. Hours later they find the chief monk still in the dungeons beating his head against the stone wall and wailing 'the word is CELEBRATE'. xx

  13. What a wonderful trip! Your daughter is very talented Julie! Beautiful!


  14. Stunning work your girls did. Both you and they should be more than proud. Thank you so much for sharing the beauty with us.


  15. these are all so gorgeous Julie and full of inspiration!

  16. wow, that is beautiful . I too have always found that type of "script" interesting. Amazing the time they spent on all that detail (with bad lighting as you said)
    your daughters did an excellent job!!
    Gosh, have we ever gotten lazy eh. Aside from people like you who scrapbook, make your cards etc....people don't hardly so much as even WRITE by hand a note at all.
    It's all email
    computer generated.
    nothing is more personal and cherished as something written by hand, from the people you care about.

  17. Absolutely beautiful,
    Julie. It does give you
    goosebumps to think of
    those hands from so long
    ago creating these works.
    I didn't realize that you
    home schooled; bravo for
    you! A great day in the
    "classroom," I'd say : )
    xx Suzanne

  18. I see you've passed your talent on to your daughters!! WOW!! and Priceless!!!...

  19. Hi just sort of stumbled onto your site and wanted to say glad I did great blog!!! super!