Medieval Painting and Manuscript Illumination


This course has now sold out. Please register for the Waitlist via Eventbrite.

You may be interested in attending another of our Summer School 2024 courses, please check out the other courses on offer.

‘Sarah Davis was a joy to listen to. She was attentive. The pace was perfect and she is very talented and generous with her knowledge.’ Karin

Level: Beginners/some experience

Tutor: Sarah Davis

Dates: 15 – 19 July 2024

Time: 10:00 – 17:00

Cost: £560


Using a combination of modern and traditional materials, we will peel back layers of history to unveil the tools, techniques and methods of Medieval painting and illumination. You will create your own painted and gilded pieces and learn the skills to continue practising the craft at home.


The luminous artworks that are often seen adorning the most precious medieval manuscripts, are known as ‘miniatures’. These highly detailed images would function as visual aids and decorative embellishments to the sacred text beside them and were made with some of the most precious materials of the time such as gold leaf, lapis lazuli and vellum.

Over this five-day intensive course, you will create your own medieval-style illuminated miniatures. Working closely from historic designs, and where we can, using some of the traditional tools and techniques favoured by medieval artisans, we will emulate as closely as possible the materials that would have been used by our medieval ancestors such as real gold leaf, vellum and garlic juice!

We will also make illumination Gesso together to create mirror-shine raised gilded images. At the end of the course you will have made at least three stunning pieces, including a gilded letter, a gilded and painted zodiac sign and a fully illuminated miniature. You will also have the skills to continue with this astonishingly beautiful and rewarding craft at home.

You can choose to copy designs from our collection of historic images or you may bring in your own designs or images to work from.

Traditional materials for medieval illumination included animal-derived products, but vegan alternatives are available. We will start by using paper and modern gilding glues which are fully vegan, you will have an equally enlightening experience if you choose to stay vegan for the whole course. Please indicate before the start of the course if you require vegan alternatives.

What’s included: all teaching, most of the tools and materials required, including gold leaf!

What’s not included: some widely available tools such as miniature painting brushes, pencil and scalpel

10% discount available for City & Guilds of London Art School students, alumni and staff. Contact to receive the discount code.

‘A wonderful and fulfilling introduction to Medieval illumination- we learnt both the modern and historic fundamentals needed to develop our own work after the course. Sarah was a very inspiring tutor who pushes us throughout the week to make the most of everything we learnt. I loved it!’ 2023 attendee

‘Days were just the right length, lots of freedom in what we could paint, did enough safe historically accurate techniques. Overall amazing fun.’ Rachel

‘Tutor provided lots of material to work from, good clear instruction, plenty of demonstrations and tutor always on hand to give advice and encouragement when needed.’ Gail


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