Tuesday, October 27, 2009


Rabbits, both wild and domestic, positively litter medieval illuminations. They seem to have grabbed the imagination of the artists to a far greater extent than any other animal. Rabbits could be shown almost lifelike, as in this Durer example. Rabbits - "mad as a March hare" -- were often shown gambolling about the place.
Sometimes they were just silly and took on humanoid personalities.
Then again, rabbits could be brave, stalwart, and heroic.
And finally, rabbits could be just out-and-out drolleries.
I'll talk about drolleries in my next blog.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


When I was twelve years old, I got my own bedroom and promptly put posters of German castles on the walls. Maybe it was the early childhood influence of reading all the red, green, and blue books of fairy tales, but many years later Arelate Studio was born. It is amazing to spend each day knee-deep in medieval and Renaissance sources which I use as inspiration for my cross stitch designs and formal research.

And what is "Arelate", you may well ask? One day in 1999, my editor called and said I needed to immediately find a name for "me" to use on my first book, "Ecclesiastical Pomp". I was studying the Merovingians (one of the Germanic tribes that invaded Europe) at the time, and had just read that "Arelate" was the old Roman name for the city of Arles in France. Et voila! It is pronounced "air-eh-la-teh" although most of the time it comes out sounding like coffee with milk.

"Wyvern" is a curious word, isn't it? It comes from the Middle English word, wyvere, viper, and is a two-legged dragon having wings and a barbed and knotted tail. A most handsome wyvern ornaments the title block above.

This small fellow above is a dragon. Most of the "dragons" you see in medieval and Renaissance art are actually wyverns! A dragon is officially a giant, four-legged reptile with wings, the claws of a lion, the tail of a serpent, and a scaly skin. This fierce little beastie undoubtedly has the heart of a dragon if not the size! Welcome to this wondrous, wild, and weird world of the medieval and Renaissance imagination!