Christine Cox

On Drawing Celtic Knots

I’m in love with all the doodles, Zentangles, zendoodles and other drawing techniques that are so hot right now. As I’ve been reading about the Lindisfarne Gospels and the Book of Kells lately my doodle love has turned into a full-blown case of Celtic Knot Love. The beautiful knots incorporated in some of the illuminations in the manuscripts are amazing to look at, but to the uninitiated the technique of their drawing seems like magic. How did they get those exactly placed, exactly drawn, exactly exact knots?

As a member of the Club of the Uninitiated, I bought a book that was supposed to show how the knots were drawn, but I literally couldn’t get through the first exercise. I then turned to Draw Your Own Celtic Designs by David James. Waaaaaay better choice. The author uses a series of grids for the simpler knot designs and I found them more intuitive than using the dots relied on in the previous book. Aha! As with chainmaille, once you see how it’s done, the shroud of mystery is removed. The secret has been unveiled.

If you are interested in drawing precise, engineered borders or if you’re studying illuminations, I would recommend this book. It’s interesting to think about those monks working with rules and compasses (stylus and string?) to decorate their extraordinary manuscripts.

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