Kells Key Pattern

This is based on a key pattern from the Book of Kells, which was made by Celtic Monks in about Ad 800 and is considered the high point of Celtic art. The Celtic church didn’t really go in for buildings, so you could consider Kells a Celtic version of the Sistene chapel, with the advantage that you don’t have to strain your neck looking at it.

People were making key patterns long before these monks used them for manuscripts of course, in fact when the artist was painting Kells in the ninth century, there was probably some young monk moaning “Oh, not key patterns, that is like, so third millenium BC…”

(Acrylic on canvas. Probably the last one for a while as they are harder than they look and this is the only one I’ve managed to make properly so far. I’ll have to build up my courage to try another…)


4 thoughts on “Kells Key Pattern

  1. This is really fine, I like the texture of the canvas and the way that you subtly bring in different colours. Nice one! Plus the lines aren’t obsessively straight or perfect, so although it’s a geometric design, it has an extra feel of liveliness about it.

    • Thanks Iain. I figured I wouldn’t be able to make the lines too tight, which helped me to relax a bit on that. As to the colours, I was a bit like a kid in a sandbox, playing about until I decided I liked it.

      The geometry is a nightmare though. I’ll have to get a bit of practice on that.

  2. I agree with your comment about the geometry of key patterns. It IS a nightmare. I think, at a certain point, you simply have to let go of the math and make it look right.
    Nice job on this one, and lovely colors.

    • Hi Kecain, and thanks fot the comment. I’m glad I’m not the only one to get into difficulties with Key patterns, and yes, apparently maths and geometry will only get you so far, then you have to work it out.

      Apparently the Aztecs made the same sort of thing in stone: the mind boggles…

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