Show Us Your Celtic Spirit

March 10, 2016, 10:00 am  Posted by Barbara Berger

COVER 9781454918950_cvr4 FrontWith St. Patrick’s Day around the corner, it’s the perfect time to unwind and celebrate the holiday by coloring beautiful Celtic knotwork designs from our new Celtic Spirit Coloring Book!

The author and artist behind the book, Cleopatra Motzel (also known as Feivelyn) has some behind-the-scenes tips about coloring knotwork:

“The two best examples for traditional knotwork coloring come from the Lindisfarne Gospels and Book of Kells illuminated manuscripts, both produced in monasteries in the British Isles sometime around the eighth century.


This is a page from the Lindsfarne Gospels illuminated with knotwork designs, located in the British Library in London:

01 LindisfarneFol27rIncipitMatt

Typically, each coherent strand consists of a single color throughout the knotwork design. If there are repeating patterns of knotwork, each section of the pattern was colored in blocks, with the new color beginning from where the pattern started to repeat itself—as you can see here in this enlargement of the Lindisfarne page:

02 Blocks


The traditional choice of colors was limited by the color pigments available in the Middle Ages. Actually, it doesn’t matter exactly which colors you use, but to make it look less chaotic it is best to use a limited color palette, usually not more than six colors for a piece that has a regular symmetry. For triangular symmetry use more colors if needed. The below diagram shows three examples of triangular symmetry on the left, and then on the right, quadrilateral and bilateral symmetry:

03 Symmetry


Choose one dark color for the background between the knots, and four colors for the knots, usually in high contrasting pairs. You can also add one neutral color for details or on the outer frame or border (or just leave the paper color as is).

You can also use some slight variations of those colors for certain details, e.g. to make scales or feathers look more interesting and have depth. One traditional color palette, which was used in the Lindisfarne Gospels (see the sample page above) is black (background filling), red, light green, light blue, and gold (knots); the background color was the natural paper. In the Book of Kells, more saturated colors were used.

But in the end it is up to you to choose the colors that speak to you! In my color work, such as the examples below page, I tend to use more saturated colors but still keep a fairly limited palette, and I use a range of media, including digital color like these:

04 Carpetpage_coloured_by_feivelyn




As well as colored pencil:

08 Colored Pencils Circle


And watercolor:

09 Watercolor celtic_vs_norse_dragon____ii_by_feivelyn-d8uosva


You can display your final Celtic art in your home, or give one to a friend or loved one as a personalized gift to cherish….Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Pick up your copy of the Celtic Spirit Coloring Book today at any of these retailers!

Barnes & Noble




CLEOPATRA MOTZEL, also known as Feivelyn, is an artist and illustrator who specializes in all aspects of knotwork design, from the Celtic knotwork of the British Isles, to that of Germanic and Norse tradition. She lives in Germany. Check her out on the web at feivelyn.deviantart.com.

Barbara Berger

About the Author

Executive Editor, Sterling Publishing. I have been obsessed with drawing, coloring, and pu...

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