Risa Gettler - Visigothic Versals

This class is part of Legacies III.

John Neal Books is not hosting this class.

Please add item LEG2021 to your shopping cart for supply orders for Legacies III classes.

Visigothic Versals

Risa Gettler

2-Day Workshop

Beginner – Advanced
Lettering • Design • Painting


Perched on the tiptoes of the middle ages stand the tall and slender Visigothic Versals, the exclusive and independent lettering tradition unique to early medieval Spain. Visigothic Versals adorn the Christian manuscripts written in the golden age of Spain when the Ottoman empire of the east met the Holy Roman Empire of the west. We begin by looking at slides of original manuscripts to discover and discuss the letters, ligatures and layouts. The letterforms are gently introduced via the friendly pencil on grid paper. (Hooray, no guidelines) Next are Ligatures that are fun and aid us in controlling line lengths. The pièce de résistance is a set of uniquely decorative Visigothic capitals. This interesting lettering course invites and encourages your creativity, offers an opportunity to learn a national hand, and will heighten your sense of visual balance and symmetry and best of all is a lot of fun. Your project will be original, personal and expressive. Class includes slide references from Spain and Morocco, examples of student work, books and website references.


  • Eraser (Moo eraser is a favorite) (E29)
  • Gouache, black + mixing brush and 6-cup plastic mixing palette (S679) (BR43)
  • Highlighter, yellow
  • Light Box (S1013) (S939)
  • Micron pens – red #8 is preferred (M134)


Bring your favorites-I like the flexibility of Mitchell nibs for Versals.

  • Brause – #1 and #1-1/2 or equivalent (N02)
  • Mitchell – in the #4 range. (N04) Plus, optional sizes for variations


  • Grid paper – 4sq to 1″
  • Tracing paper (P112)
  • Lettering paper – a minimum of two sheets of your choice of writing paper (such as Arches Text Wove) Minimum size is 9″ x 12″, Keep in mind the size will vary according to length of the quotation. (PA03)


  • 2-B mechanical (PL21)
  • Hard lead (for precise for ruling) (PL38)
  • Quotation or poem of your choice consisting of a minimum of 15 words that you love. Plus, an alternative quote.
  • Scissors
  • T-Square or Ruler (or what you use when making guidelines) (S623) (S270)
  • Tape, any brand as long as it’s not too sticky (I use artists white tape) (S931)
  • Water – with distributor such eye dropper or pipette or distribution bottle (S141) (S1017)
  • paper towels
  • Watercolors (I153) (WNWC1)
  • Small round pointed paint brushes, selection ranging from #000 to #2
    (See Options below for alternatives) (BR27)
  • X-acto and cutting board (S417) (S504)


Color pencils (PL28), gouache(WNG1), metallic watercolors(S1000), magnifying glasses, writing board