Thursday, November 13, 2014

Lettering Made Easy

Have you tried something repeatedly, ended up not satisfied with your efforts, then suddenly, it all comes together?

These are some of the tools I've used in my quest to become a calligrapher.

That sequence of try and try again reminds me of my life-long attempts at learning calligraphy. Just because I love letterforms, I think I should be able to whip out a reasonable piece of lettering without much practice. But calligraphy and lettering take practice -- just like learning times tables and just as exacting.

These are some early attempts

I take classes and set goals to practice, practice, practice, but other interests catch my attention and the practices disappear. I've had wonderful teachers, who are professional calligraphers and who like to share their techniques. I've tried *Tiny Writing with Carol Pallesen, Pointed Pen and Spencerian Handwriting with Bill Kemp, Handwriting as Text Type from Georgianna Greenwood, and Hand Lettering from Billy Ola Hutchison. I've attended the annual Letters of Joy in Washington and played with lettering with brushes on my own. But I then I put the practice aside because I am not satisfied with the results.

From the Tiny Writing class
More practice with Georgianna Greenwood

In the last four weeks, I've tried calligraphy again. Each Wednesday I've been going to Castle in the Air, a magical store on Fourth Street in Berkeley, which offers calligraphy classes. I've been taking Chancery Cursive from Paul Veres with five other people. With his good suggestions, I finally feel a sense of accomplishment. Calligraphy is working for me!
The answer for me: a turn of the page. 

As a left-hander, I have tried different ways of holding the pen, I've tried writing upside down, I've tried using everything from a sponge to a Cola pen (made from a piece of a Coke can) to twigs, to giving up, nothing worked well until Paul suggested that I turn the paper so that the lines run vertically instead of horizontally. Voila! It Works!

Though I am not at a point where you would ask me to do your wedding invitations, I do feel a newfound confidence and joy in lettering. Now I just need to watch spelling!

So much of what I learn in art applies to my life in other ways too. Have you worked and worked on something, only to be frustrated? Then, in just the right moment, all that you've learned comes together? I hope so for you too!

* Find these calligraphers/teachers here:  Carol Pallesen,
Paul Veres and Bill Kemp teach classes at Castle in the Air, Berkeley, CA  
Georgianna Greenwood,
Billy Ola Hutchison,
Letters of Joy workshops in Edmonds, WA:

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