There is something elegant and deeply artistic about calligraphy. It’s a demanding art–patience, practice, an eye for detail–are all part of learning to be a good calligrapher.
I’ve always wanted to be a calligrapher, but it’s been daunting to me. In my first calligraphy class the instructor told me that I was already too old–that there were not enough years left in my life to practice enough to become really good. I felt crushed. And old.
The second time around, Laurie Doctor, the calligrapher and writer, encouraged me to do anything that engages my interest.Because enjoying art is the beginning of learning art.
Yesterday, Anne Law taught a class at the Arizona Calligraphy Society. It always surprises me how warmly they welcome me, knowing I am a writer and not a calligrapher. Anne had a folder for everyone, and the folder contained everything you needed for the class–practice
and R.B. Rives paper, two special pencils, frosted mylar, and a nametag done in the technique we were going to learn.
The technique, “pressure and release Roman Capitals” is one that Anne learned from Sherri Kiesel. Sherri’s example is shown on the left, above.
The pressure and release technique adds depth. The contemporary look is sleek and nuanced.
The technique Anne Law taught is far more than lettering. First, we used suminagashi marbeling on the heavy R. B. Rives paper. Sumi-e ink is used in this simple technique.
The writing could be done on the mylar, with bright pastel stencils applied on the Rives paper. When the mylar is attached to the paper, you get a layered look of nuanced color and delicate, yet powerful writing.
Some of us decided to work first on the paper. Anne demonstrated the formal technique, then several changes that made the writing dance across the page.
The class participants were generous in letting me take a look at their samples. They were incredible, delicate and easy. My own effort showed all the beginners effort–big letters, slightly wobbly, not quite lined up. I can’t make the letters small because the technique–pressure, release, pressure–requires space for me to master. My letters had a slightly
Hebrew look to them, because the pressure also varied the thickness.
Why was I pleased with my result? Because I did not expect perfection. I expected the suminagashi to be provide a beautiful background–which it did, and the stencil work to add a different element, whic is also did. My work that showed effort, and an improvement over my first effort. And that happened. Practice will make it better. That made the class successful for me.
—Quinn McDonald is a life- and certified creativity coach. She teaches business communication and personal journaling.
Visit my other website: Raw Art Journaling.