s you may remember from this earlier post, I’m taking the month of January to start learning the skill of calligraphy. Since I had the vision of addressing our Christmas postcards with fancy lettering, I had to do the crash course in Calligraphy 101 back in December.
Like any session of cramming though, it didn’t build the most solid foundation. I was thrilled with how the cards turned out but knew I should go back to square one.
The first benchmark I’ve set for myself is to learn the entire uppercase alphabet. Of course, there are a million styles that I could learn for each letter – so I’ve been using my trusty calligraphy book that has a number of examples for all the letters. I try out a few that strike me, see how they flow from my hand, and then try to settle on one and try to do it over and over so that it eventually becomes muscle memory.
So far, I’m gravitating towards letters that I can do in one connected swoop. I think that’s why this ‘A’ is my favorite. I told Bobby that the name our firstborn child will probably need to start with the letter A – mostly as a favor to them when they get older and want to learn calligraphy. Imagine the joy when he or she discovers that their name begins with THE BEST UPPERCASE CALLIGRAPHY LETTER EVER.
Once I choose my letter from the examples, I put a little asterisk by it so that I can easily go back and remember if my memory gets rusty. Sometimes I’ll modify a letter and create one that’s a mixture of various examples, in which case I’ll handwrite it in the margins.
My goal is for all of the letters to look like they belong together. So I’m reminding myself that I can learn other fonts and flourishes down the road but that, for now, I want to get decent at just this set that I’m creating.
Currently, I’ve worked on the letters A-F. To be honest, all of those letters aren’t automatic for me yet. I’m trying to remember how I shape an F right now and can’t do it without referring to a picture. I’m in SUCH awe of professional calligraphers who can break out multiple scripts and do them flawlessly.
I’ll usually do a few lines with the letter I’m working on and then go back and attempt the whole alphabet from the top – it reminds me of when I would memorize lines for a play.
So there you have it! My calligraphy progress up to this point. If you’ve always wanted to learn calligraphy, why not start now and learn it with me?!?
If you go to my initial post about this, I’ve listed the supplies that I’ve found to be essential in getting started. Check out the comments, too, because my brother (who has been lettering far longer than I) had some good advice to add.
The 12 Months of Making continues!
I always wondered about the different fonts and how calligraphers remember which letters go together… but you are right, Grace, as long as the letters look comfortable together, then they can become their own collection of letters. What fun!!
The more I think about this, the more I think I need to contact a professional calligrapher and ask them that trick of the trade! I’d be so intrigued to see if they have various alphabets that they pull out to reference when writing in a certain script…it’s SUPER impressive how many different fonts some of them are handy at!
Well, I think that calligraphers remember the alphabets because they think about them all the time. They remember the histories and the stories behind different scripts and styles – just like a good painter might be able to tell you all about artists were impressionists, and how you can tell their subtleties apart. We remember what we love!
Ahhh, Stephen, I was wanting a quick fix! Haha, I’m sure you’re right – many remember because they are eating, living, breathing calligraphy since it’s what they love. I guess I’ll just have to stick to the cheat sheets for now!
You’re right Stephen. And that’s why I remember you guys! :)
Aw Mom, that’s sweet. We’re so lucky to have you always thinking about us!
I totally agree with Stephen, also each style has its variations, which can include lots of variations. For example: the gothic style, of the latin script has different variations including: rotunda, bastarda, fraktur, shwabacher… and each calligrapher or master calligrapher has it’s own particular style on each variation.
They actually do exactly what you do: develop their own style according to what flows best or feels better.
In my opinion, it depends of the calligrapher, some calligraphers actually know tons of different styles and are “fluent” in them (I know them as “master calligraphers”), others know the generals and improvise from there; but I guess it’s like dancers… or musicians, they can know as many different styles as they heart allows them, and keep practicing and practicing until they learn them by heart.
But don’t take my word on it, I happen to know a group of calligraphers, and have just popped the question to their Facebook group… I will write you back as soon as I receive their wise and enlightening answers.
Also, it would be my pleasure to re-learn calligraphy with you, (I learned the basics 10 years or so ago). I started last week with the very basics: lines, more lines, moore lines and circles, so I will soon be able to construct letters.
Hope you have a nice weekend.
Iliana, this is so fascinating to hear your take on things as well. Thank you! That’s a great analogy to compare calligraphers to dancers or musicians – that makes total sense. Yes, please let me know what the calligraphers on the Facebook group say, I’d be super interested to hear their thoughts as well! Thanks for doing that!
I’m thrilled to hear that you’re going to re-learn calligraphy with you – keep me updated on your progress, it’s encouraging to know that you’re practicing from afar!
All your calligraphy is looking so beautiful, it’s completely tantalizing! I did do some brush calligraphy after I first saw this post, but I haven’t really studied any calligraphy technique. But you’re certainly inspiring me to look more into how to properly form letters. (I also love the connection and flow of A’s as well as H’s. I can get a little over-obsessed with them in letter-writing or journaling, where I try to come up with sentences that begin with those letters.)
Haha I love your comment about trying to come up with sentences that start with A or H – I’ve run into the same thoughts when it comes to my drop caps that start my blog posts. :) I appreciate your enthusiasm! It’s so nice to hear, especially since there are times I look at my practice sheets and think, “I’m such a beginner!” Which is true…but I’m glad that these beginnings are inspiring you and I can’t wait to see your work at some point when you get the chance to dig in!