Sunday, March 14, 2010

Intro to Calligraphy

I'll begin with my links of interest.

IAMPETH - The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting. An incredibly rich site spilling over with text-based and video instruction.

A few instructional sites, probably a good place for this beginner to start:
My first book, on its way: The Art of Calligraphy by David Harris.

This incredible event will occur just up the road from me:
Odyssey 2010 - The 30th International Gathering of Letter Artists

Yesterday, I displayed my tools. Today I'll spend some time with the Speedball Elegant Writer black ink felt-tipped pen. The tip is a 2.0 mm wide (labeled Fine) chisel point. It's not the choice of pros but good for beginner practice. With this pen, there are no worries with ink dipping and it can easily be used anywhere. In fact, it you're calligraphically challenged as am I, why don't you pick up one of these inexpensive pens and follow right along with me?

Next post, my first Gothic characters.


  1. Calligraphy! Of course! Why didn't I think to suggest that!? I think you will enjoy this immensely. Combined with your botanical drawing and future watercolors, you will soon have the skills necessary to explore the world of illuminated manuscripts- yet another art form that intrigues me no end. I have had the good fortune to see the Book of Kells twice- once in Boston at the MFA and once in Dublin, Ireland.
    Here's one more idea- taking into consideration your fondness for pencil yet yearning for color, have you ever tried colored pencil? Not the junkie pencils from our childhood but real artist's quality such as Prismacolor. I absolutely love working in this medium (talk about being able to zero in on detail- wow!) but have had to give it up due to carpal tunnel problems.
    Isn't it exciting at all the directions one can take in the art world?

  2. The idea quite came out as a surprise to me. I'm coming into this as a short-term dabble prior to watercolor, but who knows how far this can go.

    I do have a small set of Prismas but haven't got to them very much. I watched a little demo today where a graphite drawing was overlaid with tracing paper and then CP was applied for a color test.

    I will soon get my watercolors in order and establish a little spot that I can keep set up. I am really looking forward to the next class.

    I really liked your idea for sketch pads and I'm just now dedicating one for studies. For instance, right now I'm exploring the White Pine, building sketches that I can use later for a larger work.

    It truly is so exciting to realize all the possibilities! Oh, how I am having fun! :-) Now, if I could only retire...

  3. Hello John,

    What a wonderful blog -- I have been browsing everything from buttonwood bark to Aesop's crow. I liked very much your photo from the roots of the birch.

    Absolutely delighted you are enjoying calligraphy as your 'something different' before watercolours. (Equally delighted you are finding the lessons useful at Calligraphy Skills!) I hope like me you'll find it oddly satisfying to find out what's beautiful about a word as an object in its own right, apart from its meaning. Writing calligraphy reminds me all the time that we communicate using symbols, with all the sophistication and shortcomings that implies. And it makes the symbols look so good!

    Given your wide artistic interests I think Gretchen is spot on with the idea of your planning some illuminated/illustrated pages which will bring them together. But I tell you what, your photo of the curled fallen buttonbark has got me thinking too. It might make a wonderful local medium for writing/painting on. I am wondering whether to find some birch-bark to have a go with myself.

    Anyway, thank you for introducing me to your blog, which I think is a beautiful expression of where you live and also great inspiration for anyone wanting to pick up the pen or brush and get going. I'll be visiting again.

  4. Thanks so much, Katharine.

    I will soon be into the second set of characters, although I do recognize that practice is needed with all characters. It seems a fine line between simultaneously relaxing and striving for precision.

    Well, now it's two votes for illuminations... perhaps this fall into winter...

  5. Wow!

    It's very interesting to see how that page of ms and ws improves the latest 'icicle' -- its third incarnation is more orderly and confident.

    Really know what you mean about the relaxed-but-concentrated state that comes while forming letters. And the pleasure of them coming out 'right'.

    Looking forward to the rest of 'nuncketest'!

  6. Today I printed out your instruction pages--it is easier for me to work from paper. I also want to spend time on your discussions regarding good character layout. Fascinating stuff!