I’ve been enjoying listening to Arabella while I practice calligraphy; an old diversion which has recently taken on new force and form following my discovery of all the modern calligraphy resources that are now available online. I love the movement of this novel style, the way letters bounce and shrink in lively (if done right) harmony. Digital fonts have made even steven scripts somewhat superfluous and commonplace, I think, though no less impressive*. I have also been seduced by the knowledge that I am not limited to using India ink which has the indelible habit of getting everywhere. The smell of my little pots of gouache transport me back to primary school art classes. Not an unhappy association, and rather appropriate to my current novitiate.
* I have recently discovered some darling computer fonts in the modern calligraphic style: Octavia, Signature, Hollyhock & Dago are my favourites!
Here are some wonderful resources I’ve discovered for learning calligraphy:
- The Postman’s Knock has some great calligraphy worksheets which are as fun as they are educative. I also recommend her posts, Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy & Cheat Calligraphy.
- The Flourish Forum has some fantastic tutorials available to registered members.
- I’ve found two online courses on calligraphy: The Art of Modern Calligraphy taught by Molly Jacques and I Still Love Calligraphy taught by Melissa Esplin.
- Watch Schin on Youtube to see how it’s really supposed to look.
- Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe looks to be the definitive book on the subject, though I’ve yet to get my hands on it.
- In the spirit of knowing the rules before you break them, Dr. Vitolo’s Script in the Copperplate Style is available as an interactive iBook.
- Although they’re both focused on italic scripts, Calligraphy Handbook and Calligraphy Practice are two iOS apps that are useful for learning letter-forms.
- I’ve found amazing calligraphy inspiration on Instagram, more so than on Pinterest!
- The Essential Guide to Calligraphy for Beginners from 9Mousai.
While I am clearly a padawan of penmanship, I do have a few recommendations:
- If you find that your ink looks spotty on the nib, take some time to try one of the methods outlined in Dr. Vitolo’s book for preparing a new nib. I had best success with toothpaste.
- I know one’s instinct is to instantly order all the wonderful paraphernalia – nibs, inks, papers, pen holders, etc. – but I would urge against it. My advice is to break down the learning into sections. First, get a sense of how letters are formed, then practice with a pencil, and then a brush-tip marker. The worksheets from The Postman’s Knock break the process down very nicely.
- Find calligraphic fonts that you like and practice their alphabets. You can begin by printing the letters out and tracing them.
- Keep a reference of letter shapes you like.
P.S. Arabella is very enjoyable and makes me long to have a dog.
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