This past Sunday I attended a calligraphy workshop through NSCAD Extended Studies. I had been waiting excitedly for weeks to get a bit of formal training, and I thought of it as a chance for me to re-launch myself back into calligraphy. The workshop was taught by Kevin King who is a Toronto based type designer and calligrapher. We studied a foundational hand that is a variation on a script developed in the early twentieth century by Edward Johnston.
We spent the morning working on many different strokes that essentially are pieces that make up the entire alphabet in this particular script. Although it was very tedious, spending hours drawing different strokes definitely gave us a foundation so that we were able to transition into actual letters after lunch break. We got a handle on how to hold the pen, what kind of pressure to apply, and we also developed our eye to look for symmetry in the strokes that we were studying.
It felt like a treat to get into the actual letters of the alphabet after working so hard on the strokes that the letters are composed of for so long! We went through a wide range of letters, although we didn’t go through the entire alphabet as there are many letters that share very similar structure.
What I really enjoy about the practice is that you can see an improvement as you read down the pages of letters. Each time I wrote a b, I made an observation and then I would adjust accordingly for the next b. Every single time I wrote, I discovered a learning opportunity.
I plan to practice daily for an hour and see where I’m at by Christmas! I feel like once I have a good handle on this basic form of calligraphy, I will be able to move into a more decorative form like Copperplate (which I love). I think it’s so important to have a practice. It could be an art practice, a calligraphy practice, yoga practice, it could be anything as long as it’s done consistently and with intention. Eventually the practice ends up informing your life in ways you couldn’t have ever imagined.
Humans have the amazing capability to learn and transform themselves, so why not pick up something that makes you feel good and learn as much as you can about that one thing? I find learning calligraphy to be really meditative and relaxing! I’ll keep you posted on my progress in the weeks to come! Anyone else out there a practicing calligrapher?