The Calligrapher's Life

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Flourishing with Ease?

Learning flourishes is a challenge I’ve been ready for since I started calligraphy. Beautiful, flowing lines from the beginning to the end of a letter automatically appear romantic, so flourishing has to be the best part about learning Copperplate.

As a warm up before practice, Ms. Close suggested we use pencil to begin drawing with thin and thick ovals. With each swirl, my normal grip from daily handwriting began to loosen. Within minutes, I experienced an unusual level of comfort with the pen.

Then, Ms. Close casually suggested we move right into creating “figure eights” to allow more freedom in our feel for flourishing. Normally, I would consider constant pen swirling as complete monotony, but this practice offered relaxation and ease as I released control and allowed free-flowing movement in my arm.

To use the pen with such unrestricted expression calmed me into a subtle mood, yet it still managed to confuse me. After the class break, Ms. Close approached me to check on the status of my lettering.

Once I aired my questions regarding proper starting and ending points for each flourished letter, she displayed a few examples at my desk.  Before leaving for the next student, she encouraged me to trace with the pencil first to get a feel for the movement in each letter while assuring me this technique would improve my design.

I tried it her way a few times, and some letters actually looked like the work of a seasoned calligrapher. But, I must admit, I still need to practice.

Flourishing letters are so beautiful when completed properly, but for a novice, it’s a guaranteed hit and miss experience until they improve on their strengths and master their limitations.


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