The Calligrapher's Life

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5 Things to Do When You’re Not Practicing Calligraphy

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Over a three year span, I’ve become very familiar and comfortable with the folding chair that’s tucked away in the corner of the family room. It’s my art station where creativity happens and stress melts away. Well…most stress, anyway.

When I started blogging about calligraphy, the weekly topics surfaced easily (thanks to my classroom experiences). Then, summer arrived leaving me with the assumption that I needed to practice calligraphy every day or at least every week to generate new ideas.

Some days, it’s like magic and ideas would come to me at a furious pace. On other days, I’d struggle with topics, especially if I missed a week of practice.

Anxious and worrisome, I think: What will I write about? Will it be interesting? Then, I let myself off the hook. Professional calligraphers must take breaks from calligraphy, so why shouldn’t I?

I remind myself that I’m not committed to writing only about calligraphy unless I want to. This is my journey into an art form that’s much more than just making pen strokes on a piece of paper.

If you’re devoted to regular calligraphy practice and find yourself in a rut, take off a week or two to discover how these breaks offers productive treats and open new creative doors for your future calligraphy projects. Unwind from your usual lettering routine with the following tips:

Gather photos for scrapbooking

Relive old memories and make a special scrapbook page. Although scrapbooking takes time and planning, there’s no need to tackle a whole album at once. Check your art supplies or visit the craft store for a colorful and interesting background page that inspires your favorite photo or collection. Finish the page with your own handwritten letters, instead of computer-generated fonts.

 Take a card making workshop

Grabbing a colorful piece of card stock and adding rubber stamp designs or appliqués provide punch and a personal touch. Blend whimsical or elegant hand-lettering and turn your card making experiment into an example of friendship and love for a special family member or friend.

Brush up on watercolors

Pick up your paint brush and make a splash with watercolors. Relax at the park or in your own garden for inspiration. Watercolor subjects like flowers, shrubs or birds. Don’t worry about painting perfectly…you’re practicing for a potential project.

Doodle away on paper

Take your pencil to paper and draw whatever comes to mind. Or, sketch a natural and earthy object like a leaf in your yard or a shell from your beach visit. Eventually, your doodle drawings will spark your imagination and you’ll create something beautifully unexpected.

Check out an art book at the library or bookstore.

If it’s difficult to determine where to start, let books inspire your creativity. Browse the art section in the bookstore or library and flip through the pages. Expand your arts and crafts knowledge to pique your interests in other areas like ceramics, drawing, jewelry-making, or photography. Let another artist’s work arouse your imagination.

What do you do when you’re not practicing calligraphy?

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Calligrapher Appreciation

Why would anyone spend money on calligraphy when computers can do it? Recently, a friend asked me this question which caught me off guard until I realized that others probably had the same idea.

Instead of responding with a less than friendly comment, I shared a few lettering stories and invited her to try a few pen strokes.

Although my friend struck a nerve, I couldn’t blame her misunderstanding about calligraphy and how it works. At one time, I might have asked a similar question since I’m known to look out for a discount or two. But, when it comes to calligraphy for special events, I’ve learned it’s not about letters on paper; it’s about appreciation for your guest.

Today, nearly every font or letter style easily prints from advanced computer technology. Printing envelopes and letters has become so commonplace that no one finds it special anymore. Unfortunately, the newer generation fails to realize a well-practiced calligrapher created the letters first before they were added to the computer program.

Living in the 21st century, we’ve become accustomed to receiving fast “everything”.  We love fast food, fast service, fast delivery, or anything associated with fast. Fast equals better, right? In an age, where most societies spend more time on their daily commute, I guess fast should be better, but that’s another topic in itself.

If more people took time to sit down and write, they’d realize addressing one envelope doesn’t take much time if a writer uses a fountain pen. On the other hand, imagine using a dip pen and ink. This practice takes enormous patience.

First, the writer should set up a comfortable area for writing. This allows ample space for an ink bottle, nib with pen holder and envelope or paper. Next, the pen must be applied in ink to “warm up” with a few practice strokes while making sure the nib works fine. Once the writer feels comfortable with the pen nib and ink, they’re ready to address the envelope. Throughout the addressing process, it’s necessary to continue dipping the pen in ink until the addressing is complete.

For one who lacks patience, this procedure sounds daunting, but once it’s complete, the finished piece offers an added touch and shows the recipient you cared enough to spend your time, or money to hand write an addressed envelope.  

So, now that my friend gained hands-on experience with calligraphy, she now has a greater respect for a calligrapher’s fees.

Another Stress Reliever

Feeling stressed? Calligraphy not only creates beautiful art works with letters, it’s a soothing, relaxing exercise for anyone who needs to unwind.  Just take about a half hour a day to practice and you’ll notice an instant difference in how you feel.

After several months of lettering, I’ve noticed how the process resembles a calming experience similar to yoga. If you’re familiar with this exercise, you know how it encourages smooth, slow body movements to form a stationary pose. In comparison to yoga, calligraphy demands the same pace while using the pen; it helps a writer achieve a near-perfect letter design.

 As I’ve heard numerous times…”it’s about quality, not quantity.”

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