Author Topic: Frustrated with beginner flourishing - looking for help  (Read 147 times)

Offline evad

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Frustrated with beginner flourishing - looking for help
« on: October 08, 2018, 01:20:37 PM »
Hi all,

I taught myself Copperplate a few years ago. When I had enough practice under my belt, flourishing was the next step - flourishes add a whimsical and elegant touch to letter compositions that I love. Just the letters weren't doing it for me any more.

I looked at a ton of flourishes online and in books. Bill Hildebrandt's book is touted as the #1 resource to learn, but I find most of his flourishes incompatible with Copperplate, so the book wasn't as helpful as I'd hoped. But whenever I tried to sketch my own flourishes, I failed. It felt like I totally lack the imagination to see potential connections between letters that could be developed into flourishes. That calligraphy is my first experience with graphic design doesn't help either. I feel like I'm missing some crucial visual skill.

Has anyone had the same experience? How did you overcome it?

I was so frustrated seeing no way forward that I quit calligraphy for 2 years. I've started again and would like to improve, so I'd appreciate any help.

I have considered taking online classes (in person not available where I live), but the problem is not repeating the flourishes and doing drills, it's imagining and creating flourishes from scratch.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2018, 01:25:31 PM by evad »

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 5117
  • Karma: 290
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: Frustrated with beginner flourishing - looking for help
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2018, 03:15:53 PM »
Hi @evad!

I hope at some point in the next year my new book will be published which will help with this very issue. But in the meantime here is a small tutorial for getting started: Flourish Your p's, d's, and g's.

Also, keep in mind, you will repeat flourishes. Flourishes are just like letter forms, they have building blocks to create each flourish. Some of them just grow and grow from the same strokes. The drills teach your hand and arm the muscle memory necessary to execute beautiful, graceful strokes. Without doing them, you may eventually make beautiful flourishes, but while tedious, the drills actually speed up your learning and improve your form.

There are a couple online flourishing workshops that look great and will teach you how to do these basic flourishes and how to build on them. I would recommend starting with one of those.

Also, there are few calligraphers who can imagine flourishes without any exemplar (at least until they have memorized a few). Just like one should always work with a great exemplar, one should also always work with a good flourish exemplar. Find some of the ones you like and then practice those and start building your own library/exemplar of them.

I hope that helps!  ;D
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline evad

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Frustrated with beginner flourishing - looking for help
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2018, 03:47:32 PM »
Hi Erica! Thank you for your insight, much appreciated. I'll check out the tutorial you posted, and looking forward to your book! :)

Offline jeanwilson

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 881
  • Karma: 142
    • View Profile
    • Pushing the Envelopes
Re: Frustrated with beginner flourishing - looking for help
« Reply #3 on: October 09, 2018, 07:47:57 PM »
Evad - the fact that you can see how the Hildebrandt flourishes are not compatible with copperplate indicate that you have a good eye - which is important.
Some people are not bothered by flourishing that does not conform to some basic fundamentals - which is fine - if they like to do their own thing.
But if you can see the difference and have a preference for the traditional - your keen eye will be an asset.

During my many years of teaching, I have never seen anyone who found flourishing to be easy and I recall all of my teachers saying the same thing....
most people are incredulous at the amount of time it takes to learn traditional flourishing.
IMHO - the thing that makes it difficult is that it requires whole arm movement - and most people have never done it and it's hard to learn it from a book.
Also, it is very difficult to do flourishing slowly. It requires some speed as well as precision - and that simply takes time.

Hopefully online courses with videos will be the solution.
Another point that I have heard from many people - is the comparison to ballet.
It looks effortless - but it is actually physically grueling and takes a lot of serious study. There are no short cuts.
Flourishing is not the same level of physical effort as ballet - but the precision and coordination is pretty similar.

With your good eye, some good instruction, and determination, you should be able to achieve your goal - give yourself some time.
I learned the basic figure 8 flourish and I'm sure that I did not bother to add any more for at least two years.
After I could execute it over and over - instead of hit or miss - I added the kidney bean flourish. Then it was probably only 6 months before I added another one.
I don't recommend trying to learn more than one at a time.
Not that any of my students listen to me.
They pretty much try all of them at the same time and then ask me why they aren't progressing......
« Last Edit: October 10, 2018, 06:54:19 AM by jeanwilson »

Offline evad

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 27
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Frustrated with beginner flourishing - looking for help
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2018, 06:23:23 AM »
Jean, I loved your encouraging reply, thank you so much. I have more enthusiasm and optimism now and have started practising again.

Offline Steph C

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 21
  • Karma: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Frustrated with beginner flourishing - looking for help
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2018, 11:45:10 AM »
Hello @evad  :)

Like you Iím a self-taught in Copperplate/Engrosserís. After practicing diligently for more than 2 years, I want to move on to the next level, that is, flourishing. I did try ďcopyingĒ the flourishes other calligraphers do. But no matter how I try, I find that thereís something wrong with the way I do it. My main problem is basically how to do it properly. Itís something I cannot learn on my own. Also, there arenít references to how to flourish.

Iím currently taking an online flourishing class from Younghae (@logoscalligraphy). And Iím learning so much. She explains the rules and basics to flourishing. I can now confidently design flourishes for a word. I still have to improve my forms, but I know drills and practice will help with that.