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Q: Lift the pen between strokes?


Dear Spencerian experts,

I'm taking Spencerian up for real now and I've got a question that bothers me: In some books I'm learning from (Mainly the Zaner-Bloser one I got from IAMPETH) the strokes a letter is made up from are shown. But am I supposed to lift the pen after each individual stroke (or "principle")? For instance, do I write an a like this: upstroke - lift - oval - lift - downstroke or an m like this: upstroke - lift - downstroke - lift - upstroke - lift .... you know what I'm getting at. Or should the writing be one continuous motion?
Unfortunately I can't remember from my workshop  :-\


Welcome to the madhouse that is Spencerian Natascha!
I believe it should be written fluidly and minimal or no lifts. The point is to have a controlled speed which is rapid yet flowing. If one lifts too much, it will interrupt the flow and will look weird if the lines are not joined. By not lifting, one can write quickly and maintain a nice continuous flow. The example you give has way too many lifts. The lowercase m can be written without any lifts.

However, it is still handwriting and thus personal. If you feel it will be easier to lift, then you can lift. It is also possible to pause and lift for large capitals or to shift the paper.

Some penman signatures are written without lifts and all done in one go. It is amazing to trace the start to the end and see the continuous unbroken flow. If you study the masters exemplers you can see the lines are unbroken and thus they lift very little.

You should also read the Lessons in Ornamental Penmanship by Del Tysdal, there are 6 sections but he analyzes Madarasz's writing and penlifts very accurately. It is very insightful:

Thank you so much! I'll diligently study Del Tysdal's analyses :)


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