Author Topic: Flourishing help  (Read 12766 times)

Offline Nickkih

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Flourishing help
« on: February 03, 2014, 05:02:38 PM »
As I get more and more into the pointed pen calligraphy - I really struggle with flourishing. Not just when to add it or where to add it ~ but how to flourish period. Can anyway help with maybe some docs that have some instructions on how to practice flourish. I'm making my son a card to send to him for his birthday and I would love to add some flourish but it looks awful.  HELP!
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Offline Martín

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #1 on: February 04, 2014, 01:42:10 AM »
Hi Nickkih,
   I also struggle with flourishes, in pointed pen scripts (italic, I can do tom some extent), so I try to keep them to a minimum (those simple ones I can do moderately well). In your example, it seems like you were doubting yourself all the time, hence the poor form. Taking advice from the great Madarász: "Know what you want to execute". It might help to pencil your flourishes first, and when you're satisfied with the design, ink them with confident strokes. I wish I could show you some examples of mine, but as I said, it's a weak point. If you want to learn, you can find plenty of material on the IAMPETH site: http://www.iampeth.com/lessons_flourishing.php

Offline ErikH

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #2 on: February 04, 2014, 02:56:55 AM »
Martín's tip about knowing what you want to execute is probably the most important one that can be given, but there are some tips I've gathered that can probably help as well:
  • Never cross two thick lines - always cross thick and thin or thin and thin
  • Try to cross at (more or less) straight angles - no need to whip out a set square though (it doesn't have to be that precise)
  • On a somewhat related note: it appears to me as if you've tried to avoid crossing lines - don't be afraid of that, either
  • When in doubt, simple is better
  • Try to create parallel lines
  • Try not to make sharp turns - curves should be smooth and flowing

Other than that: practice, practice, practice, study all the examples you can get your hands on and don't be afraid to copy them! There's no shame in that while you're learning - I still find them very hard to come up with myself!

Offline Estefa

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #3 on: February 04, 2014, 03:54:38 AM »
Hi Nikkih, I couldn't agree more with the tips that Martín and ErikH gave you! I can understand that you want to flourish – I also love them and had a hard time to accept that I needed to get a lot of other stuff right before they started to look somehow convincing. So adding to what they wrote I would suggest to write out your layout in pencil first. I know that that sounds boring, but also think that for most of us it is a great help to find a better design, because it forces you to concentrate on the letters / flourishing and not on the material. For example working with white ink is difficult even with more experience ;). I also use tracing paper, I write the words and then put different pieces of tracing paper on and try different flourishes. When I have an option that looks ok I try it in ink (NOT by tracing but by copying by eye – it looks stiff when I really trace in ink). But maybe that works also for others!

And I am afraid that unless you are some super talent it is going to need some time until you are really (or a bit more …) satisfied with the flourishes … it is really not easy for most of us – so don't give up!

I also know how confusing all this information on the Iampeth site can be. So here's an example how some flourishing exercises / warm-ups can look like:


Copperplate_Pr-01 by Estefa1317, on Flickr

I always do warm-ups for the style I want to write in. Here I did the basic strokes for Copperplate including Capital stem etc., then some different oval execises. It is important to try to make them as smooth and regular as possible! The last two lines I tried flourishes I was going to need later. They are copied from historical end-of-line flourishes from the Universal Penman (so they were going to appear later horizontally).

I know that it is not perfect but maybe it is an illustration of what Martín meant by "Know what you want to execute". Also when I know I am going to need a particular difficult capital I practice this, often, often, on my warm-ups.

So that is just what works for me ;)
« Last Edit: February 04, 2014, 04:00:02 AM by Estefa »
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Offline Nickkih

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #4 on: February 04, 2014, 10:03:49 AM »
Thank you guys! Awesome suggestions  ;)
After I posted this I went back and penciled it and tried different ways to do it. I'll post the pic when I'm done but I'm gonna go with simple because I'm not good enough and don't have the confidence to do something elaborate. It's funny Martin was spot on about doubting myself.

Thanks again for all your help and support!!!! You all are awesome!


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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #5 on: February 04, 2014, 12:21:36 PM »
Such FABULOUS responses! Flourishing is hard. There is no getting around it. I am convinced that is the reason there are no classes or workshops dedicated to flourishing lettering.

Flourishing is really no different than learning a style of lettering in that each flourish can be broken down into a specific series of strokes. So when just starting out, I would suggest this - find two or three flourishes you really like and memorize those. Practice them until you know them by heart. Start first in pencil. Then once you have the shape memorized, go to pen and ink and learn where the pressure and release should be.

Flourishing looks random but is actually very calculated. (At least initially). I like to pick a flourish I see in the Universal Penman book and practice it over and over until I get it right. Also, keep a sample sheet for yourself of flourishes that you like. Sometimes flourishing is spontaneous but in a designed piece they are often very planned.

And yes - flourishing takes confidence. Line confidence. This is why memorizing the flourish is so important. You cannot hesitate - it must be one fell swoop and requires more than just hand or finger movement. It must be arm and shoulder movement which takes long hours of muscle training.

In any event, good luck! Your son will love it!
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline Nickkih

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2014, 04:51:04 PM »
Thanks Erica. Yeah I think after doing this envelope both on black paper, sketch and at least 25 times on scratch paper that I'm getting the hang of it. But yes flourishing is rarely spontanous but more often planned and now I see why.
Well here is a pic of it done. I know its not perfect but I'm pretty proud of myself. :-)
 
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Offline Whitney Gothra

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2014, 07:02:03 PM »
Estefa ~ thank you for posting that practice sheet!  I've been working on my ovals this evening and they are a sight to behold!  And not a good sight.  Ha!  I'm definitely going to refer to your sheet for practice ideas.  Your ovals are a thing of beauty  ;D

Offline ErikH

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2014, 03:10:07 AM »
Nickkih: the difference is obvious - it looks a lot smoother and more confident! I'm sure he'll love it!

Estefa, those ovals: sooo... regular... *stare*

Offline Estefa

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2014, 04:42:34 AM »
Well here is a pic of it done. I know its not perfect but I'm pretty proud of myself. :-)

Hi Nikkih, I am also sure your son will be very happy about your card!

Estefa, those ovals: sooo... regular... *stare*
Estefa ~ thank you for posting that practice sheet!  I've been working on my ovals this evening and they are a sight to behold!  And not a good sight.  Ha!  I'm definitely going to refer to your sheet for practice ideas.  Your ovals are a thing of beauty  ;D

Thanks to you both very much, you are flattering me! I am really working on this. I have tons of these sheets ;) (and most look much worse)!

Whitney, I would try these ovals first in pencil. I do that also regularly, in warm-ups and for practising new forms. It also helps tremendously in developing a light touch. When you feel confident, try it in ink, without shades. Like here (Ignore the zig-zags, they are warm-ups for Spencerian). –


Spencerian_warm-ups by Estefa1317, on Flickr

Just after that I usually go on making the shades, like in the other sheet!

The inwards-winding spirals are also a very good exercice to control the movements, I think. – These are some exercises Barbara Calzolari suggested in the workshop last month.

Going with the ovals from very small too bigger will gice you a good feeling when you change from finger movement (small) to hand and then arm movement, when you still have your elbow on the table. Then comes a point where you would have to lift the arm – that's obviously whole-arm movement and usually only used for off-hand flourishing – and please you guys correct me if I am wrong! I usually do capitals without whole-arm movement except when I write quite big.
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2014, 11:16:03 AM »
Great help, Stefani!

Not sure how others do it, but I use whole arm movement for letter flourishing. Not all the time but especially if I'm going above a letter (like d or h) and for large flourishes that loop back and forth.

Nickki - you did a nice job - your son is going to love it!
Truly, Erica
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Offline Nickkih

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2014, 12:25:19 PM »
Again Thank you all for you suggestions and your kindness. I'm in amazing company and not sure I feel worthy. So thank you from my heart for the help, kindness and encouragement. You are all so so talented and i feel very blessed to be in your company.

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Offline Whitney Gothra

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #12 on: February 05, 2014, 12:50:04 PM »
Estefa ~ yowza, thank you!  This forum environment is amazing.  You more experienced calligraphers really do want us newbies to succeed!  Thank you!  I've been so excited in this new medium that I haven't practiced at all in pencil.  I always dive straight into the pen and ink.  I think I'll be a LOT less frustrated with my oval practice if I can first get the hang of it with pencil without wasting my ink.  Ha! 

Offline FrenchBlue Joy

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2014, 01:18:49 AM »
Cool drills, Estefa!  I want to devise a warm-up system that works everything sufficiently before beginning.  I always do warm-ups, but I'd like to ritualize it so that I don't even have to think about it.  When I do my morning yoga, I start with about 20 minutes of sun salutations-- and I keep wanting to have a calligraphic equivalent!   ;D  What combination of these drills do you do every day, and it what order?  I respect your method.   :)

Offline FrenchBlue Joy

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Re: Flourishing help
« Reply #14 on: February 06, 2014, 01:37:12 AM »
Ps-- about flourishes...  (for me, thinking about it this way is helpful, but maybe not for others):

I think beautiful flourishes are the calligraphic equivalent of the tour fouetté in ballet

...meaning they'll be done beautifully when all the basic, component parts of *one* turn are mastered.  In the case of calligraphy, that's the oval...

Flourishes are "advanced"-- they're something it's hard to imagine doing when we just begin a discipline, but which grow out of a lot of practice, and a trained body and eye.  Any calligraphers struggling with flourishes (myself included!) should take heart-- I think we're in good company!   

My yoga teacher always said about advanced postures and students' questions about them:  "Do your practice and all is coming".  ;)

But in the meantime, I struggle too!  Sometimes I have to throw out an entire envelope that is otherwise completely acceptable, because I got confident (or cocky?) and make some kind of ill-considered flourish that I couldn't properly execute, and didn't add anything to the design.  Very easy way to make competent lettering look amateurish.  I think restraint is pretty important in flourishing... the negative space around the flourish has to be considered as much as the form itself. 

Anyway, happy practice, all!  I'm off to do Estefa's drills.  ;)

« Last Edit: February 06, 2014, 09:32:20 AM by FrenchBlue Joy »