Tutorials > Kind Critique

It's not coming easily to me!

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Not only am I frustrated by the amateurish look of my latest, most painstaking attempts, but I just lost a nice long post which makes me all the more frustrated! Anyway, I just can't seem to get the shaky, drawn look of my letters to melt into smooth strokes even though I seriously have been practicing night and day. Do I need to take a Xanax first? Am I just not a natural so even though I practice and practice, I am practicing the wrong letterforms? Will I always retain that "drawn" look rather than a natural flow? I've tried going faster and going slower. Neither seems to work. Don't even ask me about my attempts at modern/contemporary calligraphy.

This is the hardest fun thing I've ever attempted!!

Oh, and of course I smudged ink on my scanner. Too impatient to let the ink dry!


envelope1 1 by Ellen Wigginton, on Flickr

Hi Ellen! It's 5:30am here in Manila and I haven't slept because I'm practicing for envelope addressing too!  :-[

I find it important to rinse my nib every now and then just to make sure I'm not having ink stuck somewhere in between. Also, a trick I read somewhere was to dip the nib in gum arabic, wipe it clean, then dip in clean water, and wipe it clean before you restart--makes nib flow smoother and lessen the pressure you need to release for the ink to flow. 

I do better when I'm practicing, but my nerves also give me that shaky outcome when I'm on an actual envelope. *sigh* If it matters to anyone, I have a glass of wine while I write when I feel like I'm overflowing with concentration mixed with impatience. And a good playlist from 8tracks.com won't hurt too.

Virtually sending a You-Can-Do-It,

P.S. I find the capital T and H (along with F) particularly challenging!

Thanks, Katia, for commiserating. I KNOW I can and WILL do this! I vow to be Erica's poster girl for how successful a teacher she is. I seriously feel like that old dog who can eventually learn a new trick after many whacks with a newspaper. (Figure of speech only, I would never advocate striking any creature ever.)

Sherry Lu:
Could it be the paper? I found when doing envelopes (for Christmas cards), it definitely didn't look as smooth as my Rhodia practice pad. The nib probably catches more on rough-ish paper, and makes it less smooth? I can't wait to be able to write smoothly on ANY surface!!

Hi Ellen! I know it can be frustrating, but if it makes you feel any better, I can definitely see that you're improving.  :)  I agree with Sherry, good paper definitely helps... the Rhodia pads are awesome. You might be putting too much pressure on yourself... maybe take a day or two off now and then, don't look at your stuff, then come back to it with fresh eyes. Sketching letterforms with a pencil first might help you get into the flow a little easier, too. Play around with the consistency of your ink/gouache by adding more or less gum arabic, distilled water, etc. Try taking some big deep breaths before you write, consciously releasing all the tension in your shoulders/neck/arms/hands when you exhale.

I dunno, just some ideas that may or may not work... everybody's different. But definitely just have fun with it!  ;)


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