General Categories > Open Flourish | General Discussion

Don't cry over spilled ink. A newbie calligrapher's diary.

(1/7) > >>

Being a newbie I drool over a lot of work shown here and on IG that you pros easily self-criticize. I only hope some day my best work is equal to your rejects!  :)   In the meantime, I practice away hoping to get these old muscles to develop some memory. I just filled four entire pages full of capital Rs and there isn't a one that I would show on the board for criticism, no matter how gentle it was! This stuff can be hard but I work away knowing at some point I'll get better.

How about the rest of you newbies? Got any funny stories to share? Have you dipped your pen into your iced-tea yet? (You can substitute Coke, Pepsi, Root Beer, Dr. Pepper or any other brown consumable liquid and you will likely do it at some point ;).) How are you progressing? Any epiphanies? Do your friends/family think you're crazy because every time they see you you're hunched over your work area muttering, with dishes piled up in the sink and your unwashed children are beginning to look forward to visits from UPS because you get excited over a new ink or nib delivery?   

I'm trying to be practical about all this and realize that most of the pros on this board have spent decades studying. I don't expect perfection in anything else I do so why would I start now with this new hobby? Heck, I've been sewing for over forty years and whenever I sew something, I mess up somewhere. Every. Single. Time. I'm viewing this strictly as a hobby and purely for my personal enjoyment. Just like the dozens (hundreds?) of hobbies I've had over the years. I'm also looking at it with a sense of humor since it can be really, really intimidating when some discussions turn very philosophical on the forum and I'm still trying to figure out how to tell a G nib from a 41 or a 982 or whatever! (Those teeny tiny letters on the nibs aren't really meant for human eyes to read, are they?)

So, please share some of your highs and lows here with me and let me know I'm not alone in this journey with my badly ink-smudged practice pages. You're having fun too, right? Did you make a reasonably acceptable number one today?


You're definitely not alone Ellen. I really see myself reading your post. Anyway I already meet this problem in an other domain (webdesign) some years ago, and I learned that time and practice (a lot) is the key.

We often tend to be frustrated, even more today because we can see all those talented "pros" like you said, sharing their creativity and totally forget it's often the work of a life. Personally, when I take a look at my instagram feed or even a calligrapher's website, it's like a big kick of motivation: "Oh yeah, that's why I'm spending all this time in this practice"

Anyway for me, (1 month of practice, more or less 1-2h a day), I have to say it's still really bad for now, I mean, no straight lines, no beautiful flourishes (Erica keeps her flourishes video secretely ;)), nothing pro. But if I look at the work of the previous weeks, I see some changes (good ones).

I think calligraphy is all about this, a lot of time and self-infestment. Slow, hard but well rewarded efforts.. at the end (if there is an end, probably not) ;) I think it's more about an apprehension than something else, don't discourage yourself, be sure to get the good tools, the good position, the good paper, and you'll improve your writing for sure. =)

Maybe share a pic of your writing or problem here so experienced calligraphers can tell you obvious errors and any other suggest to improve your work!

I'm not so much on number today, for me something really hard is letter-spacing. That's what I'm focusing on these days =)

Anyway I hope it will reassure you, let all this frustration down and believe in your capacity!

Nice Plume:
Dear Ellen, dear Vince, ho boy !!! I've felt exactly the same years ago at the begining !! When I've started, during monthSSS I've written only the "a"'s letter, on Rhodia's blocsssssss !!!!!!!!!!!! I started with italic, In addition, I'm left handed !!!! Well, you just have to practice and believe !!!!
Vince, I understand what you mean : how hard is the letter-spacing !!! Oohhhh yesssss it is !!! Help yourself with the light box ...
I truly Think that it's a long long life of is better than yesterday.....
Keep going  :-*

Thanks =) Erica and others gave me confirmation about the good posture/paper position some days ago. I'm really feeling better now, but I'm still working in really bad condition. You can't imagine how impatient I am to receive my artograph (end of the week or next week maximum, arrrg, so looooooooong ;) )

Erica McPhee:
Thank you Ellen for starting this post and Vince and Nora for sharing. This is why I encourage beginners to share their work. When you see my work - you are seeing 35 years (UGH! - I started at age 10) of experience. And I typically only post the best of my work. So you don't see the stack of 200 pages of less than stellar letters.

I know it is a normal part of the process, but I don't want to discourage anyone. With dedication, you will get there with patience, study, and practice.

In terms of not being alone - there are 400+ members on the forum (hooray) and I would guestimate not even 25% are professional calligraphers. But the other 75% aren't posting their work either because they feel the same as you. Intimidation can be humbling and discouraging. I implore you to reach beyond that and use the posted work for inspiration and encouragement.

I considered splitting the forum into a beginners and pro section but I don't want to foster that kind of distinction. I want the pros to encourage and mentor newbies, the beginners to ask away, the more advanced also be able to enjoy discussion for experienced lettering artists; and for all of us to benefit from a community of varied experience levels.

OK... I'll bow out gracefully now ... carry on!  :D


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version