General Categories > Copperplate, Engrosser's Script, Roundhand Calligraphy

Being self-taught

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Ken Fraser:
Being self-taught isn't necessarily a bad thing.
I know that being taught in person by a skilled craftsperson in Calligraphy and Penmanship, is the ideal situation as flaws and errors can be picked up and corrected simply.
However, with a bit of patience and perseverance it's possible to self-teach. In fact, it's sometimes preferable as there are some practitioners out there whose work is inferior and who are passing on their faults to beginners. It can take some time to develop the eye to discern between the good and the not-so-good. There's no regulation and there are many out there just looking for a quick buck.
Take advice from someone whose work you admire and respect or do the following -
For Beginners - a personal method
As regards learning Copperplate (English Roundhand) this was my method, years ago. it was a bit laborious but it did work.
Working from exemplary lettering in The Universal Penman I wrote out the whole minuscule alphabet a few times at x height 8mm. I then studied each letter carefully, being really critical. There were one or two letters which were OK first time. These I put, mentally ,to one side and wrote out just the remaining letters again. I did this repeatedly, discarding the letters which looked Ok until I was left with two or three letters which still gave me trouble, After repeatedly writing just these letters, I finally arrived at the point where I was happy with the whole minuscule alphabet and could write it all easily, without too much trouble. I then repeated the whole process with the majuscules. Once I had the whole alphabet down, I them moved onto combinations of letters and finally, words.
If this is done assiduously, it's possible to self-learn Copperplate lettering in this way and It will stay in the memory and can be used as required, without constant reference to exemplars.

Erica McPhee:
Excellent advice Ken. I am an example of what not to do. I was self taught for many years (decades) but didnít do what you suggest - I did not study the letterforms. I looked at them often enough for sure. But I didnít really STUDY them. So I wasnít truly seeing what I thought I was.

What resulted was years of experience practicing mediocre letterforms. It wasnít bad calligraphy, it just wasnít good Copperplate (in my case, Engrosserís Script). But then I went back and *did* study the letterforms and it changed my entire hand for the better. I had to relearn Copperplate but it was worth it.

Thanks for sharing!  :)

Zivio:
You had me at "self-taught," Ken! Being a lifelong autodidact, from personal interests through a professional career, has served well and adds a component of satisfaction and joy for me. While the gold standard of learning from a skilled master would no doubt be a great benefit, it is just not in the works for me at this juncture.

I like the descriptions of how you went about your learning and have  picked up some good ideas from it.

And your contributions on this forum have always been a great inspiration! Keep doing and sharing what you do, dear soul.

With respect,
Karl

Cyril Jayant:
Excellent idea Ken!!!
I am on the self-taught  path for sometimes. But my progress is very slow...But I am happy for what I have done so far. But I need to speed up.
I am struggling now in between few styles of writing methods as I am getting easily board when I keep to one calligraphy. Ex. Copperplate and then I try to go into something else.
I highly value your method of self-taught. I am going to do it and see how it works. I am sure this is the way to go back to a flow and improve my writing.
Thank you again for the share!!!

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