Author Topic: Flourishing in Spencerian  (Read 874 times)

Offline Despoina

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Flourishing in Spencerian
« on: December 14, 2023, 09:58:05 AM »
Hello everyone!

I recently started flourishing in Copperplate and at the same time, veryyy slowly, the basic strokes of the Spencerian script. Hopefully, will be able to get to the letters soon enough. I was wondering if the same rules, placements, flourishes I have learnt in Copperplate aply also the same at the Spencerian. Like, in Spencerian, will I flourish in the exact same way? And only the script is changing? Or Spencerian script has any special "tips"?

Thank you in advance :-*

Offline Zivio

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Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2023, 11:03:23 AM »
Greetings, @Despoina!  Your question particularly resonates with me, as I am only fairly recently beginning to study, learn and apply flourishes to my Spencerian practice.

I will, however, offer my standard disclaimer: I’m no expert on the topic and still consider myself very much a beginner, so take the following as on the order of opinion.  And, let’s see, oh yeah, “Your mileage may vary.”

I recently completed Suzanne Cunningham’s “The Art of the Oval” four-session class on flourishing. Her first session went over the handout, “Rules, Rules, Rules” and presented 12 of them. Her instruction to us was that they all apply equally to Spencerian.

That said, she demonstrated everything on Copperplate script. Since I haven’t learned that, it was clear that certain of the many flourishes just would not work in the same way on certain Spencerian letters. But then, a big takeaway from the classes is that there are TONS of ways to make flourishes and generate your very own ideas even though certain “rules” (I like the term “guidelines”) apply. 

I’ve fairly regularly run into the metaphor, “there are no calligraphy police watching your moves/work” here at the Flourish Forum as well as in Suzanne’s very class!  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for me, especially with flourishes, this seems to be very true. Aesthetic beauty will be experienced differently for each of us. Oh, and Platt Rogers Spencer, himself, welcomed individuality in the writing of his eponymous script! Can’t find the quote for you at the moment, but trust me.

What is working for me is to look at a lot of examples of calligraphy and Spencerian script — both historical as well as by contemporary adepts. While there may be a lot of similarities and “repeats,” very quickly one finds that flourishes and OP, in general, spans a wide spectrum of expression!  From these examples, I’m discovering my own style and “density” preferences which is informing my practice and performance.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2023, 11:14:06 AM by Zivio »
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Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2023, 02:07:46 PM »
Excellent question @Despoina and equally excellent response @Zivio!

I don’t have much to add to that except for me personally, when I am flourishing for Spencerian, I tend to pull back a bit on the shade so it is less intense than for Copperplate. Only because I try to match the width of the lettering and Spencerian shades are minimal whereas Copperplate letters themselves are heavily shaded. But the shapes should essentially be the same.
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Offline Zivio

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Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
« Reply #3 on: December 16, 2023, 12:34:54 PM »
@Despoina … Still not the quote from Platt Rogers himself I had been looking for, but speaks to individuality in the execution of Spencerian script. 

This is from VARIETY OF STYLE in the volume Spencerian, published by Spencer's sons in 1877 which I’ve excerpted here from Michael Sull’s wonderful new book “Sull’s Manual of Advanced Penmanship,” and I highly recommend for anyone with a bent towards the OP execution of that script!

... In presenting definite rules for the proper formation of letters, it is not designed to confine the skill and ingenuity of the writer within narrow limits, nor to prevent the exercise of peculiar tastes.

We desire, rather, to encourage individuality of style, so far as it may be consistent with propriety, and will, in this chapter, make some suggestions in regard to the changes of which different letters are susceptible, while their proper form is carefully preserved.

The originator of this system, possessing a love for the beautiful, and a power of invention rarely equaled, was enabled to construct upon the basis of the principles he established, a greater variety of graceful and beautiful forms than would have been possible for a mind less exquisitely organized to design, or a hand less accurately trained to execute. The genius which would have made him a master in any department of art, was directed to penmanship ...
« Last Edit: December 16, 2023, 12:37:20 PM by Zivio »
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Offline Despoina

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Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2024, 07:31:40 PM »
Hello @Zivio and @Erica McPhee, so sorry for the late reply, life got pretty crazy lately
Thank you so much for your response and reference @Zivio! You are so right! I, too, took the flourishing class with Suzanne, but as you said, she only demonstrated in copperplate, so I thought some things must be different. Except from the script itself of course  :P (we learnt a ton of flourishes in the class, didn't we? Now it's practice time  8))
 Thank you too, Erica, for the shading tip! Makes a lot of sense!  :* (also, I loved so so much your spencerian in the Christmas cards  :*)

As I'm looking on some calligraphers's spencerian work, I noticed that the "heavy" flourishes and the "weight" of it, is mostly on the capitals and the exit strokes. Not so much on the middle of the words/phrases. Does it seem to be a thing or just personal choices?

Offline Zivio

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Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2024, 08:27:02 PM »


    As I'm looking on some calligraphers's spencerian work, I noticed that the "heavy" flourishes and the "weight" of it, is mostly on the capitals and the exit strokes. Not so much on the middle of the words/phrases. Does it seem to be a thing or just personal choices?



    I don’t have an exact informed opinion about your question, but if I were to guess …
     
    • Spencerian, considered a running hand script, is generally written without as many pen lifts as other scripts like Copperplate so doesn’t naturally lend itself to mid-word flourishes.
    • I believe there is also, maybe unintentionally, a nod to the penmen of old whose extant examples of Spencerian OP mainly flourished on majuscules and exit strokes. Perhaps because of reason just stated.
    • Where I do tend to see perhaps a little more flourishing in the middle in Spencerian has typically been from calligraphers who I believe cut their teeth more on Copperplate or other scripts than on a running hand.
    • Also, where one will find more elaborate flourishing in Spencerian that overflows to the middle of words is in traditional “signature writing” where the penman can get really jiggy with it!

    As said before, aesthetic taste and interest should inform your own choices, unless you are very interested in reproducing writing in a more strictly historical way.  But even then, there are examples of beautiful Spencerian that don’t adhere to the “rules” as we think they are.

    And yes, Suzanne gave us, well me for sure, a lifetime supply of ideas for flourishes!






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    « Last Edit: January 07, 2024, 10:50:51 PM by Zivio »
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    Offline Erica McPhee

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    Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
    « Reply #6 on: January 08, 2024, 07:14:24 PM »
    Such good questions! I can tell you are studying in earnest. I think it may depend on what type of work you are doing. It’s also trickier to incorporate a flourish into a multi-line piece.

    It may also be that Spencerian really crosses over into Ornamental Penmanship when it gets particularly flourished. Back in the day, flourishing was even considered controversial. I found an exchange in one of the old penman’s journals where a penman called for flourishing to be banished! And the response was equally as passionate to keep it. I recount this in my upcoming book.

    I did this little sample for a review of Michael Sull’s new book (which @Zivio mentions above) based on the sample he has in the book. I’m a bit out of practice with Spencerian/Ornamental right now but I think it shows how flourishing differs a bit related to Copperplate. Less shading, larger ovals, etc.
    « Last Edit: January 08, 2024, 07:18:44 PM by Erica McPhee »
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    Erica
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    Offline Erica McPhee

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    Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
    « Reply #7 on: January 08, 2024, 07:15:53 PM »
    One thing I really like about the flourishing used in Ornamental Penmanship is how the flourishes cross through the words. With Copperplate flourishing, you usually see an extension going above, to the side, or under the word. With OP, the flourishes move through the design.
    Warm Regards,
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    Offline Erica McPhee

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    Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
    « Reply #8 on: January 08, 2024, 07:20:17 PM »
    P.S. I’m so happy you like the card!  :-*
    Warm Regards,
    Erica
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