Author Topic: paul antonio's scope  (Read 8201 times)

Offline Brad franklin

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paul antonio's scope
« on: February 10, 2016, 06:02:56 PM »
I know a lot of you here have been watching Paul's scopes. The one he posted today about straight vs. oblique holders was very interesting. However I have been struggling with this every since I started pointed pen. When I started calligraphy I googled it and Paul's videos popped up and I immediately felt a connection. I have tried to use a straight holder and failed. I tried off on on ever since and failed. My tines will cross, the lines are not even. It scratches real bad. I know a lot of you are going to give your straight holders a go, but I am curious will you stick with them? or go back to the oblique? I have personally ask this question to IAMPETH and was told I use my oblique with everything except business handwriting and flourishing. Thoughts?

Offline Moya

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2016, 06:47:31 PM »
Paul is absolutely right about the straight holder when he talks about being able to turn it to get swells running in different directions.  Also, he's incredibly experienced, skilled, talented, not to mention kind ... ♥_♥  The man knows what he is about!

What you have to remember though is that so do many other people. As you've just discovered, if you ask at IAMPETH, everyone will have their own answer.  We even had a fairly acrimonious thread in the early days of this forum about straight vs oblique, when I'm sure Paul's name came up also. And I think we eventually all just settled down and let things lie.  Everyone should use the tool that works the best for them.

For me, that's an oblique, and I guess I'll keep taking the pen away and turning the paper to do those sideways swells.  I'd like to master the technique of rolling the pen, but I think that to use a straight holder for copperplate I'd also need to master a different pen grip entirely - did you catch the moment he held the pen up to demonstrate the 55 degree angle?  That is not how I hold my pen, and I think that's why I struggle.

So I guess my tl;dr is:

- learn to use the straight one if you like;
- but use the tool that works best for you and don't let your doubts and fears get the better of you!

Offline Heebs

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2016, 06:58:16 PM »
Yeah definitely don't force anything...I'd rather just turn the paper or scratch a bit when creating horizontal thicks than force myself to use a straight holder
« Last Edit: February 11, 2016, 12:33:10 PM by Heebs »

Offline Estefa

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2016, 03:01:38 AM »
We even had a fairly acrimonious thread in the early days of this forum about straight vs oblique, when I'm sure Paul's name came up also.

Aaah, I just edited that thread

And I think we eventually all just settled down and let things lie.  Everyone should use the tool that works the best for them.

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Offline AndyT

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2016, 04:10:34 AM »
Everyone should use the tool that works the best for them.

This.  The notion that only a straight holder is suitable for copperplate seems to be Antonio's personal hobby horse, and no doubt there are plenty of people who would disagree.  Ken and Joe Vitolo come immediately to mind.  To my way of thinking the only thing that ever matters is the result, and the choice of implement used to hold the nib is a trivial thing.

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2016, 08:38:16 AM »
Everyone should use the tool that works the best for them.
To my way of thinking the only thing that ever matters is the result, and the choice of implement used to hold the nib is a trivial thing.

In total agreement   :) ;) :D ;D

Offline evjo

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2016, 10:54:24 AM »
Before I started studying pointed pen calligraphy, I was doing a lot of drawing with pen & ink using a straight holder.  Once I learned to use an oblique pen, I found it difficult to go back to a straight one.  Then, last year at IAMPETH, I took Bryan Platt's class, Muscular Movement Writing.  Wow.  Using his techniques, I was able to write with a straight holder again.  If you ever get a chance to take this class, I recommend it.

What I like about using pen and ink is the feeling of it.  This is lovely, but it is different than being motivated by a love of doing things perfectly.  I will never be able to do any script perfectly; it's not in my nature.  I have some learning difficulties.  I can learn things, but I get stuck on things I don't understand and cannot move forward.  I get the most when teachers say, "This is my experience; this is what works for me" rather than, "This is The Only Way to do this!" 
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Offline calli

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2016, 12:59:09 AM »
Hi Brad: like you, I  s t r u g g l e d (not sure if yours was as dramatic but) with the oblique holder.  Everyone I asked about using a straight holder told me no, no,no. So I struggled on while the need to burn my oblique was the only thing that got better:-o

Funny enough it's the oblique vs. straight thread on this forum that brought Paul's use of a straight holder for copperplate to my attention (if you want a good chuckle find that thread, lots of passion).  I've followed Paul's work for years but never paid any attention to his or anybody's copperplate how-to cause I wasn't interested.  Well. After reading the threat I had my lightbulb moment.

I didn't burn my oblique holders. What I found was that for me the straight holder gave better control of the nib so I was able to get thicks n' thins and maintaining the 55 degree angle. That was November. Three months later I've got a long way to go but with the frustration of the oblique holder n' nib twisting out of the way I want to continue learning copperplate / English Roundhand / engrosser script.  I still use my obliques for copperplate -I've even purchased more- but while I'm learning will stick to the straight holder.

So if you are comfortable with a straight holder then use a straight holder cause you are not alone my friend.

Offline Entropy

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2016, 03:19:11 AM »
This is a topic that I feel comes up in virtually every calligraphy forum I've ever seen. As with many of us here I've watched Paul's videos and even messaged back and forth with him before (he's such a great guy).

It seems like most of us nowadays started doing calligraphy one our own and took various, unique, winding paths to end up where we are. I started with broad edges because it was easily available, cheap, and sort of fell in love doing foundational and various variants of italics for nearly a year. When I finally moved in from my gateway drug to the hardcore addiction to pointed pen I'm at now about 5 months ago I was so used to using a straight holder that the oblique felt super alien to me. However, after months of using both for several hours a day I now feel like I'm able to produce nearly identical quality of writing (especially in copperplate) with either holder- though admittedly I have to "get my head in the game" by doing stuff with one or the other for a page or so before the muscle memory starts clicking into place.

I'll echo what everyone seems to agree on- that you should use whatever tool gets the job done for you. However, I would suggest (if you haven't done so already) taking up a broad edge script and working that into your practice routine. Though I cannot be entirely certain (and even if I were my experience would serve as anecdotal evidence at best) I'm a firm believer that a lot of the fine movements, dexterity, and visualization that is learned from straight holder work translate directly into oblique as well- so your time practicing other scripts with different tools is never wasted. Both of my teachers, 40+ year professionals at both broad edge and pointed pen, have also reflected this sentiment independently in their classes (though both were also formally trained so I'm not entirely certain if this is a philosophy they adopted or came to independently). Either way, I'm going with it since I'd be happy as a clam if I was able to achieve anywhere near what they have in that same amount of time and it can't be a bad thing to be able to use a wider variety of tools while maintaining quality.

One last thought for you: even after spending an extensive period of time on a tool I still found certain types of movements, especially those that were fairly specific to a type of script, to be extremely tricky. After all those months working on Italics (and I'm absolutely serious that I practiced 4+ hours a day- I had a lot of time and a lot of determination to relearn fine muscle control from my injury) I finally got the courage to really try and learn Fraktur and man... those split tail variants still kick my ass to this day- but I'm pretty certain it's just a matter of time, dedication, and destroying a good crop of cotton in papers, before it starts feeling natural.

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2016, 07:58:22 AM »
The notion that only a straight holder is suitable for copperplate seems to be Antonio's personal hobby horse, and no doubt there are plenty of people who would disagree.  Ken and Joe Vitolo come immediately to mind. 

I'm not convinced by the arguments put forward by Antonio. I have been writing Copperplate with an oblique holder for many years and have never encountered the problems he cites. Also, on the very rare occasions where horizontal strokes are required, it's a simple matter of turning the paper - no big deal.

This compound curve, aka "the line of Universal Beauty" was written with a Hunt 101 nib in an oblique holder.



This whole area is entirely subjective with no proven rights and wrongs and I am vaguely uneasy about any tuition approach which doesn't allow for other equally valid points of view.






« Last Edit: February 13, 2016, 06:39:41 PM by Ken Fraser »

Offline Monica

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2016, 10:21:14 AM »
I watched his video on Vimeo about the straight holder years ago...and I got thinking about that as I'm still learning.

If I am not mistaken, I think I heard Paul say that the Oblique holder was an invention of the American people to write Spencerian...

 If I heard correctly, that means that the Copperplate or English Roudhand style that used to be written in England or Europe before the invention of the oblique had to be done with a straight pen...Is that correct?

Also that old english was more upright and taller then styles such as engrosser's scripts, Bill Lilly's style and maybe some more are the which seem to benefit more from Oblique holders....

What do you guys think?
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Offline AndyT

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2016, 01:15:10 PM »
The oblique pen holder was an English invention as it happens - or at least the earliest known patent is Mordan and Brockedon's from 1831.  It never caught on here, but the idea cropped up again a few times before it caught on in the US around the 1880s.  Prior to that pens were straight, but not necessarily the nibs: once again the name of Mordan comes up as the first recorded patent holder for a cranked steel nib.  They did find a modest market in Europe and all the major pen manufacturers had one in their catalogue.

Of course, English roundhand is originally a quill written script - everything was until the first commercially viable metal pens started to appear in the 1820s.  That means that Platt Rogers Spencer started out with a quill, and in fact he never abandoned it.  The Spencer brothers certainly adopted the steel pen, but you won't find any reference to oblique holders in their literature.  The only place you'll see much about them is in textbooks and periodicals aimed at practitioners of Ornamental Penmanship, which might look like Spencerian but is in fact a different animal.

Fascinating (or stultifyingly boring) as all this is, it doesn't seem particularly relevant to choosing a suitable tool in the 21st century.  Do what thou wilt, I say.  :)

Offline FrancescaV

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2016, 03:41:03 PM »
I started off learning with a straight holder but, being left handed it was an absolute nightmare (for me anyway). I also saw Paul's videos using the straight holder and tried to persevere with it. I found that I wasn't really progressing that much and it was like learning to write again and watching all my right handed peers race ahead. Extremely frustrating. Seeing the John De'Collibus video was like a God send - after a couple weeks I had progressed a lot more than in the long MONTHS struggling away with the straight holder. I agree, use whatever gives you the best results, at the end of the day it is just opinions and everyone is entitled to them.
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Offline Brad franklin

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2016, 12:40:35 AM »
Thanks for all the answers. For me I think I produce better work with an oblique. However I just wanted to use a straight holder just because that is the way he teaches. But I see that everyone is different and what I go for is Zanerian Engrossing script anyway and I know The Zanerian manual says to use an oblique.

Also I do practice broad edge calligraphy. That's what I started with and still study.

Offline Ken Fraser

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Re: paul antonio's scope
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2016, 06:42:06 PM »
FYI  I've added a photo of a compound curve written with an oblique holder, to my earlier reply #9.