Author Topic: Critique my Spencerian?  (Read 517 times)

Offline MeghanZ

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Critique my Spencerian?
« on: March 07, 2018, 01:47:13 PM »
Greetings all!

I am using the Spencerian Penmanship series of books to teach myself this new style of script.  This is my first foray into penmanship since grade school.  I am an artist who works from home and because I want to incorporate calligraphy and such into some of my illustrations, I am devoting a chunk of my day towards practising.  I currently spend about 3 hours daily doing Spencerian exercises from the book and have been at it for a month and a half. 

I don't find that the penmanship in the books looks as lovely as the samples I have seen online, but it is all I have to go on at the moment.   Could you take a look at my work and let me know what I can work on improving this week? I would appreciate any and all feedback. :)  I am going to try to share my progress weekly.

Thanks guys!

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Critique my Spencerian?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2018, 05:14:00 PM »
I am by no means an expert on Spencerian and I hope that someone who is - will add to the conversation.
I can share a few things that I learned from a workshop with Mike Sull as well a few trips to the IAMPETH conference.

I can't see any details on your scans. Because it looks like you are very consistent, it might be more helpful to post a scan that shows just one example of each word in detail.

https://www.iampeth.com/pdf/lessons-ornamental-penmanship-zaner
This PDF at the IAMPETH website has some samples in the back that are quite lovely. I know what you mean about the penmanship in the books not being as lovely as what you see online. Because the books have to teach the basic building blocks, they are not going to be as lovely. However, those basic building blocks are essential. It's like learning the scales in music. Putting in time on the basics is essential. The pretty stuff comes a little later.

I know that Mike Sull encourages people to spend a fair amount of time on developing rhythm. If your book has cross-drills, it would probably help a lot for you to do some.

I would recommend that you spend some time writing several lines of text all at once, rather than repeating one word over and over. If you are going to be combining your lettering with your artwork, you will probably have text rather than just individual words. Maybe not. But it would be appropriate to practice what you are envisioning on your artwork from the beginning. If your plan was to address envelopes, then it would make sense to spend more time practicing addresses rather than writing long passages of text.

I look forward to seeing some details of your writing. It would be nice for you to post it right next to the same words that are in your book. I have a hard time critiquing when I have no idea what the person is looking at. There are several variations of Spencerian so it's helpful to know exactly which one you are working on.

The IAMPETH website (Lessons) has Spencerian Ladies Hand which is a really beautiful variation. There are two versions.
The one on the left has some very pretty caps that are easier than the traditional caps.
https://www.iampeth.com/lesson/spencerian/spencerian-ladies-hand

Many teachers agree that it can be very helpful to do some practice in pencil. It helps with developing a rhythm because you don't have to deal with the nib and ink - you can just focus on the shapes. Finding the right paper, ink, nib combination is really helpful. I spent almost 10 years being very disinterested in pointed nibs - and I didn't know why. Then - at the workshop with Mike Sull, when he had found the Nikko G nibs to be very beginner friendly with McCaffrey's ink and Rhodia paper - I had a complete turnaround. Pointed pen became my favorite. I know a lot of people do not like how stiff the Nikko G nibs are - but for beginners - if you have McCaffrey's ink (or walnut) you can get really nice hairlines. I can't get satisfactory hairlines on any of the printer papers. So...you might have to try some different nibs-inks-papers before you find the ones that give you the results you are looking for.
« Last Edit: March 07, 2018, 05:23:40 PM by jeanwilson »

Offline jeanwilson

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Re: Critique my Spencerian?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2018, 05:38:01 PM »
If you can't load a photo that will show details - you can start a blog on Blogger in about 2 clicks - and post photos - and then link to them in your posts here so we can see the details.
I think you need a gmail account to start a Blogger blog.
And it is easy to remove photos after they have served their purpose.
A blog would be a fun way to document your progress in one place.

Offline MeghanZ

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Re: Critique my Spencerian?
« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2018, 10:04:49 AM »
Thanks so much for your reply!  Great idea about sharing the words from my book along with my writing sample.  I should have done that right from the beginning. 

I agree that rhythm is important and I appreciate you pointing that out.  I have heard of cross drills in passing, but have not had a chance to investigate further.    I have Michael Sull's Spencerian book on order and am hoping that he will have some examples of these inside.

I have horrible paper at the moment.  We are currently working overseas and there are no decently stocked art or stationary stores in my area.  All the practise paper I have been able to buy bleeds and doesn't behave nicely with my fountain pen or nibs.  :(  When I am back in Canada I intend to stock up, but for now I am restricted to cheap printer paper.  I have not been able to track down any of the HP laser jet ink paper that is recommended on this forum.  In fact, nothing that is recommended online is available here.

Good advice about using a pencil.  I hadn't thought to try that route but I will give it a whirl today.

I am attaching some other photos of my writing (taken closer up) along with the words from the book that I am trying to copy below.  I hope this helps anyone who is able to provide feedback. :)