Show Your Work: Calligraphy Beginnings Part 3

Thanks to everyone who responded with likes and comments on the photos I posted on Instagram and Flickr for my first set of exercises as a calligraphy beginner.

The support, excitement and encouragement that felt really great.

Thanks to everyone who responded with likes and comments on the photos I posted on Instagram and Flickr for my first set of exercises as a calligraphy beginner.

The support, excitement and encouragement that felt really great.

Below is the third set of my practice run. I decided I’ll post in sets. It’s more manageable for me and I’m sure you would rather not be inundated with post after post of my calligraphy practice runs!

Capital A's.
Capital A’s.
Capital H's.
Capital H’s.

Rinse and repeat.

I’ve mentioned below how odd it is to see a letter over and over again. My eyes do get cross-eyed when I’m say, staring at a sea of captial H’s.

And as tedious and boring as it may seem, repeating a sea of A’s, H’s, M’s … I’ve discovered what aspects of each letter require special attention or more accurately, which parts of the letter I had trouble with the last time.

What I also found interesting is that I could almost tell that the letter wasn’t going to turn out so great simply by where I started my stroke. I had many silent cringe moments when I would realize this in the middle of a letter. Rats!

Capital M practice
Capital M practice

Slowing down definitely helps.

It really makes you think about every placement of ink and the pressure with which you use to create thin and thick strokes. Slowing down makes you think about spacing and where to begin and end.

The creation of each letter feels very Zen. Even the sounds of the pen moving across the paper makes the process feel so real. Yeah, that’s about as best as I can explain it now.

My turtle helps me remember to slow down.
My turtle helps me remember to slow down.

Calligraphy for me at this phase of my life is a way for me to recharge; to decompress; to be quiet.

The results so far may not be as beautiful as say calligraphy studio Brown Linen or calligrapher Molly Suber Thorpe, but for me, I’m happy to just start, do and make.

It’s a wonderful feeling.

Show Your Work: Calligraphy Beginnings Part 2

“Slow down” is the constant reminder in my head as I see the details of my mistakes or what I perceive to be mistakes. Once I listen, the slower movements seem to yield better results.

We’ll see. Is 10,000 hours enough?

A few days ago I wrote about being a beginner again.

In the spirit of “learning it out in the open” and “Document[ing] your progress and share as you go so that others can learn along with you” from the book, Show Your Work by Austin Kleon, this is exactly what I plan to do. So, I hope you are interested and want to follow me on my journey as I learn calligraphy.

Note: I’m also sharing a few photos of my progress on Instagram and Flickr, too but here is where I’ll be sharing more photos and more thoughts about lessons learned.

Yesterday I started to practice my capital B’s, O’s and R’s.

If you are wondering why I’ve started with these letters, I’m focusing on the letters of my name first. It seemed to be the most logical!

Repetition

It’s the weirdest thing to look at duplicates of letters. After awhile they start to look funky and I feel cross-eyed. But I think that my execution improves due to a better understanding of what is working and not working.

(You’ll see some notes on my sheets as I got a bit frustrated or found some humor in my goofs.)

The results of about 30-45 minutes — capital B's O's and R's.
The results of about 30-45 minutes — capital B’s O’s and R’s.

I felt like the hardest parts of capital B’s and R’s were the following:

  • Consistency with the bowls in terms of angle or is it axis? (Forgive me if my type terminology isn’t quite right. I’m rusty and correct me if I’m totally off!)
  • Consistency in where the thick and thin strokes would appear.
  • When to move into the tail for the R’s so they don’t look too wide and funky.
Getting the top of the B and the bottom bowl to be consistent in angle/axis was the big challenge.
Getting the top of the B and the bottom bowl to be consistent in angle/axis was the big challenge.
Ink issues.
Ink issues.

The O’s … oy.

I have to confess that I thought capital O’s were going to be super easy — hah!

If I was just creating a beautiful counter, it would have been easier but the little swash made getting the proportion of the counter that much harder.

I think it worked out better as I went a long but those first few were super butt-ugly. I had to laugh out loud because they looked utterly ridiculous!

See the second O? Hilarious.
See the second O? Hilarious.

Make like a turtle

I have a turtle figure around here somewhere and I’m going to put it near my — borrowing a cooking term here — mise en place for calligraphy to remind me to slow down.

“Slow down” is the constant reminder in my head as I see the details of my mistakes or what I perceive to be mistakes. Once I listen, the slower movements seem to yield better results.

We’ll see. I mean, I had this thought: How will I know if my execution is good without an expert? You know that 10,000 hours concept? 10,000 hours isn’t all that it was cracked up to be.

Next letters are capitals A’s, H’s and M’s. Yeah, I think 3 letters each time is good. I like three’s.

What I Learned This Week: Random Mix

12 Million: Americans with sensory disabilities
26 million: Americans with Physical disabilities
16 million: Americans with mental/cognitive disabilities

— Scott Mayer, Usability Services Specialist, American Family Insurance from the art of web accessibility by Steve Grobschmidt, in his article, Multiple Facets of Accessible Design – Scott Mayer Presentation

I’m still processing a ton of information about web accessibility and disabilities. All I know is that I want to do better to help make experiencing the web easier for as many people as possible.

Web Standards is About Quality

“…when you examine the fullness of the technical and experiential results of crafting websites and web applications according to Web standards, and compare the results with efforts not crafted according to these standards, what you’re confronted with is a stark contrast in what really matters: quality. It is the idea of quality, not standardization, which provides the compelling argument for the Web Standards Project and for the W3C.” — Andy Rutledge, Web Standards: it’s about qualty; not compliance

Quality. It was the first article about Web Standards that put all my learning and efforts into a greater context. (Thank you Andy for being so eloquent.) The learning continues of course, and I highly recommend reading the entire article. If you are interested, he also has a great cycling blog.

Really, Write to One Person

I’ve read and heard this advice at least a million times and for some reason, Sonia’s marketing advice resonated with me this week. Maybe because I like the photograph of two girls dancing in the snow. It brought back a memory. Maybe it was just the right time. All I know is I feel like I’ve been all over the map and I want to make the kind of connection she made with me.

I Want to Grow My Business

So my goal in the next few weeks is to hire a virtual assistant. This scares me and I know that if I ever want to grow my business, I need to get the help I need. But finding one is not easy. I did a search on twitter and wow, there are so many! After what seemed like hours, I finally stumbled upon a woman who created this great resource for hiring a virtual assistant. Now I feel more confident speaking with one or two or more to find a good match.

Great Grey Owls Can Live to 40 Years

I think that is amazing. I never really thought about it much until I saw this picture of a Great Grey Owl by photographer Markus Mauthe. I wonder if the owl in the photograph will make it to 40.

There it is. Five things I learned this week. 

My First Soft Cover Coptic Bound Book

I ventured out in the “snow storm” today to make it to a bookbinding class taught by Rory Sparks at Oblation Papers & Press.

There were just four of us so we had a cozy great time in the back room of Oblation settled inside a maze of beautiful papers and C&P Pilot presses.

So, here is my first coptic bound book!

20081214IMG_6136copticBook.jpg

20081214IMG_6140coptic-book-detail.jpg

The stitching is too loose (lesson learned) and I was having trouble with the waxed thread. The wax builds up at the eye of the needle and makes it very challenging to sew through the signatures. The wax also gets on your fingers and makes the needle too slippery. Next time I’m opting to wax my own thread with beeswax.

I’m thinking another reason my book is loose-y goose-y: I was being extra gentle with the signatures. I suppose my childhood timidness comes out every now and then 🙂