Filed under: Calligraphy Styles
We recently discussed ways of practising your calligraphy. In that post we said it is best to practise frequently and do so in a constructive and methodical way. By setting yourself a target for the practise session you would be more focused and achieve better results.I thought I would follow this up by describing the way I practised Italic Minuscules. I don’t intend to explain how to write that style rather than my approach to practising the style.The characteristics of Italics are different to those of Roman Capitals and Foundational Hand.The nib is held at 45° to the write-line. So, I constructed a 45° line at the top left on my practise paper (I like to use Layout Paper). Next I ruled up the paper. It’s best to write large at first and at a later stage reduce the x-height. So I started with an x-height of about 15mm. The letters are also sloped at 5°, so I constructed a 5° line and then copied it across the page at 20mm intervals.I was ready to begin; after loading the nib with ink, I hovered it over the 45° line to make sure the pen angle was correct. From experience I find that each practise session starts of badly – it takes a while to warm up. Then for a while you write at your best before starting to become tired and the letters become weaker. So at first I produce a few vertical and horizontal lines to get myself in the right frame of mind and to check the ink flow. It is important the nib is correctly inserted in to the penholder and the ink is flowing nicely. When practising, you do not want to be distracted with any nib and ink flow problems.At this stage, the paper is ruled-up ready including your 5° slope lines and 45° pen angle line. Your nib and reservoir are correctly fitted and the ink is flowing nicely from nib. We are now ready to start writing …..Italic Minuscules can be grouped together based upon similar characteristics. In this practise session I had already decided to practise the ‘O’ group of letters. It is difficult to get the consistency of these letters because they are all based on the oval shape. Getting the shape is not so bad, but to get the same width oval shape is hard. In contrast to this if you were studying Roman Capitals or the Foundational Hand you may be finding it really hard to get a perfect round circle, but at least you can visualise the shape. Visualising the correct width of the oval is a lot trickier.Now warmed up and ready to go, I started by writing out a line of the letters c, e, o, l and t to get going. Next a complete line of the o letter was written. Then I looked carefully at my letters comparing them to the alphabet sampler and accompanying notes. Each letter was analysed and if I thought it was acceptable I placed a small tick next to the letter. If the letter was bad a small cross was made against it. At first there would be whole lines of letters with a cross against each of them. Several lines later a few more ticks started to appear.This technique was then used with the other letters of the group.Towards the end of the session I produced a couple of lines writing each letter of the group in turn.By analysing and marking EACH letter written, quite quickly I found my work would improve. This method was used for each group of letters.Finally, It’s a good idea to date your work and keep all the practise sheets for a while so at a later date you can go back through them and see how much progress you have made.