A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of attending Harvest Crittenden’s workshop hosted by the Big Sky Scribes in Helena. The subject: Spencerian script. I had never studied this hand before. Harvest is very organized and clear, and we learned a lot in a short time. Now all we have to do is … practice, of course.
I haven’t been as regular about it as I could wish, but yesterday I sat down to practice in earnest again. I began with 2 pages of warm-up exercises designed to build kinetic memory. After the page of cross drills, I decided to simply trace, in pencil, a letter written in the 19th century in Spencerian. It helped to teach myself the rhythm of the script, and I was surprised to discover by that method a few things I had been glossing over. Then I wrote a letter in Spencerian using a ball-point pen. I have this lovely ball-point pen with a 0.3 mm point, and I didn’t want to get out ink.
Spencerian practice using a pencil and ball-point pen on B&R layout paper and Crane stationery.
Deadlines are looming and inspiration is elusive. I tidy my studio, clear out some old practice sheets .. and make some more. It’s a never ending cycle.
To entice the muse, I sit down to play a little. I’m thinking of another little book (and just now remembering I’ve never posted the last little book), so I experiment with a number inks/paints and a #6 Mitchell nib. The lettering is 1.5 mm x-height.
In anticipation of the upcoming conference, and the class that will be taught by Carl Rohrs, I get out a brush and do … something. It’s not much, but it reminds me what a pointed brush feels like in the hand. I feel some of the kinetic learning of a recent Spencerian workshop creeping in. That’s good.
Here’s my submission to the envelope contest that John Neal Books hosted in association with Seattletters. The deadline was April 20. The gray lettering is a post I read in a calligraphy group on social media. I surrounded it with text from an 1888 article by A. J. Scarborough which had been posted in 2000 to the Cyberscribes discussion list. I like the contrast in approaches 🙂
I penciled baseline guidelines 2mm apart for the small lettering, making the x-height about 1mm. I clipped a pointed nib (a blue Esterbrook of some sort, I think) to make a tiny broad-edge nib. Seattleletters address is #5 Mitchell nib, I think.
After all that work, I couldn’t bear to send it through the US Mail unprotected, so I made another envelope, just ¼” larger in each direction, to house the submission.
This piece, “Prairie Spring”, is currently on display in “The Horse” exhibition at the Ryniker-Morrison Gallery of the Rocky Mountain College in Billings, MT. The text is a Willa Cather poem of the same name.
I’m so pleased to have been selected for inclusion in the annual juried review issue of the Letter Arts Review! And to be included as a tile on the page cover (top right)!
I realize that although I have posted a process image of the piece , I never did post a final image. Here it is, shown below. I’m also honored to have “Fragment” included “Formation,” a juried exhibition of the Guild of Book Workers which will travel to Minneapolis, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Boston, and Philadelphia in the coming year.
I’m taking my very first online calligraphy course. “Homegrown Trajans” is taught by the wonderfully clear and thorough master Yves Leterme via Harvest Crittendon’s site, Acorn Arts. It’s as rigorous as anyone could wish for, and I’m already just a tiny bit behind. Week 3 posted today, but these are my worksheets from week 1 (complete) and week 2 (not quite complete). I think some of these students have no other demands on their time! Or perhaps I’m just incredibly slow. Either way, I’m buckling down tonight and catching up.
I do like to return to the gestural brush alphabet from time to time, especially when I pair with a contrasting element. This particular one was made to put in the solo exhibit in Missoula last fall.
Having embarked today on Yves Leterme’s online course, “Homegrown Trajans”, I can predict that I won’t be doing anything like the above in the near future. Unless … it’s as relief from those demanding Trajan Romans.
I’ve been preparing for our next pointed-pen class, when we will be experimenting with using the pressure and release of the pen to make decorative oval borders around some lettering. Here a few examples of what that could look like.