Brush lettering as contour drawing

"Contour drawing" using a page from one of Carl Rohrs' workbooks. Cocoiro brush pen on Strathmore Drawing 300.
“Contour drawing” using a page from one of Carl Rohrs’ workbooks. Cocoiro brush pen on Strathmore Drawing 300.

Today I returned a Carl Rohrs workbook that I had a borrowed from my friend Rose several (or more) months ago. Rose had been doing some brush lettering earlier, and we got to talking about the challenges of brush lettering, trying different tools, talking about that luscious dragging-the-bristles-around-the-arc thing that Carl does … the usual thing that happens when you’re standing in someone’s studio and there’s pen/brush, paper, and paint out on the table ­čÖé

Anyway, I kept thinking about it as I finished running errands. When I got back to my studio I opened up the Carl Rohrs workbook that I own and started copying a page of lettering he provided. I treated it like a contour drawing, not looking much at the paper but trying to feel the shape and speed and gesture of the letters. During some part of the exercise I realized that not even the letters were registering, much less the words, and I only later realized that some figures were Roman numerals, for instance. I like this kind of practice, and plan to continue it for at least a little while.

P.S. If you saw this side-by-side with the workbook page, you would probably be surprised at how little they resemble one another. For one thing, I skipped and duplicated and re-tried things as I went. For another, I didn’t duplicate the line leading, naturally crowding the leading as is my wont.