Another day, some ABC practice

2015-08-18-daily-ABC-with-Pentel-brushThinking about space and connection. I find the KL area difficult.

I think of myself as a person with a long attention span, but I'm finding that I lose focus about J or so. Maybe it's not attention span; maybe it's kinetic memory. The ABC is solid, DEF are coming along. GHIJ, slightly less so. And after that it's in and out.

In college when I had to memorize music, especially Bach, I began with the last measure, then the penultimate measure and last measure, and so on (or would that be "so back"). Memorization has always been difficult for me. This method of back-to-front memorization meant that as I played the piece in performance my comfort level increased. It also meant — again, especially for Bach — that if I had a finger fault in one measure, solid ground was available just a few beats away at the beginning of the next measure.

Maybe I should start with XYZ tomorrow. The next day, though, I'd need to start with WXYZ or YZ; there are no measures in an alphabet.

Just a small sample of my stream of consciousness during these ABC exercises ...

Gestural ABC practice from Ewan Clayton’s workshop at The Passionate Pen

2015-08-14-daily-ABC-with-Pentel-brushAt the annual calligraphy conference held this year in Sonoma County last month, I was honored to attend Ewan Clayton's four-day workshop entitled "The Spirit of Invention". We looked at new directions which several German calligraphers took after World War II. One of these calligraphers, Werner Schneider, explored handwriting and gestural mark-making.

We were introduced to an image of a gesturally made "ABC", and every morning we began with a page or more of the same, first copying that gesture and then branching out on our own, changing the gesture and/or adding more letters.

As we repeated the exercise each morning of the workshop, I was interested to see not just kinetic memory development but a change in my own awareness of what I was doing. Here's one example: I would make the A and the B and then change my position to make the C. I was totally unaware of this until Ewan pointed it out to me. Something I figured out on my own, later: I was losing focus at the end of the C.

Back home, I've continued the practice, spurred by the purchase of a 100-sheet roll of packing paper at Home Depot for $4.97. A few days later I realized that I had an 18" x 24" pad of newsprint that would serve even better, especially in keeping the pages in order. (I'm working from the back of the pad of paper to the front.) Every once in awhile I'll switch to better paper. I've used a number of tools: the Winsor Newton 7 Series brush that I used for most of the exercises during the workshop, a blue slick-rolling pen that was in our conference goody back, a couple of Pentel Color Brushes.

I'm learning a lot, but most of it is difficult to communicate.