Working in a blackletter class with John Stevens

This online class finished a couple of weeks ago. However, I’m still working on the plethora of blackletter exemplars and examples that John Stevens shared with us. So it not only was a wonderful class, it still is a wonderful class for me.

A folio of Fraktur lettering, with brush-made abstracted Fraktur forms on the left and pen-made text on the right.
Left: flat brush and Nicker poster color on Artagain black paper. Right: 2mm Brause nib and stick ink on unknown difficult paper. Each page 9×12 in.

John usually includes layout in his classes. And he often uses the folio to combine image and text on the page together. The work above is a response one of those folio assignments.

I still want to spend some time with double-stroked blackletter (this example of John’s is so luscious), Fraktur capitals with pen and with brush, pattern-filled Lombardic capitals, and some Zapf and Koch exemplars. And more …

It’s interesting to compare the lettering I did in this class with the blackletter work I did in Luca Barcellona’s class two years ago. I felt more comfortable with that earlier work, even as it was happening. And I wonder why? I think it may be that the earlier class did not present as many choices, as much background. I feel that I came away from the blackletter class with John Stevens with a whole panoply of lettering choices and ideas, and that I learned one style very well in Luca Barcellona’s class. Both have been extraordinarily valuable classes. And I’m glad that I happened to take the two classes in the order that I did.

Learning Fraktur blackletter style with Luca Barcellona

  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheets
  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheet
  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheet
  • Fraktur blackletter practice sheet

I’m taking Luca Barcellona’s Advanced Fraktur blackletter class through the Society of Scribes, New York City’s calligraphy guild. The last of the three session will take place at the end of next week. Meanwhile, the floor of my studio is simply littered with sheets of blackletter practice. After a similarly structured class with Elmo van Slingerland, I’ve become a little more accustomed to working large. Most of the sheets pictured above are 18 in x 24 in. I’ve done these with a 6mm Pilot Parallel Pen on sheets cut from a roll of white butcher paper. Creamier-toned sheets are Strathmore Drawing 400 paper.

I haven’t taken blackletter from a teacher before, at least not in the past 25 years, and this has been a valuable experience. I missed the previous intermediate class, but I think I’ve been able to catch up. (Having taking two classes through Society of Scribes now, I’ve got to say that Phan Nguyen is the best facilitator ever. He makes the online experience a real pleasure.)


2015-04-11 blackletter trialsI have little affinity for blackletter styles and clients request blackletter (“Gothic”)¬†calligraphy only a few times a year, so I don’t work on it much. This year my study of the Fraktur exemplars which¬†Yukimi Annand¬†generously shared with me has made work on these historic register certificates more enjoyable.