As you know, I like to dabble in different things. A few months ago, I decided to learn about hand lettering, also commonly referred to as brush lettering, brush calligraphy or modern calligraphy. I make cards and I wanted to learn some different lettering styles so that I’m not always restricted by the stamps I have on hand and so that I can make cards that are 100% made by me, as opposed to just stamped and coloured by me.
As usual, I went off to the Google machine and began my search. I found a lot of resources. I printed off some worksheets, even bought some stuff from Amazon, and started in.
You may remember from a previous post, I’m not the most patient of individuals when it comes to learning new things. I have good handwriting and printing so I thought this would be a snap. Turns out it wasn’t and I was tempted – a lot – to throw in the towel (my standard go-to response when something doesn’t come easily to me).
Thankfully, pretty much all the resources I had read talked about the importance of practice – practice, practice, practice. So I didn’t give up.
One key thing that I learned early on is that hand lettering is completely different than writing. You can’t think of them the same way at all. Hand lettering is actually more like drawing letters than writing or even printing them. Drawing each individual letter and, in fact, each individual stroke of each letter. Where I can write a stream of lovely, flowing cursive, I can’t do the same with hand lettering.
I know I can’t because I tried. It didn’t work. And it didn’t look good. At all. So I forced myself to slow down. I stopped at each stroke. I made each stroke intentional. I learned to breathe in on the upstrokes and out on the downstrokes.
Where I was initially impatient to be able to fluidly write beautiful words, in all the colours of the fancy (and unnecessary) markers I’d bought, I have since come to enjoy the actual process of the drills. Breathe in, light stroke upwards. Breathe out, firm pressure downwards. Lift the pen; turn it so as to not permanently bend the nib in one direction. Light pressure up; firm pressure down. Breathe in; breathe out.
If you’ve ever done any meditation, some of that will sound familiar. I found myself quite surprised about that familiarity, actually.
What I had intended to be a means to an end – learning necessary skills so I could make pretty letters and words – has inadvertently become so much more. I have come to look forward to and really enjoy the calm and focus (which so often elude me) of the drills. I particularly enjoy how they force me to slow down, especially my racing thoughts.
Surprisingly, the meditative aspect has become even more important to me than becoming successful in the artistic side of it. I almost (heavy on “almost” 🙂 ) don’t even care if I become adept at making the words that had initially drawn me to this practice.
Want to learn more?
If this is something you think you might be interested in, here are some websites I have learned a lot from. I particularly enjoy the drills from The Happy Every Crafter site.
There are a lot of different tools you can get but you really don’t need anything fancy.
For pens, I recommend getting a smaller brush pen to start. I couldn’t really find any around here (Ottawa), but ordered a couple of packages of Tombow Fudenosuke brush pens and started using them for my drills when I got them a couple of weeks ago. I wish I had gotten them at the start. They’ve made a real difference. You can also start with a soft-leaded pencil and regular paper, if you either can’t get or can’t afford any of the other stuff.
For paper, find something smooth – rough paper is hard on the pens and it’s also hard (for me, anyway) to get the smooth brush strokes.
For both pens and paper, definitely don’t go fancy until you get some of the basics down and decide if it’s something you even want to go any further with.