The Art of Writing i.e. Calligraphy

For as long as I can remember, I’ve loved to write. My father always told the story of me writing my name of everything, including furniture, when I first learned how to write my name! 

I recall one day (age 5) being given big pink eraser and rubbing back and forth on the freshly painted white windowsill, until  B  o   N  n  i   E  was just a mere engraving in the woodwork and the pencil marks were gone.

If you look at the furniture that’s in my house right now, handed down to me by my parents, you’d find my name on, under, in all of them! What was that all about? Claiming my turf?

My grandmother saved so many letters I wrote to her when we moved from Connecticut to California. I made flourishes out of my initials and would change the style throughout just one letter to her!

Then when I was in high school, my uncle gave me a Speedball Lettering Book.

 It came with a calligraphy pen and one nib and a bottle of rich black India ink. I think I used the ink up in one afternoon. My world changed after that and calligraphy became one of the first serious art forms that I persisted at. I don’t think I was very good at it but I remember loving how the ink flowed out of the stiff metal nib and made the most bold marks on the bright white paper. (By then I had curtailed my lettering on furniture).

Fast forward to today, the year 2020. I’m still doing calligraphy on envelopes, cards, taking notes, journaling and writing letters. I love the way the letters just stand at attention coming out of the pen. I have some favorite pens that are dozens of years old. They are like old friends, some from as far away as England where I studied calligraphy with Peter Halliday in the Lake District. I have studied with dozens of well known calligraphers from around the world. 

Recently, I made this book to learn a prayer called, ‘The Angelus’. I find that if I am trying to memorize something, writing it over and over again helps. But, why just write it when it can have some color and flourishes!! The book is an accordion book with various inks and calligraphic lettering styles. 

This paper necklace consists of hundreds of punched shapes. The punched shapes are from a calligraphic page of stream of consciousness in black and red inks.

            This book holds the flights of fancy of butterflies. It consists of butterfly cutouts in an accordion construction. Calligraphy runs throughout the pages.

Scores of books about calligraphy and the art of lettering fill my bookshelves. Every now and then I sit and loo through them. The art of lettering speaks to so much of what I do in the studio that has nothing to do with lettering at all. Negative space, repetition, form, shape, balance, color—all those attributes of lettering, and more, relate to other mediums as well. I’ve always thought one art form leads into or speaks to the next, and for me, lettering speaks to everything!









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