THOUGHTFUL GESTURES - a safe guide to gestural writing
You may be one of the many calligraphers that wishes to unbutton the straightjacket of formal penmanship in order to loosen up and produce a more lively Italic which is still aesthetically pleasing. How could I possibly blame you? Straying away from formal Italic in favor of a more personal and dynamic script is a very contemporary and exciting thing to do, which is bound to give the calligrapher much joy and satisfaction. However, it is my firm belief that in this pursuit the scribe is not making things easier for himself, though admittedly it may look that way.
First of all, - and there’s no way around it, I’m afraid - we need to build on a very sound and trustworthy foundation, i.e. formal Italic. Therefore, the first two weeks of this online class are totally devoted to a rehearsal, reacquaintance or strengthening of this hand, going over every single letter, pointing out possible mistakes, explaining about spacing, etc.
The Italic hand is so popular among calligraphers partly because it lends itself so wonderfully to all sorts of variations. It is impossible to list them all, let alone treat them all in this class. As I want to bring my students to this thing called ‘gestural writing’, I’m mostly interested in the variations that show the influence of speed upon the writing process. What happens with the letters, the connections, the rhythm and the overall look of the script when the calligrapher speeds up? In week 3 and 4, we’ll investigate all of that without actually speeding up. We’ll search for variations in letterforms and joins, we’ll play with guidelines, size, slope and weight, we’ll explain about polyrhythm and consistency of style, but everything still in slow motion.
Once we are more familiar with the different ways we can alter the look of our Italic, we’ll bring speed into the game. We start with a series of exercises that focus on controlling the line quality while accelerating, followed by a repeat of some of the exercises of the previous weeks but now with speed and more daring. Again, plenty of time will be dedicated to analysis, explaining the secret workings of proper gestural writing.
All demos and exercises throughout the entire course are done with a broad-edged Speedball nib. The last week, however, contains some bonus videos in which I demo the gestural principles with a pointed brush and an EZA-pen.
Like with the Trajan online class, it’s my aim to offer a class that appeals to the advanced student as well as to an intermediate one. Even a beginner who’s willing to put in the time and effort, can come a long way.
Here are a few things that will be covered in the course:
- setting up (supplies, how to practice...)
- going letter by letter over a basic Italic hand
- proper spacing
- trouble shooting: most common mistakes
- a good number of lively variations on Italic without speeding up
- stretching and compressing letterforms and joins, bouncing letters
- exercises on line quality
- gestural variations on letters and words
- searching for harmony and contrast
- changes in rhythm, slope, weight, size etc...
- inventing new scripts
- gestural capitals
New classes (instructional videos and handouts) are posted each Monday, but you do NOT need to be online at that time. All the videos can be watched at whatever time is convenient for you and as many times as you like. The videos will remain up for an additional six months after the last class in case make-up time is needed for viewing! There is homework suggested for this class, but it is not mandatory. The classroom forum provides a wonderful place to share your designs with the other students and to learn from my critique on each other's work.
All videos are spoken in English, but there are also English subtitles available.