Many calligraphers, whether seasoned or just starting out, will agree that Roman Capitals is one of the most beautiful yet difficult hands to master. Its beauty is in its simplicity of form and structure, yet understanding the form and structure and applying them skillfully can take years of mindful practice.
One of the mini classes offered at Letters California Style 2014, “Hacking Roman Capitals: Defeat the divine proportion and rule the flat brush” taught by Alisara Tareekes, explores a new way of learning Roman Capitals by using a special template that she has developed.
Alisara started the class with a brief introduction of the history of Roman Capitals and also showed us a large sheet of rubbing from the Trajan’s Column (113 AD) where some of the finest examples of Roman Capitals were chiseled into its base. Alisara’s template consists of the same proportions, using die-cut straight and curved lines that make up all 26 alphabets. Each alphabet will be 6” tall. Using Alisara’s handout as a reference, we followed the template to lay down light pencil lines on a large sheet of rice paper. We then took a ¾” flat brush and followed the pencil lines to construct each letter in watercolor. Alisara recommended David Harris’ The Art of Calligraphy: A Practical Guide to the Skills and Techniques for its thorough yet concise brush-lettering instructions for each letter, and walked around giving each of us individual attention.
The class concluded on a high note, with very nice Roman Capital samples we created to take home on a rice paper scroll! With Alisara’s wonderful template, Roman Capitals now seem a little less daunting and perhaps one day, I too will become a Roman (Capitals) conqueror.
[This class recap was published in the 2014 issue of Calligraph journal, published by the Society for Calligraphy.]