In 1891, John Muir published an article about a valley situated on the south fork of King’s River that’s grander than Yosemite. One of the deepest river gorges in North America, Kings Canyon is more than a mile deep. Some of the features in the area include 14,000-ft peaks, high mountain meadows, swift-flowing rivers, and some of the largest giant sequoia trees.
I had the best time visiting King’s Canyon National Park in October 2019. It was a glorious four days spent in the middle of the mountains and the woods, and what a treat it was to be able to walk amongst giant sequoia trees!
Of course, I penned and took a few of my favorite Muir quotes with me into King’s Canyon, and had so much fun hiking and taking photos of these quotes. Being in nature was exactly what I needed and I hope to be back again in a few years. There is so much more to explore!
Here is my concertina book for the participants exhibit at Letters California Style. The project got its start in a fantastic workshop with Joke Boudens last November, and I finished it in time for the exhibit. I learned so much from Joke’s class and the project, and it was so enjoyable because I love California and the writings of John Muir. All the flora and fauna depicted are native to California, and the sign is iconic to folks who hike in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
I have to say I was pretty proud of myself for actually finishing a piece and painting the art elements, too! This piece ended up being tied as one of the winners of the first prize at the Letters California Style 2019 Participants Exhibit. Thanks to everyone who voted for me!
I’m not much of a “being in the spotlight” type of person, but I sure talked a lot about how much I love calligraphy and attending conferences in this Q&A! Thanks to Joy for reaching put and Vichana for the ASOH photos. I look forward to seeing all my calligra-friends and teachers at Rendez-vous 2019!
I love this quote by acclaimed American dancer Martha Graham (1894-1991). It not only applies to performance and dance, but to me, it also applies to calligraphy. Why do we keep practicing over and over again? It’s the desire to progress and invite perfection. We may never reach perfection, but to quote Sheila Waters, “the journey is more interesting than getting there.”
For this piece, before putting ink on paper, I took a close look at the quote to see how it will fit, did a quick sketch on scrap paper, then lightly penciled in my guidelines (and that includes slant lines!) on the Bugra paper. I then inked this piece with a 1.5mm Brause nib, bleedproof white, and walnut ink for the attribution. After making sure the ink is dry, I lightly dabbed the penciled guidelines with a kneaded eraser to remove them. If you are trying a paper for the first time, it’s important to test your chosen ink on it, as well as testing to see how the paper takes pencil lines and the pressure of erasing. Some delicate papers may require a gentle touch. Putting it all together takes time, but each time we practice, each time we create a piece, we learn and progress a little bit more.
I hope you’ve all enjoyed following along this week as I shared a few things on the beautiful Italic hand. Thanks to Paper & Ink Arts for inviting me for this month’s Instagram takeover! You can see more of my calligraphy posts at @LindaYoshida – thanks for being on this journey with me!
One thing I don’t see too often on Instagram is blocks of text. A lot of beginners focus on copying single letters in an exemplar, rather than putting the letters together. Quoting Julian Waters: “When writing a block of text you have to deal with lettering/writing en masse, the effective distribution of space between strokes, words and lines of writing, developing writing texture.”
I really enjoy writing a block of text. You come across letter combinations that make you think, “how can I make these work together?” It’s a great exercise in creative problem-solving. Give yourself a quiet afternoon with a piece of long text – whether it’s from your favorite book or a passage from a calligraphy book, I know you will find it immensely enjoyable. You can even go one step further and challenge yourself by writing in another language, that way you won’t be reading the text but really looking at the letters and words and how they come together.
These are a few of my favorite books for studying Italic Hand. Of course, a must-have is “Foundations of Calligraphy” by Sheila Waters; “Contemporary Calligraphy” by Gillian Hazeldine has a wonderful chapter on Italic that shows basic forms and many modern variations; “More than fine writing: Irene Wellington, calligrapher (1904-84),” by Heather Child isn’t an instructional book, but showcases the brilliant work of Irene Wellington who was one of Edward Johnston’s students; “Art and Craft of Hand Lettering” by Annie Cicale has a great section on Italic with detailed instructions; “Masters of the Italic Letter: Twenty-Two Exemplars from the Sixteenth Century” by Kathryn A. Atkins isn’t an instructional book, but it is a must for those who love to study historic letterforms; and last but not least, the Speedball Textbook, which has a beautiful Italic exemplar by Julian Waters.
Most of these books are available at Paper & Ink Arts; a few are out of print, so you’ll have to check your favorite online resources for used books. In any calligraphy script, it’s so important to study from good exemplars so you will start off right rather than trying to correct bad letterforms later.
Do you have a favorite paper for practicing broad edge? I like using Borden & Riley Cotton Comp. It’s semi-translucent, so you can lay a printed guideline sheet underneath. I also like using watercolor paper for when I use watercolor or gouache as ink. For finished pieces, my go-to paper is Arches Hot Press.
It’s a good idea to try different types of paper as you get more comfortable with your letter forms. I recently tried a few fine art papers such as Bugra (used above) and Arches Text Wove, and although they are a little more challenging, they have wonderful textures, which can make a good piece into a great piece.
What is your preferred nib when writing broad edge scripts? When I practice Italic, my favorite nibs are Brause C and Tape – Brause is a little more stiff. Both have top reservoirs, and they are easy to clean and maintain. I use a soft-bristle toothbrush and water to clean my nibs. Make sure you keep the reservoir in a safe place when you are cleaning your nib, so it doesn’t get flushed down the drain. For practice inks, I like using no-fuss bottle inks such as Norton’s walnut ink or Higgins Eternal.
Pen holders, I find, are really up to each person’s personal preference. Some go the DIY route and make their own with dowels and some tubing, while others like the bright colors of the Manuscript holders, marbled holders by Speedball, or even holders made by talented pen artisans. As I have small hands, I prefer shorter holders, and have found the round double wooden pen holder to be my favorite.