Paper & Ink Arts Instagram Takeover, Day 2: The importance of guidelines

Italic Hand is probably what most people think of when they hear the word “calligraphy.” I think it’s one of the scripts that look easy but is actually quite challenging to do well.

When I first started to learn Italic Hand, I found it very challenging because not only do you have to keep in mind the angle of the pen, but also the letter slant. For those who are beginners to Italic Hand, I strongly recommend using guidelines as you practice. You can use an online guideline generator, draw your own guidelines, or a practice pad that already has lines drawn in.

A good exercise for beginner practice is to draw your own guidelines by creating a nib ladder. When learning a broad edge script such as Italic, it’s a good idea to start with a larger nib like 3mm to 2mm, so it is easier to see where you may need improvement. A recommend proportion for Italic is 4:5:4, meaning 4 nib-widths for the ascender, 5 for the x-height, and 4 for the descender. Even if you don’t have a metric ruler, you can use your nib size and its ladder as a guide. Do use a protractor to measure out the letter slant and draw them in, especially if you’re used to writing pointed pen scripts that are heavily slanted, such as Copperplate or Spencerian. This prep work of drawing guidelines may feel tedious at first, but will prove to be invaluable for a beginner to really get a feel of the proportions of the script, develop muscle memory, gain confidence in finding your own rhythm, and to get the right feel for the pen angle and letter slant.

Paper & Ink Arts Instagram Takeover, Day 1: Introduction

Hi everyone! I was asked by Paper & Ink Arts to do a fun Instagram takeover on the topic of Italic Hand. This and following posts mirror what I shared on their social media.

Hi calligraphy and letter-loving friends – my name is Linda Yoshida, and I am honored to be asked by Paper & Ink Arts for this week’s Instagram takeover. My focus this week will be on the beautiful Italic Hand!

A little about me – I’m from Los Angeles, and work full-time as a graphic designer. I have been doing calligraphy for fun since I was 12, but really started my formal training 2011 when I came across the website of my local calligraphy guild, Society for Calligraphy, and found my first calligraphy teacher, Yukimi Annand. I became a member of the guild in 2013, and since then I have been fortunate enough to not only learn from Yukimi, but also from some of the best calligraphers in the world. I see myself as a “perpetual student” and always strive for progress.

Like many of you, I started my calligraphy journey with pointed pen. But I soon became interested in broad edge calligraphy scripts such as Roman Capitals, Foundational Hand, Blackletter, Uncial, and Italic Hand. When I first started to learn Italic Hand, I found it very challenging. I had such a tough time that I stopped working on it for years. Last summer, after attending Sheila Waters’ and Julian Waters’ masterclass, I got motivated to study Italic again. I took an Italic class with Carrie Imai a few weeks after I got back, and this time it felt less daunting. Maybe having done other scripts during my break helped me understand better. I still very much consider myself a student, but I am happy to share my love of Italic Hand with you this week. Thanks for following along as I share a few basics of one of my favorite scripts!

Chalkboard Lettering Demo

The chalkboard style flyer I created for the demo

After attending the fantastic Chalkboard lettering class with Cora Pearl at Letters California Style in February, I was asked by Society for Calligraphy‘s Membership Chair, David Mark, to do a free demo for new members of the guild. Cora very generously and graciously let me share some of her teaching material with the new members!

One of the new members, Mila, was very kind to provide our classroom space. We expected maybe 10 people in the class, but ended up with a total of 14! I was super nervous as I’ve never done a demo/teaching session before, and really wanted everyone to have a great experience. Looking at how hard everyone was working and how fast a few hours flew by, I think it was pretty successful. Thanks David, and Society for Calligraphy for the opportunity, and huge thanks again to Cora for the guidance!

What a great group!

Letters California Style 2018 – Chalkboard Lettering with Cora Pearl

Ready for Chalkboard Lettering with Cora Pearl!

Before I started attending Letters California Style, February used to be one of those months that were just there. The month quickly passes and we’re ready for Spring. But now that I’m part of the Society for Calligraphy, the annual mini-conference over President’s Day weekend is something I always look forward to every year.

This year, I was lucky to get into Cora Pearl‘s class, The Art of Chalkboard Lettering. Cora is a professional calligrapher, artist, and teacher in Portland, Oregon, and I have long admired her work, especially her lettering! I’ve always wanted to learn how to do chalkboard lettering. When done right, it is such a beautiful way of layering information that totally speaks to the graphic designer side of me.

Cora sharing a demo in class.

On the first day, Cora showed us a few of her chalkboard lettering styles. We used Micron markers on layout bond to become familiar with the letters’ structures and shapes. Cora spent time with each of us and gave excellent critique and instructions.

Learning my first letters from Cora!

On day two, we all had a WOW! moment as we switched to white charcoal pencil on black paper. It looked SO beautiful and I just love the vintage/retro styles of these letters!

My first chalkboard practice sheet

Cora is an incredibly organized teacher who is also positive and encouraging. If I ever become a calligraphy teacher, I want to be just like her. :) I learned some great techniques and styles from her, which I will definitely put to use! I hope SfC will invite her back to teach again very soon!

The Most Clever Woman

I tend to be most productive when there is an event or goal on the horizon. This piece, along with about 50 works by members (ranging from students to masters) of the Society for Calligraphy, is currently on display at the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana. “East Meets West: an Expression of Culture” runs from today to Sunday, February 4th, and compliments the current exhibit on the Empress Dowager Cixi at Bowers.

This piece was inspired by one of the empress dowager’s many paintings and cites one of her quotes, which I feel really sums up her influence on China and also the world. She was a formidable and controversial figure. I learned so much from reading “Empress Dowager Cixi: The Concubine Who Launched Modern China,” by author Jung Chang. Thanks to everyone, especially Jenny Allen who worked so hard to make this exhibit happen!

Watercolor, gouache, and walnut ink on 90 lb Arches hot press, 12″x 16″.

Sweet Violet

Finally got some time to finish up and trim my violet piece, which will be available as part of the Art Mosaic auction at Letters California Style 2018 (Feb. 16-19) in less than three weeks! The proceeds will go to Society for Calligraphy. I had so much fun working on this piece and I hope it will go to a good home.

This was a really fun project – the theme of the Art Mosaic auction this year is “Flora, Fauna, and Letters,” and while I was doing research, I came across the fact that February’s birth flower is the violet. I figured it would be perfect for Letters California Style which will be in mid-February.

Materials used: Watercolor, gouache, and walnut ink on 140 lb Arches hot press, using sz 0 brush, pointed pen and .75mm broadedge nib. Size: 8″x 8″.

Letters California Style 2017 – The Art of Certificates and Scrolls with Robbie Saslow

Over Presidents’ Day weekend, I had the best time at Letters California Style, the member’s conference that takes place every year on that weekend, organized by Society for Calligraphy in Southern California. This year I was in Robbie Saslow‘s class, “Fabulous and Functional: The Art of Certificates and Scrolls,” along with nine other calligraphers from California, Texas, Nevada, and Washington State. We all enjoyed learning from Robbie who shared wonderful stories, knowledge, and great tips! He was such a fantastic instructor.

Robbie doing a class demo.

Our first class assignment was to create a certificate, picking one out of three choices with different criteria and styles. Most in the class opted for a certificate for the “Golden Poppy Society of Southern California” (a fictitious organization). We sketched drafts and worked on our designs with Robbie’s guidance for the first two days:

Snap shots from class: Robbie doing a demo and shared his beautiful work for the Los Angeles County; beautiful certificates done by Schin Loong, Diane Reiter, Kathy Barker, and Cindy Haller.

I ended up choosing a baby name certificate, which had the requirement of: baby name should be prominent, with a style that is casual, playful but clean, no pink, and must have three cats. I felt it was the most comfortable for me to dive into!

Rough draft of my certificate.

Needless to say, I had a lot of fun with this one, using pointed pen styles, sketching cats, lettering with colored pencils and using green with FineTec gold!

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Pick Your Own Battles

I know I am not alone when I say that recent news have left me feeling sad and hopeless. But we must keep trying, because we must have hope, for there are so many things to fight for. We obviously cannot fight for all, so we must pick and choose our own battles.

I choose to fight for our wilderness, our national parks, and our environment.

After hearing about the rogue national park rangers in the news, I got inspired to follow them as well as alt-NASA on Twitter. I have always been a liberal, and have always voted. But this time, voting was not enough. Following the rogue scientists’ lead, I decided to write all 42 members of the House Committee on Natural Resources, urging them to protect our wilderness, protect our public lands and national parks.

25 Republicans and 17 Democrats. From coast to coast, all going to hear from me, and getting a John Muir quote. This is how a calligrapher resists.