Emily Dickinson in Roman Capitals

Monoline with pencil

Monoline with pencil

This was my first session’s homework from the Roman Capitals class. We started with monoline, using just pencil to get the basic shapes and structure of the capital letters, then moved to basic strokes with a chiseled/broad-edged nib. After the softness and wispiness of Copperplate, I found Roman Capitals quite challenging, especially when it required getting used to writing with a chiseled nib. The pen angle is also crucial to writing each letter, as the angle of the pen determines the thickness of the strokes and affect the look of the letters. It is quite different from the pointed pen because it has a reservoir that needs to be removed and cleaned to prolong the life of the nib.

Practicing the basic strokes

Practicing the basic strokes

Roman Capitals A to Z

Roman Capitals A to Z

Writing A to Z in Roman Capitals. This was much harder than it looks! The rules of spacing was also tough to grasp. All the letter shapes affect each other as you write, especially in Roman Capitals.

For our final project, we were to choose a poem or a phrase we like, write it on nice paper, and put the finished piece in a frame. I chose a poem by Emily Dickinson:

At first I was going to write in a square format and use a square frame, but it just didn’t look right. I ended up getting a panorama photo-size frame from Aaron Brothers and it worked out nicely! My teacher gave us all great ideas, and I was able to use some lovely pressed flowers she had saved from her garden. The whole piece really came together when framed.

By Chivalries as tiny by Emily Dickinson, 1856. Written in Roman Capitals with gouache on Arches Hot Press paper.

The Roman Capitals class was really challenging, but it was tremendously helpful to study the form and structure of the letters. I think it has already helped my own handwriting and I’m sure it will help as I learn more calligraphy styles.

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