Learning Index >> Calligraphy: an education in letter form

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The goal in writing a bookhand is to absorb ones models so thoroughly that ultimately they are transformed into ones own personal rendition. In her notebooks in the CSC the calligrapher Irene Wellington copied down the following quotations on this theme.

Personal quality is essential to perfect workmanship but that is the natural and gradual -sometimes scarcely visible - departure from a model, that comes of practise and time. E. Johnston, Writing and Illuminating and Lettering, Hogg, London1906.

Developing or rather re-developing, an art involves the tracing in ones experience of a process resembling its past development. W.R. Lethaby (from the preface to the first edition of E. Johnston, Writing and Illuminating and Lettering, Hogg, London1906>

The freedoms of the spirit are attained, not by the violence of the will but by an infinite patience of the imagination (unattributed).

And then in her own words she adds...see good forms in yr. head...good mental image. it is not possible to do this 'merely' or 'just' or 'only' (?) by looking (though constantly looking at good things and soaking oneself in them is invaluable), it is neccessary to train the hand by and eye by practise before the forms can be said to be known or truly known. To have a mental image is not only or just a photographic picture of it when you shut your eyes (or even when you think of it with your eyes open) an inner vision is needed which is amplified by the minds knowledge of the origins and characteristic variations of the letters -the ESSENTIAL letter forms, not one form that has been impressed on it (the mind) by slavish copying - copying however diligent this may have been. It is in this inner vision that sense of grace creeps in - not by the skill of the hand alone. nor do you expect or hope that these will keep pace with one another. You may feel you know what you want to do and then the hand is not adequate to carry it out, or you may gain technical ability and the other side may lag behind. Here lies the interest and the constant development. REMEMBER you can't get all the qualities at the same time. IW

The spirit is more important than the perfection IW

Can't hold quality without effort IW

Proper way of breathing in 'Zen and the Art of Archery', how can this be transposed?'IW

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