Learning Index >> Calligraphy: an education in letter form

Study >> Learning activity three
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It is beyond the scope of this module to offer a detailed practical education in calligraphy but many calligraphy books will give you helpful early lessons in handling a pen. I suggest using a simple broad edged nib to work out an alphabet of related forms. Notice the effect of a straight or slanted pen angle. Try to keep the tonal balance of all the letters so no one letter stands out as darker or lighter than the rest. Try to keep to the idea of a circular shape underlying the letter. Once you have done this you can try varying the underlying shape and making all the other letters follow suit.

Group discussion

Ideas about consistencies or unities of form and methods in writing processes underlie a traditional practice of calligraphy. To what extent do similar ideas appear in other arts: music, textiles, architecture and interior design would provide comparisons. To what extent do such ideas also underlie science and why?

Private study

Further reading and research into the aesthetics of other calligraphic traditions can be very revealing of one's own stance. Arabic calligraphy provides a striking comparison, especially since it also involves the use of a broad edged pen and is built upon ideas of related proportion between letters. Chinese and Japanese aesthetics are also interesting and the impact of contemporary art on these fields is thought provoking (See Wilcox, Spring Lines, Ditchling 2001).



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