Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Message, 2009

This was the message inside my Christmas card this year.  Written with a Kuretake Calligraphy marker, and reduced.  The ascender of the final d in ahead, as originally written, sloped too far to the right.  This was rectified in Photoshop — first, I selected that portion of the letter, then used Transform/Skew to bring it in line with the slope of the rest of the message.  Finally, I cleaned up the d by cloning and erasing parts of the letter.

Ballpoint Scribble (2009)

Some ballpoint scribble on a McDonald’s receipt — I find it useful to squeeze in a bit of practice whenever I can, on whatever paper I can lay my hands on!

Monday, December 14, 2009

The Universal Penman, 1741

One of my favourite calligraphic styles is the 18th-century English Round Hand, known more commonly these days as ‘Copperplate’.  It is notoriously difficult to write well, but I try to stay faithful to the original by studying the splendid resource, The Universal Penman (1741), a collection of engravings by George Bickham of the works of the best penmen of his day, including his own.  This extract is from Plate 90, written by Willington Clark and engraved by Bickham.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Poster for a Talk (2007)

The beautiful poster you see above, for a talk on the use of humour in teaching, was put together by Fiona Jeremiah, a teacher with a gift for design.  My contribution (below) was the title and subtitle, which I wrote in black, using a calligraphy marker.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Fund-Raiser Poster (2006)

On the left is a poster-sized mocktail menu for a fund-raising event organized by a student group (of which I was staff adviser).  As my students knew I practised calligraphy, they asked if I would supply the handwriting for the menu — I was, of course, delighted to, and so wrote out all the menu items using a black calligraphy marker.  On the right is one such sheet of writing, which the group leader, Adrian Tan, scanned, cropped and rearranged to form the poster on the left. 

Who says students don’t give their tutors homework? :-)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wedding Calligraphy (2008)

I’m the laziest calligrapher when it comes to projects and commissions, so most of the work you see here was done a long time ago. 

This batch of wedding invitations and envelopes, however, was done fairly recently, in April 2008.  I almost invariably turn down such jobs because they are incredibly taxing on the mind and especially the eyes, and demand far more time than I can usually afford — but the person who commissioned these was very nice and extremely persuasive, so it was a pleasure to be able to do this for her and her husband-to-be.  It also helped that this was a very small job, just 22 or so sets of envelopes and invitations.

My greatest fear came true, however — the beautiful gold envelopes had their colour printed on them, not dyed in.  This meant I couldn’t write with my usual gouache and had to look for an alternative.  Fortunately I tried Daler Rowney Acrylic ink, and it worked beautifully for the most part, although the nature of the ink meant that I had to be careful to flush and wipe the pen every so often, and could not achieve the fine hairlines that good gouches like Talens produce so easily.

Two Italic Calligraphy Alphabets (2008)

Here are two Chancery Italic alphabets I used for the two calligraphy workshops I taught on 28 August 2008 and on the same date in 2009.  The first alphabet shows the order of strokes for each letter, the dot marking where the pen begins writing.  In hindsight the alphabets are far from perfect, but they are, in my view at least, clear enough for the beginning calligrapher.  I hope to revise them sometime and improve on the letterforms, and include some brief side notes on how to hold the pen.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Certificate (2007)

Here’s a certificate I wrote for an associate professor who was kind enough to give a talk to students on the use of humour in teaching.  The style is modified English Round Hand, popularly known as ‘Copperplate’.  I wrote this using a vintage (pre-WWII) Hunt 56 steel nib, and Talens gouache (silver and deep gold). 

Writing ‘Copperplate’ is a tactile experience — one has to know where to press the nib in order to get thick strokes and where to begin gradually easing off; and one needs to be gentle yet controlled on light, unpressed upstrokes.  With lots of practice this comes naturally — and it begins to feel like the rhythm of breathing.