I lose myself in writing. Pen and paper is my happy place. Many of you will too – there is often a moment, halfway through a calligraphy workshop, where I’ll look around and see a calm has settled on the class.
Calligraphy kind of needs concentration and the ability to drift off in equal measure. A little focus is essential in those first hours of learning. But once you understand how your pen feels as it flexes in your hand and glides across the paper to make letters, you can relax a little and let instinct take over.
Your lettering will love you for it.
I don’t know if this is mindfulness – it almost seems contradictory to the notion of self-awareness, to lose oneself in lettering. But to allow your thoughts to drift as you write is a good – a wonderful – thing.
Consider: at first students try super hard to ‘master’ the calligraphy pen. It’s tricky at first to know just where to apply pressure, to add ink, to turn the corner in a letter. But in my workshops I encourage conversation. I comment on students’ work to build confidence. I ask questions; students ask me questions about my background and life, and conversations flow… and while we talk, we relax… that initial focus on every detail of a letter becomes more instinctive, more natural.
I really find it helps to think of other things when I practise calligraphy. My escape is a musical backdrop – soothing or thought-provoking as fits my mood.
A relaxed environment helps too – a glass of wine, an empty desk, a cosy jumper – because soft sleeves just glide across a tabletop! – and will help you to focus on our letter shapes or think of other things as you write in your little oasis of calligraphic calm.
Calligraphy has its very own kind of focus – and it’s a very natural, peaceful one. During my workshops students will often misspell words, even their own names. It’s a good thing! Following the movement and flow of a nib is kind of hypnotic: watching it flex and glide from one letter to another is distracting in the most wonderful way! And for me, focusing on that beautiful flow instead of the order of letters an achievement in itself.
The art of modern calligraphy isn’t all about precision – it’s about beauty, and relaxation, and the pure enjoyment of lettering.
Join me for a calligraphy workshop in Manchester: online booking & info – modern calligraphy workshops