Sunday, December 16, 2007

Blank Page Syndrome--For a Calligraphist

Writing as both a writer and a calligraphist, I've got to say that a writer ain't got nothing on a calligraphist when it comes to blank page syndrome. I just finished lettering a two-page piece for a friend. I tackled the first page on Saturday and the second page just now. Here's the thought process of a calligraphist when starting a new work:

Ok, I've got the rough draft done and propped before me, the fresh page all neatly ruled and I'm ready to go. I'll be using a number 1 pen followed immediately by a number 2 pen, so I may as well get them both filled with ink. There. I'm ready.

The blank page stares at me, pristine. As a writer, I can use the backspace key or even 20 years ago, I could have used correction tape to erase any mistake. I have no such luxury here. Any false stroke will doom me to starting over.

The first marks on the page are ellipsis marks, because I'm continuing the quote from a previous page. Those are easy, but I still manage to mess up one due to not enough ink. However, "not enough ink" can be touched up, so I continue. I write the first capital L and all goes well.

For the second line, I switch to a number 0 pen--the largest that I have--for the word Diamond. I dip for every letter with a size 0 pen. All goes brilliantly. Then, in a moment of inattention, I make the downstroke of the last d before making the curve stroke--and I didn't leave myself enough room. I try to finish the letter, but I already know that I have to start over.

I set it aside, close the ink, clean my pens, take out a fresh piece of paper, rule it, open the ink, ink my pens and try again. . . .

The finished result actually turned out quite well. I was considering redoing the first page because two of the lines are a tad too close together. However, I don't have a lot of room on that page and I managed to blend a clashing descender and ascender together rather artfully. (Descenders/ascenders are the part of the text that sticks up or down, like the top of a d or the bottom of a g.) So I think I'll just go with it.

My friend does not follow this blog (as far as I know) so I'll post it when I finished painting it.

4 comments:

  1. You're so dang artistic =). We had my mom's friend do calligraphy for our wedding invites and place cards, and it was so elegant. I could never do it, though--I shake too much. That whole "high-strung" thing, yanno. =)

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  2. Thank you! It's just one of those things that takes practice. I actually ended up doing the first page over after all, and I was thrilled with the results.

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  3. I could never do anything that requires me to get it right the first time. Just knowing I had to get it right or start over would make me so nervous I'd get it wrong for sure.

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  4. I've come to expect at least four or five drafts. The first three are just figuring out the spacing, so I just use a cheap marker pen and don't worry about perfection. I also play with versals (illuminated capitals).

    But once I know how I want it laid out, out come the inks, dip pens and rulers.

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