Earlier this week, I had a lovely chat with the very amazing Calligrapher and Instructor Nina Tran on our show Let’s Get Real. We spoke all about learning and improving our script and Nina covered some really amazing points to help develop an eye to critique our work and pave a path for improvement. Our chat was so inspiring that I decided to write to you about it.
Now, let’s look at a few things that would help you critique your work 1. Mentor: When you’re starting out it may be hard to point out your own mistakes and understand where you’re going wrong. This is exactly why having the guidance of a teacher helps a great deal. Hint Hint: Did you know we offer an Improver’s class where we have one on one sessions and give you concrete feedback to help you get better at your script? She also suggests joining a community of calligraphers or starting a study group with others who are learning the same thing. She recommends 3 levels in the group: someone who knows more than you, you, and someone who knows less than you. During such a study group, it's inevitable that each person will fluctuate from one level to a higher or lower one depending on the subject at hand. In the end, there's always something to learn from each other. 2. Exemplar: Nina strongly suggests that we keep an exemplar handy while practicing and use it as a reference to create our letters. This helps us keep in check if we’re going wrong in any way. Can you believe she mentioned that her entire wall is filled with examplars of different scripts? Isn’t that amazing? There’s absolutely no shame in keeping it for your reference. 3. Things to start with: Here are a few things to start with if you're evaluating your work -
Consistency of angle: One of the first things to look for while critiquing your work is the consistency of your script’s angle. You can do this by drawing lines that are running through your words and seeing if they’re all parallel to each other.
Negative Space: You not just want to focus on the structure and form of the letter but also the negative space it’s creating.
For eg: If you’re creating an under turn, overturn, and compound curve - the negative space it creates should entail an oval and not a triangle.
Compare similar letters: If you’re writing a page full of words, then you want to compare a particular letter with other letters that come from the same group
For Example, a, o, e, and c are part of the same group and hence there must be similarities in the oval created in each of them.
And here’s a little something you want to remember...
“Learning is a backward process, you don’t know what you don’t know” -Nina Tran
You have to dive in and be okay with not knowing. Sometimes you have to keep going and if you hit a wall, you realize that you can’t surpass it because there’s something else you need to learn in order to get through that obstacle.
A simple example of that in terms of copperplate calligraphy could be, say for instance you started learning lowercase a and then you just wouldn't get it right, now you get frustrated and start digging into it, that’s when you come to know that an a is made up of an entrance stroke, oval and under turn and you never learned that.
So now you go back and learn the basic strokes before hopping on to lowercase!
Of course, this is a simple example but I hope you get what I’m saying?
One last thing, we’re all on our journey of learning and growing, if we compare ourselves to others it would in turn be detrimental to our own growth as an artist.
Create with an open heart and be willing to learn on the way!