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.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Monday, December 14, 2009
Friday, December 11, 2009
Monday, December 7, 2009
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
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.
Thursday, December 3, 2009
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.
Monday, November 30, 2009
Q has always been one of my favourite letters — R being another — because of its graceful tail, in some typefaces at least.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
I’ve long thought there was something odd about the numeral 8 painted on this apartment block (in Jurong West in western Singapore; see picture on left).
Indeed there is: the 8 has its visual weight in the wrong place because the painters obviously held the template upside-down by mistake.
In the picture on the right, you see the same numerals in the same typeface, i.e. Times New Roman italic. Note that 8 has a heavy stroke going from right down to left, not left down to right. The reason for this is simple: most calligraphically based typefaces were designed with the edged pen in mind, perhaps even drawn with one. If you write the numeral 8 with an edged pen, you’ll find that the shade falls precisely where you see it in the image on the right.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
I began collecting ‘serious’ fountain pens in 1995, starting with a brown lacquer Parker 75 with a medium Italic nib. Very soon I progressed to the Duofold range, which was immediately attractive to me because of its traditional design (harking back to the Duofolds of the early 1920s), beautiful acrylic models, and most importantly the wide range of Italic nibs — a real bonus to Italic handwriting enthusiasts.
The Duofold was never the best writer, however: inkflow was always on the dry side, and the capacity of the piston convertor (bottom right in picture) was quite limited. However, to a certain extent I got round the first problem by widening the channel in the feed (top right) using a box cutter — not for the faint of heart! Still, my Duofolds never wrote as effortlessly as my Lamys and Pelikans: big-capacity German piston-fillers which lay a very wet line, perfect for rapid everyday Italic handwriting.
It was one of my early attempts at gothicized Italic. I did this a mere four years or so after picking up calligraphy by myself, and even at this distance in time, I think the writing is pretty good — in fact I’m not sure I could write as well today!
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
Monday, November 23, 2009
This specimen was written with a dip pen, on Japanese layout paper. The ‘ink’ was a gouache, and the nib a flexible, fine-pointed Goode 82 past its usefulness as a tool for Copperplate — hence ground down to a fine stub for quick handwriting.
Sunday, November 22, 2009
This was written for a dear colleague, who was very ill with cancer and has since sadly passed away. She had, in a dream, seen me writing out the Lord’s Prayer for her, in these very colours — which happen to be my favourite. She mentioned her dream to another colleague, and the latter and I decided to make it come true. The style is modified English Round Hand (Copperplate).
Saturday, November 21, 2009
Friday, November 20, 2009
While bored in meetings, I often engage in calligraphic doodling. This, however, was done in between marking a veritable mountain of examination scripts. The style is something of a hybrid between the Spencerian and Copperplate styles: it is more rounded than the very flat, pointed Spencerian, yet not as oval-round as Copperplate (18th-century English Round Hand). This was written with a cheap ballpoint pen, on rough paper.
Monday, November 16, 2009
Welcome to my calligraphy blog! I hope you will enjoy your visit and the examples of calligraphy and handwriting that I shall be posting.
First off, a few quick words about myself: I teach undergraduate and postgraduate courses in English grammar and phonetics at Singapore’s sole teacher-training institute, and have been interested in English grammar and usage since my early teens. My main blogging activity has until now been a blog on English.
My other great passion is Western calligraphy and handwriting, which I stumbled upon in December 1986. I shall be writing soon about how I came to calligraphy, but for now I’ll just say I’m a self-taught amateur who has had the good fortune of meeting and knowing some of the best calligraphers in the Western world.
The above example — the first of many I shall be posting — is a copy of a piece I’ve written for several close friends. It is in formal Italic style, and was written in 2007 with a Hughes calligraphy nib and (the incomparable) Talens gouache. I hope you like it.