Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The broad and generous strokes of the Italic calligraphic hand

Many calligraphic newcomers ask me whether to start with Italic or Copperplate. Both of my classes are geared towards beginners, so both are appropriate. But I learned Italic first, which lead into Copperplate and I believe it made the transition easier for me. I can tell you that knowing both, has enhanced the other.

Many of my students come to me with a heavy preference for copperplate over italic, because it is so expressive and feminine with its lovely loops, cusps, and tails. I get that. But I can tell you I get equal pleasure using the broad edge pen, because of the wide, meaty, and generous amount of ink I'm able to lay down on the thirsty paper. If you're a painter, definitely start with the broad edge, because you'll soon be working wet into wet like watercolorists do as they grace the page with a brush.

Here's an interesting historical tidbit I read in an article entitled "Write On" for Family Tree Magazine by David A. Fryxell in preparation for National Handwriting day last month:

"Humanists of the Italian Renaissance rebelled against the harsh forms of Gothic Script, reverting to a version of Carolingian writing. Some credit Niccolo Niccoli, a 15th-century Italian, with giving this script its distinctively modern slant. Dubbed "italic," after Italy, this simple style of writing was the precursor to cursive, although not all letters were linked."

So! I do recommend Italic first, because from a historical point of view, it makes complete sense to gear you up for the lovely linking Copperplate thrives upon. And there is a tiny thrill I get when switching from Italic to Copperplate, knowing I'm repeating an important part of history, OUR history, in doing so.

My next Italic class begins next week on Thursday, February 20th, 2014 from 6-9PM at Spruill Center for the Arts. It is a 5-week course and full of goodies, the least of which is the social experience of making beautiful calming marks on paper, with a new group of like-minded people who could likely be new friends for life, including myself. :D

Love to all,



Beginner/intermediate•5 sessions• 6-9PM• Feb 20, 27 Mar 6, 13, 20•Min.5/Max.10•Spruill Center for the Arts

The Italic calligraphic hand is one of the most widely used and versatile alphabets around. It's generously wide strokes, produced with a broad edge nib, can easily be dressed up or down. Italic is the perfect hand to learn for the beginning calligrapher yet versatile enough to experiment with for the advanced. During the five-week course, students will be given handouts and guide sheets, learning the upper and lower case characters. We will also address spacing and layout for addressing envelopes. This class is appropriate for Beginner to Intermediate students.


3x10E8 said...

Hello Anne, I really enjoyed your colorful calligraphy on this page (I can hardly imagine how you switched colors and nibs!). I would like to post this image to my blog!

kate adderley said...

Hi Anne, just came across your site, love the colour calligraphy, would you be able to tell me what colours you have used, they are so beautiful together, and is it ink or watercolour. thanks Kate

Anne Elser said...

Hi, Kate! I used a gouache and gum arabic mixture with lots of distilled water to make the ink transparent. Here's a recipe!