Your quickest path to major calligraphy improvement? Consistent practice! Even if you’re super busy, you will be able to “sneak in” at least one of these calligraphy practice techniques on a regular basis.
If learning calligraphy is one of your main goals for this year, first of all — awesome! Secondly, I’ll tell you right now that the secret is consistent practice. Just like last year, you’re going to be busy this year, and calligraphy practice may fall to the wayside. Follow these sneaky tips, though, and you’ll be able keep on writing!
1. Make Extraordinary Envelopes for Ordinary Situations
Paying bills isn’t fun for anyone, yet you probably find yourself writing at least the occasional check to pay for something. You can make that experience pleasant by seizing the opportunity to practice your calligraphy!
You don’t have to spend a ton of time on the envelope; just work with whatever time frame you have. If you’re worried about the envelope not being delivered, write slowly and deliberately to ensure the calligraphy is legible, and make the zip code super clear. (You can find tips for making deliverable mail art in this blog post.)
Not only will you get in some good practice using this method, but you’ll also make someone’s day. We lived in an apartment for years, and, unbeknownst to me, our landlord had a bulletin board dedicated exclusively to my mail art. I think he loved the envelopes more than the check, so he was devastated when we moved out!
2. Write a Word a Day
Try writing a word a day! This will help you to to maintain consistent, digestible doses of calligraphy practice, even on the busiest of days.
I suggest writing a general adjective for every day that you have. So, if Monday can be summed up as “joyful”, write that word down! It’s fine to repeat words … every bit of practice counts. Of course, you don’t have to write adjectives. Other word a day ideas include:
One word per day in a foreign language you’d like to learn
Whether you’re sitting in a meeting, taking class notes, or making a grocery list, it’s not practical to set up your dip pen calligraphy supplies. Instead, practice calligraphy with a regular pen by making faux calligraphy!
Faux calligraphy practice is beneficial because it helps you to commit letterforms to memory. You’ll also get a good handle on the thick downstrokes, thin upstrokes/horizontal strokes concept.
4. Incorporate Calligraphy into Your Next Gathering
Despite how hectic life can get, many people organize yummy get-togethers throughout the year. For your next gathering, make place cards to label different foods! That way, you can practice your calligraphy and help friends and relatives to know what they’re eating.
If you want to get more formal, you can also create place cards for attendees. If you’re curious about how to make place cards (and some place card shortcuts), check out this tutorial!
5. Practice With a Brush Pen or a Marker
This tip will come in especially handy if you have kids with a propensity for spilling open containers of ink when you’re not looking! For calligraphy practice on the cheap, try using markers to create “Crayola” calligraphy. If you have little ones in the house, make sure the markers are washable in case the kids get a hold of them! (I learned this the hard way when my toddler nieces came to visit.)
If you’d like to achieve more dramatic stroke contrast, you can use a brush pen! My favorite brands are Tombow and Pigma. The nice thing about practicing with markers or brush pens is you get to really hone in on the pressure exertion concept. Just like with a dip pen, when you exert pressure to a brush pen/marker, you are rewarded with a thick downstroke. Using minimal pressure results in a thin upstroke or horizontal stroke.
No matter which of these “sneaky” calligraphy practice techniques you choose to use, I hope that they help you to incorporate calligraphy into your daily life more often! Remember, the best way to get better at anything is through consistency. So, next time you’re tired from a day at work, tell yourself to just write one word. That mindset will help you to succeed more than anything else!