As you geared up to be a calligraphy beginner, you knew that learning would be tough. After all, the supplies look a bit intimidating and all this is new to you! Still, no one told you that your hand and back would ache, or that feelings of burnout would tug at you after long practice sessions. In this post, we’ll examine some of the more ugly sides of learning calligraphy and how you can overcome them! Here are the five feelings that most beginner calligraphers have at one time or another:
Websites like Pinterest and Instagram are fantastic resources for inspiration. They showcase photos of gorgeous calligraphy. Those photos are mesmerizing and … well, intimidating. The sour fact of social media is this: no matter what, you’ll always see something there that makes you feel inferior. Just when you think you’ve made something cool, you’ll stumble upon a photo of a masterfully-executed piece that seems to put your work to shame.
Take comfort in knowing that everyone feels that way. It’s so easy to be critical of our own work and not see any flaws in others’. Instead of being discouraged, try to examine what you like about what you see. Did the calligrapher use some creative flair that you can emulate? Does the color scheme help? Also, consider the staging of the photo. Most calligraphers who post on social media (myself included) stage the photo, then edit it in Lightroom and Photoshop to be even more eye-catching. Add a few leaves and lace as props, and calligraphy will look incredibly beautiful — but the photo doesn’t set a realistic standard.
Feelings of inferiority are hard to squelch as a calligraphy beginner, but remember to be realistic. Everyone starts somewhere (even that incredibly talented calligrapher that you follow on Instagram), and you’re at the beginning of your own path!
When I started learning calligraphy, I was in for a hand-eye coordination reality check. No matter how coordinated you are, there’s a dip pen adjustment period. At first, you’ll notice that your hand doesn’t seem to do exactly what your brain wants it to do.
The only cure for this frustration is more practice. The more comfortable you become with using a dip pen, the better you’ll be able to write with it. As you practice, you’ll learn the nib’s nuances, like having to maintain equal pressure on both tines. You’ll also develop tweaks that you need to make to your grip and to the paper angle to achieve the look that you’re going for.
3. Body Aches
If you’re a relaxed person with exceptionally good posture, then you won’t experience this calligraphy beginner issue. However, when I’m writing, I hunch my back, I clutch my hand, and I tense up my body in general. I think that most of us do that when we’re concentrating!
The best way to address aches is prevention. Constantly check yourself as you write: are you sitting up straight? Do you have a relaxed grip on the pen? Are you breathing regularly? If the answer to any of these questions is no, then fix the issue. Maintaining good posture and keeping a light grip on your pen will help you to write for many pain-free hours.
Unfortunately, most of us realize we had bad posture or a clutched pen after our writing session, when pain sets in. If that’s the case, let the achiness subside before you go back to writing. For posture issues, yoga or a massage is never a bad thing. For clutching, try opening and closing your hands several times throughout the day to flex your muscles.
A lot of us get really excited when we start learning something new, and we want to learn it right now. When you don’t get the results that you anticipated, it’s easy to give up.
Like anything else, learning calligraphy takes some patience and moderation. It’s better to do a little bit every day than make yourself write in five hour marathons for a few consecutive days. Break up your calligraphy creation into reasonable chunks of time that fit into your schedule, and try to practice at least three times a week. Remember, too, that you should vary your practice. You can spend one session filling out a calligraphy worksheet, the next session doing drills, and the next working on a project. Shake things up, and calligraphy won’t “get old”!
You didn’t think all calligraphy beginner feelings were bad, did you? 🙂 The whole reason we create calligraphy is to reach creative satisfaction. It is amazing to watch your own progress and feel proud of yourself!
If you make something you love, you should allow yourself to feel an enormous sense of accomplishment! That feeling will propel you forward to make even more awesome things, which leads to constant satisfaction. Allow humility to step aside, and compliment yourself on your good work! Remember: life is about being happy, and you’re learning calligraphy to help enhance your life through a creative outlet.
If you’re a calligraphy beginner, I hope that this post helped you to know that you’re not alone! Learning any new skill can be a bit of a ride, and you’ll certainly experience ups and downs. Just keep going, and I promise you will improve! The whole goal is to enjoy what you’re doing and make something you like — don’t lose track of that goal, and you’ll work wonders with your dip pen.
Enjoy the rest of your day, and thank you for reading TPK!