Christmas is one week from today, and I wanted to make a special gift for my brother that wouldn’t take too much time. I settled on state calligraphy art that depicts Kansas, our home state. Today, I’ll show you how I made this piece (lest you also need to make a last-minute gift), and I’ll…
Whenever I’ve made state- or country-themed art, I’ve focused on places with recognizable outlines like California and Ecuador. But what do you do if the state calligraphy art you’re making is basically a square? In this case of my home state, Kansas, the outline isn’t immediately recognizable to the non-Kansan. But, with a few flourishes and some golden sunflowers, this Kansas-themed art is a delight to behold! In this blog post, I’ll outline how I made this piece and share a free download with you. I hope to inspire all my fellow basic-shaped state dwellers to try their hand at calligraphy state art, too.
1. Make a Draft
To make this project, I followed the steps in the Flourished Calligraphy Country or State Art Tutorial. First, I copied and pasted an outline of Kansas that I found online into an 8″ x 10″ (20.32 cm x 25.4 cm) document in Photoshop. I resized the state outline to the size that I wanted, then I printed it out.
Next, I cut a piece of drawing paper to 8″ x 10″ (20.32 cm x 25.4 cm). I used a light box to shine my outline up through the drawing paper, and I traced around the state outline with pencil.
To finish up my draft, I drew plenty of slant lines. Then, I looked up a map of Kansas and kept it in front of me as I wrote city and town names in various sizes inside the state outline. I tried my best to put the names roughly where they appear on an actual map!
I kept going until my pencil draft was nice and full.
2. Add Ink
Once you’re satisfied with your pencil draft, you’ll trace over it with a dip pen and ink. I chose to use sumi ink because it’s jet black and easy to see from far away! I paired the sumi ink with a Brause EF66 nib in an oblique pen, which is a nib that I knew would give me plenty of good stroke contrast.
Once the ink was nice and dry, I erased it with a Staedtler Mars plastic eraser. It’s important to wield the eraser carefully; otherwise, you might end up creasing the page.
Kansas is known for its golden wheat and dazzling sunflowers, so I chose to fill my sunflower petals in with Arabic Gold watercolor. I could have used a tiny paintbrush to do this, but a dip pen affords more control and made it easier for me not to cover up the petal outlines. (You can learn how to use metallic watercolor with a dip pen in this tutorial.)
3. Frame and Gift!
Once I was finished with my piece, I hopped off to Goodwill to find a frame for it. (I love buying frames at second hand shops because they’re often in great condition and so cheap!) I bought this 11″ x 14″ (28 cm x 35.5″) beauty for $3.00, and it included a mat for my 8″ x 10″ artwork.
I took the mat out and carefully traced around the beveled edge on the inside with a permanent marker. This, I reasoned, would add more contrast between the white mat and the off-white state calligraphy art. Then, I taped the artwork to the mat, placed everything inside the frame, and secured the back shut.
People have a fondness for places, and we love to be reminded of our most beloved spots. As Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz — a Kansan — famously put it, “There’s no place like home”. That’s why it’s important to decorate our spaces with artwork that makes home feel more homey and calls to mind our beloved haunts!
Another reason I love calligraphy state art? It draws people in! All the details urge a viewer to step forward and observe. My husband couldn’t help but take in all the details of the state where we first met. There’s just so much to look at!
Free Kansas Calligraphy Download
I’ve lived in Colorado for nearly a decade, but I was born and raised in Kansas. Kansas is only a three-ish hour drive from Boulder, so we’re there all the time visiting family! I love the wide open plains, the lush landscapes in eastern Kansas, and the friendly attitude that you’ll find throughout the state. If you also feel a connection to Kansas, I’ve got a little gift for you: a printable download of this calligraphy art.
For best results, print it out on drawing paper that’s cut to 8.5″ x 11″ (21.6 cm x 28 cm) or Epson Velvet Fine Art Paper. You can play with your printer settings to ensure the best quality piece!
I am so pleased with how this piece turned out, and I’m confident that this technique can make any state or country look good! If you’re interested in making something like this, be sure to follow the original state calligraphy art tutorial. Then, pop it in a frame and — voilà — you’ve got a gorgeous gift! Thanks so much for reading, and have a wonderful, creative weekend.