Friday, October 14, 2011

Italic Saturation

Italic is one of the most useful of all the styles of calligraphy, in my opinion. It can be done with many variations on it's classic form to meet any calligraphic subject. Lets starts with the beginning.

In the 1400's when the renaissance was dawning, Europe became more literate and needed more secretaries, penman, accountants, scribes to record and write for business and church. In Italy classical letterforms and subjects were taking over from the church leading all commerce and literature. A style of calligraphy was developing that was more a descendant of Caroline styles than the more recent blackletter styles. With the "need for speed" it also took on a forward slant. It was called chancery cursive.
We use it today to write everything from wedding invitations and envelopes to posters and signs. It can look very plain or very decorative. I want the student to know where it came from and where it stands in the history of writing.
Materials Needed: Beginning Material List for chisel point pens.
Start with a pencil at 1/2 inch x-height.  Learn the letterforms and spacing thoroughly before using a chisel point nib.
1. Write all the letters using the exemplar to learn the letter structure. Trace if you find that helpful. These letters are based on a triangle rather than a circle. Method of practice: Look at the example, trace it in your mind, write the letter, look back at the example, "what did I do right, what did I do wrong?" Write it again, compare again, write it again and go on to another letter. It's not useful to keep writing the same letter over and over if you are not improving on it each time. You are reinforcing the wrong shape in your hand and head if you aren't looking back at the example and writing it correctly. Most students are in too big of hurry, so take a breath and slow down. Really LOOK at the example and emulate it as best you can. Write letters in their family groups, it helps learn their shapes better.
2. The letter families are: i,l,j,f,t = i family. o,e,c = o family. n,h,b,m,k,p,r,u,y = branching family.
a,g,d,q = a family. s,v,w,x,z = diagonals.
3. Practice writing letters, systematically and in an organized fashion. Leaving margins all around, not crossing anything out, but starting and finishing the whole page.
4. Spacing: Picket fence spacing. Equal amount of space within the letters and between letters. Take the space between the legs of n, this is the amount of space between letters. 2 vertical strokes use the same space as inside n, such as il, ll, tl, ni, minimum have equal space. 1 vertical and 1 curve stroke are a little closer together to make up for the extra space in the curve. 2 curves or diagonals are closest together. Try to think of the volume of space, between letters and within letters, the same.
Write alphabet sentences. There is a little more space between words. About the space of the n from one side to the other. If you put too much space between words it creates "rivers" of space in a paragraph of writing. The look of the page of writing is more important than the individual word or the individual letter.
5. TBA

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