… which it’s possible I don’t have enough of. I’m more than halfway through this month of trying to learn calligraphy, and I am not sure I’m improving. I think I’m getting a little better at a couple of the styles (like the Uncials, or the Hobbit one, as I call it), but when I approach a new style in my book, like the dreaded Flourished Italics, it’s like I’m back at square one.
This clearly does not come easily to me! It might help to have a teacher, to watch me and point out what I’m doing wrong (which I’m sure is a lot). I do run out of patience quickly when I practice. If it’s not going well, I can feel the tension creeping up the back of my neck and shoulders, and before long I have a headache and want to stop. Sometimes I can practice for nearly a half hour. Other times it’s about ten minutes before I feel those telltale signs of frustration building up in my muscles. The swearing is always a good tipoff. I tell myself I’ll try again for a short period later in the day, but somehow I never get around to doing more than one session.
So how do I get through this frustration and continue to make progress? Not entirely sure there’s an easy answer. I know that when I’ve tried to learn difficult things on the drums and on piano, I take a number of approaches – sometimes I consult a teacher, or someone who knows more than I do; I watch YouTube videos; I slow down; I break the hard things into smaller bits to isolate the trouble spots and master one little piece at a time.
Aha! That’s what I have not been doing much with the calligraphy. I write each letter in its entirety (stroke by stroke, though), rather than just practicing each stroke several times first. In the book there are a few “homework” exercises like that, but not nearly enough of them. And the exercises offered do not necessarily focus on the ones troubling ME in particular; I need to figure that out for myself.
The other thing that helps when I’m learning a piece of music is that I have a specific GOAL: I have X amount of time to learn X number of songs in time for rehearsal, and ultimately a performance. I know what I’m working towards.
A goal is what I haven’t sorted out for this particular effort. I’m just plowing through the book that I bought, occasionally going back and reviewing bits at random s well as in the booklet that came with my kit. Sometimes I try the different sized nibs and colored inks, again at random. Originally, I thought I’d get through the entire book, but I’m not sure I can succeed at that. It’s called “Calligraphy in 24 Hours,” so I thought that 24 days (or more) would do the trick, but I’m not completing a chapter a day – far from it. I do require more review than that. And I frankly HATE some of the styles, such as Gothic – which looks bad to my eyes, plus I’m terrible at it – and I’m not sure Flourished Italic is much better.
So I will allow myself to skip a few styles and focus at improving on the ones I like better.
But I DO need a goal of some sort. My boyfriend suggested coming up with a poem or something to write out nicely and perhaps frame, which is a good idea. I DO need something to work towards, and maybe narrow down the few styles I will concentrate on for the final two weeks of my effort.