October 31, 2011 – Pointed Pen Variations Class #4 at Sinai Temple

(note: more photos to come)
Today DeAnn demonstrated the Capitals exemplar.  She also went over stroke #5 and made some observations based on her review of the homework. For warm-up, we wrote words and sentences.

Today’s handout was a guideline with a smaller x-height (3/8” instead of ¼”). Highlight the waist-base space (skip 3 lines in between for the ascender and descender space as well as the inter-linear spacing). To download, click on the picture (it will appear by itself against a black background), then Save the image to your computer.

DeAnn brought black Higgins Eternal ink to mix with the vermillion ink to make a sepia-colored ink. Fill one inkwell halfway or so with vermillion ink, then add five drops of the black Higgins Eternal ink. Use the other end of your pen holder to mix. This mixture blends well, unlike some other sumi inks, which bead up in the vermillion ink and never blend together.

Review of nibs:  the Hiro 40 and Hunt 101 nibs make thin hairlines, but can be difficult to “break in”. If several treatments of gum Arabic haven’t worked, try burning the resin off with a lit match. See last week’s entry for details. Or try dropping the nib into boiling water.

Homework notes:  DeAnn noticed that the “e” is often too wide. It should be more oval than round; try compacting it a bit.
The crossbar of the “f” should be on the waistline, not below it. The crossbar should be like a figure-8.

Nib identifier sheet from Satomi:  Satomi created a nib identifier sheet by cutting out actual-size pictures of the nibs and putting it into a sheet protector so that you can tape the nib to the plastic without harming the identifier sheet. Thank You, Satomi!

Making Stroke #5:  set – press – pull (decrease pressure slightly in the middle to make the thick-thin-thick stroke) – stop – release – pull to the right.

Go slowly and carefully; you don’t want a thin line to hang from the bottom right edge. Look closely at the strokes exemplar and read Jane’s notes. Then practice putting the bow in. However, for now, it’s OK to make the stroke straight until your hand gets better at the manipulation.

Capitals:  the size is from the base to the ascender. For demonstrating them on the board, DeAnn didn’t always write in the guidelines. See the handout for Jane’s detailed notes.

Capitals taller than the ascender depending on height of stroke #5.

NOTE: If you look closely at the exemplar, Jane makes stroke #5 from ascender to base-line. This makes her capitals go beyond the ascender for letters like B, , D, P, R, etc. So she makes other letters like S taller than the ascender to be of similar size. DeAnn feels that for herself, this makes the capital letters get too big, so she prefers to make stroke #5 slightly shorter so that the whole Capital is contained within the ascender and baselines. You can try it either way; the goal is to be consistent.

Notes on individual letters:
A:  just like the lowercase “a” – think “Oval”.
2nd A:  first stroke is no pressure, then pressure; it should be very diagonal, more diagonal than the slantline. Start the 2nd stroke just a little bit lower than the ascender for a nice overlap.

B:  stroke #5. Then think of two ovals, the top one a little smaller than the bottom. Go back and thicken the flourish (note:  this is what the little “x” means on Jane’s exemplar – other letters also have this).

D:  stroke #5. Then think oval. Finish by thickening the flourish.

E:  like the “C but with a crossbar. The crossbar should as far as the top (carrot) or even farther.

F:  on Jane’s exemplar, the first stroke is the stem stroke #5, but DeAnn’s alternate is to make the top bar the first stroke so you know where to start stroke #5. Try it both ways.

G:  like the “C” and “E”, then like stroke #6.

H:  first stroke – stop at the baseline and move slightly toward the left. The bottom should be kind of square. For the second stroke – start at the ascender, set – move left – press, then like stroke #4. Crossbar at the waistline.

I:  Like “F”, try making the top bar the first stroke.

J:  alternate suggestion from Jennifer:  start at the ascender and make the stem stroke #6; then make the flourish stroke as the downstroke so you don’t have to go back and thicken it.

K:  Go past the stem at the waistline to make the branch.

L:  Unlike the “I”, the left side is shorter for the bottom bar.
2nd L:  start at the waistline, like a figure-8 to the ascender. Then another figure-8 at the baseline, go past the top of the letter.

M:  like lowercase “m”, start the second upstroke at the baseline and go up the side of the first stroke to branch nicely. Don’t start the stroke where it branches. You want a tangential curve, not an intersection, which flows better.
2nd M:  start with little pressure from the ascender, more diagonal than the slantline. Then imagine a “U”.

N:  the first and third strokes should be the same angle as the slantline. Overlap the S-curve for a nice join. 2nd N:  like the lowercase “n”.

O:  Think of the letter as a big oval; pressurize downstroke to end it.

P:  DeAnn suggests making the flourish side bigger than the bowl of the P. Think of it as a big oval.

Q:  think of this as an oval plus a figure-8

R:  the second stroke branches at the waistline, higher than where the P ends.

S:  think of the “S” contained within a box with sides parallel to the slantlines. The carrot should be contained within the box.
2nd S:  loop above the ascender.
3rd S:  the top is bigger; this is a sign painter’s S, a more modern look.

T:  Like “F” and “I”, DeAnn suggests doing the top bar as the first stroke. Try it both ways.

U:  start like a big stroke #7 that goes into a #3

V:  start like a big stroke #7, but look closely at the exemplar; Jane separates the next stroke slightly.
2nd V:  start like a big stroke #7 that goes into a #3 to the ascender.

W:  stroke #7, but come up and aim toward the ascender. This makes for a better overlap with the second stroke.
2nd W:  like the “U”.

X:  On the exemplar, the first stroke is along the slantline. But DeAnn likes  to make it a little straighter or even going diagonal the other way. This is so the second stroke isn’t so curved, but is straighter. Otherwise, be careful that it starts to look too curvy like a spider.

Y:  like the “W”, stroke #7 but come up and aim toward the ascender, but stop slightly below it. Then a stroke like #6 that goes from the ascender to the descender.

Z:  both are similar to their lowercase versions, but the 2nd Z has a figure-8 crossbar at the waistline.

For Y and Z, observe where they end at the descender. Look at where the curve is leading the eye; you want it to lead back into the letter (i.e. a more oval shape), not out into space.

HOMEWORK:  Practice the capitals. Try tracing them. Use the smaller guidelines. Then practice writing Capitalized words. Never write words all in capitals! See DeAnn’s website for alphabetical Flower Names. Or google “alphabetical lists of words” for other lists. Write one word for each letter all the way through (i.e. don’t write several “A”-words, then a couple “B”-words, etc.). 26 words should fit on one sheet. Then practice text. You can use anything you like, for example poems, song lyrics, alphabet sentences, any excerpt.

DeAnn’s Homework

NEXT WEEK:  Trying different nibs and inks on different papers. Those of you who’ve taken calligraphy before, feel free to bring in any other inks and/or papers that you want to try.