I branched into brush calligraphy after learning the basics of the far more rigid copperplate style pointed pen calligraphy. Compared to pointed pen, brush lettering is more forgiving, more free, easier to get the hang of and I’ll admit, more fun!
In my first beginners brush lettering workshop at Beau Est Mien just over a year ago, I really encouraged my seven students to explore their own style and preferences, and to let aspects of their handwriting and personality come through in their brush work.
For each student I brought along a little pack of reference sheets, a guide sheet, practice paper, brush pack and a little pot of black drawing ink. We went through the various brushes and styles they are suited to (I like the long, pointed liner brush but some preferred the shorter round brushes). We then spent some time practicing, exploring different alphabets and borrowing Beau Est Mien’s collection of coloured inks.
Any kind of calligraphy takes practice to get the hang of, but everyone did an amazing job. Thanks to Magali and the team at Beau Est Mien for having me!
Here’s a few tips if you’d like to try out brush lettering or calligraphy:
- I use taklon brushes, which are a synthetic fibre intended to mimic (much more expensive) sable and natural fibre brushes. Look for a liner or round brush for calligraphy.
- A big bottle of black drawing ink is cheapest for practicing – I use Atelier Waterproof Drawing Ink, which is working well so far. Dilute with water for grey tones. Do not allow it to dry on a brush, as it gets quite tacky and solid very quickly.
- Coloured inks, watercolour and diluted paints all work great for calligraphy as well if you want to bring in some colour.
- Brush calligraphy works well on most uncoated paper – I practice on recycled printer paper. Painted on thick watercolour paper, it can make a beautiful greeting card.
- Remember to be free and play with the medium – splatter paint, vary baselines, have fun!
- Fun fact: ‘Pack my box with six dozen jugs of liquor’ is a pangram – a sentence which includes every letter of the alphabet at least once. Good for practicing all the letters if you get sick of ‘The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’!
Join my next workshop!
I have another brush lettering workshop with Beau Est Mien coming up in August – see details over on the workshops page.
If you’d like to stay in the loop with, put your name down over on the Side Project workshops list and we’ll be in touch when new workshops come out!
Photos by Sabrina Wong