Calligraphy 101.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

via Instagram @whitneynewby
As soon as I wrote that title - Calligraphy 101 - I had to laugh out loud. Because this is actually the second day I've ever tried modern calligraphy, so I really have no business writing this post.

Calligraphy practice, day 1
Calligraphy practice, day 1

Calligraphy practice, day 2
Calligraphy practice, day 2
But considering I've been posting up a storm on Instagram about it, I thought I'd update the blog to let you know how I've gotten started. I asked for calligraphy supplies for my birthday, and as soon as we got home from our trip to Nashville, they were wrapped up and waiting for me on our kitchen table. So happy. 

Shawn bought me this modern calligraphy book, this Speedball nib set, this black ink, and this calligraphy paper. It's all I've needed to get started, though I know I haven't even scratched the surface of possibilities. I know there are different colored inks and papers and blogs and classes and tutors and YouTube videos, but for the time being, that all overwhelms me. Maybe I'll get there at some point. 

Molly Suber Thorpe writes in her book that calligraphy is more like painting than writing. I couldn't agree more, and I think the fact that I paint nearly every day has really helped. The way I hold a calligraphy pen is the same way I hold a small paint brush, and the need for adjusting pressure is familiar to me. 

As the book recommended, I started out practicing strokes and lines and letters and not words. However, I moved on pretty quickly to words because it was just too tempting not to. Thankfully, the book features several different styles of lettering to practice, and I won't run out quickly. 

I'm so excited about this new little hobby! Hopefully someday I'll be able to offer prints in the shop, if I'm feeling confident enough at some point. And, if you're interested, I'll keep updating through this learning process. It's actually a very relaxing art for me. Though it feels a little tedious at first - and I'm definitely still figuring out how to keep the pen from splattering ink all over the page - it's completely therapeutic.


  1. Hope you had (or will have) a very happy birthday! Looking good already - but I knew you would. You seem to do everything well. But you do practice!!

  2. Love this!!! Thank you for sharing your progress. You're doing a beautiful job!

  3. Hey Whitney,
    I've been toying with the desire to learn modern calligraphy for quite a while now, and with a birthday coming up I remembered your post. As this was written months ago, I wondered if you had any additional tips or recommendations...I am not a painter, but thoroughly enjoy the act and beauty of writing. Also...I recently inherited my grandmother's watercolor supplies and was also interested to know if you have any beginner advice on that subject. Appreciate this little space on the web and the many, many ways you have enriched my life. Thanks :)

    1. That is so kind!

      As for additional tips... I would just say look on Pinterest for styles you like, and practice similar lettering. I got frustrated at first searching for "calligraphy 101" and finding very Gothic-style calligraphy that I didn't think I would use. So looking for examples of modern calligraphy could be helpful.

      As for watercolors, I'm really no expert at all. Again, Pinterest may be helpful in finding some basic watercolor tutorials. Wish I could help more!


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