Calligraphy in Amsterdam


During my ~2 week work trip to Amsterdam I was able to keep up with doing my 30 minutes calligraphy a day. I was pretty proud of myself that even though I was away from home, I could keep up with my routine. Unfortunately I only have 1 photo to capture the work. I’ll have to take a photo of all the sheets I went through during that week sometime in the near future.

Two days, two letters

When I first got into calligraphy I didn’t focus on doing any type of drills to improve my penmanship. Something this time has changed. I think part of it is documenting my process. It’s easy to let time pass and not ‘see’ any improvement which then can lead to less motivation. Yesterday, I chose to work on the minuscules ‘d’ and ‘g’ and had a really tough time getting the proportions right. So, the next day I tried again. The image below is a side by side comparison of the two.



NIB: Nikko G

Day 1 (Left): Main challenge throughout the exercise was creating consistent strokes and decent looking proportions.

Day 2 (Right): Proportions were a bit better and I was able to find a steady rhythm. Consistent strokes and letterforms are still and issue, but there’s noticeable improvement between the two days.

A sheet full of i’s.

My Arm. My elbow. OMG. I have no idea why my arm usually ends up hurting while practicing. It’s probably due to bad form. I should look into that.

Today’s focus was to get a full sheet of i’s. Doing an entire sheet of a single letter is monotonous, however I love seeing the end result #worthit. My favorite part of the exercise is when you get a perfect to letter spill out from the nib… now I just need to figure out how to repeat that for each repetition.


After I celebrated completing a full sheet, I moved on to practicing my favorite letter. E’s are wonderful and fun to write, the proportions are absolutely beautiful ❤ This was my first time using the walnut ink and hunt nib on the marker pad and I couldn’t wait to see the combination of these three elements. There was absolutely no snagging on the paper and the nib/ink easily glides on the page. More importantly, the dry time is about the same as the Rhodia Pad—which is great because I have no patience for ink to dry.


I kept this exercise fun and less structured. At this point my hands were cold and stiff but it didn’t matter. I was able to convince my fiancé to turn up the thermostat, so by then end of the page they were warming up and I was able to get some more fluid motion.

Paper: 8.25×11″  Rhodia Ruled Pad & 9×12″ Canson Marker Paper
Nib: Hunt Imperial
Ink: Tom Norton’s Walnut

Letter anxiety

Last night my fiancé asked me to write “happy new year” on some cards that we’re sending out to family. My immediate response was “NO.” I can’t deal with the pressure. Every card needs to be perfect. I can’t mess up. My body fills with nervousness and a begin freeze. Hm, that pretty much sums up the narrative in my mind for e v e r y t h i n g.

Even though negative thoughts create an avalanche effect on me, it doesn’t stop me from doing it (sometimes I wonder WTH do I always do this to myself!). I sat down, got some bristol paper from the cupboard to practice on. Well, sort of…


The top left corner of the photo is where I take out my ink and it immediately bleeds on the paper. Perfect, I don’t have to do this anymore… it’s not going to work. Ciao! Out of frustration I start to  clean up and wipe my brush out on the page while saying to Randal “I can’t do it. It’s not going to work. I’m not going to do it.”

Hahaha ha Just kidding. Again. With that semi-empty brush my arm becomes possessed by the calligraphy demon and I begin to sloppily write “happy”. Something in my mind clicks and I get out the gouache to mix some new ink. I put the nib to paper and it works. Great… ::insert eye roll emoji::

There I go. I struggle with writing “happy” and it’s making me so incredible frustrated. So, I ditch it. I figure I’ll just write happy in small uppercase letters above new year. Problem solved… or avoided, however you want to look at it. Writing “new” was quick and easy. Done. But “year” though. Ugh. I couldn’t get “year” to look decent. There was something about writing the e-a-r in the modern calligraphy style that I couldn’t manage. I folded the paper in half and turned it over and kept going.MVIMG_20180102_072959.jpg

At some point I had to move on. I was spending way to long on this and I needed to get it done. My rational was that it was just going to family, and it’s not like I was going to post it for the world to see.

I didn’t have too many cards to do so, I took a deep breath and went for it. I powered through all the cards and walked away. I didn’t want to see them again.

The next morning, I looked at the finished stack with fresh eyes. Shit. They’re not as bad as I thought. After all the phycological torture I went through, I liked them. These cards are simple, but the story they have is pretty damn interesting.

PAPER: Bristol Board
NIB: Hunt Imperial
INK: Gouache

Scratching the itch.

It’s been over a year since I last practiced some calligraphy. For the past couple of days I’ve been wanting to pick up my pen and ink but never got around to it (honestly I was just being lazy and eating too much chocolate cake). Well, as cliché as it sounds… new year, new me right? So I brought in the new year by dusting off the nibs and getting to work.

Today’s focus was to crack open the Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy book and focus on the ‘g’ and ‘j’ minuscules. I was pretty surprised that it doesn’t look completely atrocious. I can clearly see the areas I want to focus on: consistency of the letter forms, spacing, and shapes of my ovals. With practice, I know i’ll get there ::fingers crossed::


Paper: 8.25×11″  Rhodia Ruled Pad
Nib: Nikko G
Ink: Tom Norton’s Walnut