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I have a few sketchbooks I keep with me. I’ve been filling them up with some lettering exercises. One is a larger one that is about 8.5 x 11 inches, I believe. One is a Moleskin with graph paper. The others are the small Fabriano EcoQua sketchbooks. I can fit those in my handbag. That’s always nice.


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I love the little Fabriano’s though they cause most of the brush letters to bloom or plump up a little. Sometimes, I plan the larger exercises in these first with a mechanical pencil.

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Composition is one of the most difficult aspects of any piece for me. But it’s usually the first thing that you see with any kind of imagery. So, I’ve been trying to compose quotes and some of my favorite scriptures sometimes, just to see if I can work that concept out for myself. That scripture is one of my favorites right now. The idea that dreams I had for my life that I felt had died long ago still have the ability to be revived again today is comforting. I digress…Composition. I’m rusty at stretching that part of my mind. I haven’t had to, really. Once an observational painter, I refuse to even call myself that anymore. I haven’t painted in probably over a year now. I just work and pay bills now. I started wanting to learn how to letter after my pastor asked me to make some posters of scriptures for our church and I realized I had no idea how to do that. I was trained as a fine artist, not a designer. But, I figured, I’d learn enough to get some posters of scriptures on the wall at some point. I felt like it would just be more sitting in front of the computer and I do a lot of that for work anyway. Little did I know that it would start me drawing all over again…just in a very different way. Funny how even with drawing letters, many of the same issues I found in fine arts still play a part. I like that. It’s accessible and foreign and familiar all at the same time.

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I probably would have liked some of these exercises better without the background colors. But, I had pre-stenciled some of the pages in the front of this sketchbook and I was unwilling to waste them. Waste not, want not. That’d probably make a good quote to try some time…

Sometimes my brush lettering comes out okay. Sometimes not. I think it’ll come together with time. I feel like it has a lot more to do with planning negative space even more so than the positive space…but controlling that is some sort of dance you have to learn with practice. For now, I just try to see what kind of different kinds of marks the ones I have so far can get. I just use words that come to my mind so a lot of this is nonsense. But, technically, it seems I’m better with the firmer-tipped markers/pens like the Copic Sketch markers than the brush tips like the Pentel Pocket Brush. But they’re both pretty enjoyable so long as I can let go of any idea of perfection right now. I can do that.

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This graph paper…I’m not sure about how to really get the most out of it. I tend to ignore the lines most times. Ignoring is probably not what those lines are for at all.

There’s definitely a difference between trying to draw beautiful letters versus trying to write beautiful letters. I love that Lettering vs Calligraphy site, by the way.

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They’re equally difficult though!

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