The Oxford Calligrapher
I was lucky enough to be invited into BBC Radio Oxford this morning to talk about the way calligraphy helped me to turn my life around from a miserable mess of mental illness to a thriving small business owner.
My journey to happiness is a big part of my business and it helps me every day to shape the decisions I make. Here are some of the things I realised about calligraphy along the way...
I'll square with you... My first attempts at calligraphy were SHOCKING (with photo evidence!). And this is not me being modest! I couldn't stay on a straight line, there was no consistency between each letter and I really struggled to get the nib to do what I wanted it to do. I always remind people in my workshops of the following phrase from a poem written during the pandemic by Damien Bar; "we are not all in the same boat. We are all in the same storm. Some are on super-yachts. Some have just one oar.' This is definitely an attitude to live by. I was dreadful at calligraphy to begin with (and my handwriting is embarrassingly bad) but my calligraphy is pretty good now if I may say so myself! Patience and practice will get you there.
2. The tortoise was right... Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to modern calligraphy
The ink and nib used in modern calligraphy are quite tricky implements to use and they need careful handling. If you don't go slowly, it really won't work properly. The ink either won't flow or flows too much and you definitely won't get the lovely smooth lines you're hoping for.
So the only solution when it comes to writing modern calligraphy with a pointed pen is taking it slowly, which is the perfect antidote to the fast-pace life we usually have to live in. If you really want to slow down and breathe, calligraphy is for you. I couldn't believe how relaxing it was when I first started learning. Modern calligraphy is a truly mindful activity that takes the stress away.
Who remembers peering over the shoulder of their classmate wishing they had the right answer, or could draw as well as them or have nice handwriting like them?
Yes, we all did it. I used to look on Instagram at all the inspirational posts featuring the most beautiful calligraphy. Then I realised it was doing me no good at all. I soon started to focus on my own achievements, comparing myself to my previous practice, rather than other people's calligraphy. Watch your own incremental improvements and ignore everyone else!
4. Another truth: Modern Calligraphy really is about the journey, not just the destination
Calligraphy is beautiful when it's all written up in a beautiful piece of artwork, No doubt. BUT there is just as much joy from the process! The mindfulness that comes from calligraphy is the added bonus to the gorgeous final piece of calligraphy you make. It is definitely a perfect reminder for me to live in and enjoy the present moment; something I rarely did before learning calligraphy.
I have never been particularly spiritual and have always struggled to appreciate the concept of mindfulness, calligraphy is the one thing that has taken me into a headspace that I've never found before and calligraphy definitely introduced it to me. It puts you in a weird zone where you have to concentrate enough to make you forget your stresses but not so much that you can't listen to an audiobook or watch something light-hearted. Just perfect!
If you'd like to learn the wonderful and relaxing art of modern calligraphy, visit the LEARN page on my website for workshop dates and to sign up to my mailing list for future calligraphy learning opportunities.
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