Paper, Ink and Playful shapes
With Pam Kemp
When I heard that Denise Lach had released a new book Journeys in Calligraphy, Inspiring Scripts from around the World, I was super excited. When I heard that Pam was running a workshop based on Denise’s new book I knew I just had to go along.
At the start of the class Pam handed out the workshop notes and included in this was the exemplar for the Devanagari (pronounced dev-nagri) script. Pam gave an introduction to the class and we began by copying some of the Devanagari characters with a large nib. We were instantly aware of how difficult it was to recreate the characters comfortably, given the slant of the nibs we were using, so we did our best to get as close as we could to the real thing on the exemplar.
After this warm up exercise Pam asked us to choose our favourite character and invited us to then play with it. By this she meant that we could manipulate the character and exaggerate parts of it. Perhaps have one of the lines far bigger than shown on the exemplar, or maybe make it much smaller. We had a lot of fun with this and we were able to let our hair down and get creative with expressive strokes using our nibs.
The next part of the exercise saw us swapping our nibs over for ruling pens, pipettes a syringe or whatever took our fancy. We had to write the same character to see what effects we could achieve. It was very liberating to work so freely and expressively, and I went through gallons of ink in the process.
Pam asked us to choose our favourite design and draw a rectangle on a piece of paper approximately 110mm wide x 70mm high. Using our favourite writing tool from the previous exercise, we had to write one of the characters, extending part of it outside the rectangle and use varying line weights to create interest. She explained that we should be aware of the space in the rectangle—Western tradition aims to try and fill a space whereas the Eastern tradition is to empty the space. We rotated the page clockwise three times, each time writing the character in a different size whilst being mindful of the space created in the rectangle. If we had time we could colour in the spaces created by the lettering and some beautiful pieces emerged as the afternoon progressed.
We continued to play with the characters and some interesting designs were created. I especially liked the idea of writing the character once and rotating the page 90 degrees clockwise to write it again, trying to overlap a couple of the lines. Then with a foam roller, roll over the characters using the dirty water from the ink. This created a wonderful effect and Angela’s finished piece was very striking.
At the end of the afternoon we pinned our work up on the wall and admired everyone’s hard work. It was great to see all the different styles created in the three hours that the workshop ran.
I was so inspired by this class I actually practiced more of it the following weekend and a big thank you to Pam for running this fabulous workshop.
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