It’s never too late to learn something new, especially when it comes to the creative arts. So over the weekend I got around to diving into something I’ve been wanting to learn more about for a while now; hand lettering. I can’t say that it’s something that’s completely new to me. When I started making my own greeting cards I touched on it a bit when it came to creating texts for my cards. This sparked an interest in learning more about lettering that I kept filed away in the back of my mind for two years now. So this past Friday I headed to my local library to look for a couple of books to help me learn about the basics. Unfortunately they really didn’t have much to work with. Most of the books that were suppose to be on the shelf ended up either missing or misfiled. In the end I only walked out with two books, one on The Illuminated Alphabet, the other on Hand and Chalk Lettering. Two books is better than no books.
One of the things that has always puzzled me about hand lettering is what’s the difference between hand lettering, calligraphy and typography? For the most part, I’ve always thought of them as being one in the same with the only difference being whether you did it by hand or on a computer. But actually there are some major differences.
In brief, lettering is the art of drawing letters that is much like an illustration just done with letters where hand lettering is a subset of lettering done specifically by hand.
Calligraphy is the art of writing letters and focuses on penmanship through the use of specific writing tools. Calligraphy is used for much longer written pieces of text. Lastly,
typography focuses on the style, appearance and artistic arrangement of type for printed material.
So in a nutshell, the way I keep all of this straight in my head is lettering is drawing letters, calligraphy is writing letters and typography is arranging letters. It’s simplistic and others may beg to differ, it’s just my own way of keeping it straight in my head.
Anyhoo, I’m working to expand my drawing skills to hand lettering because I’m often inspired by inspirational quotes, song lyrics or spiritual verses that conjure up visual images in my mind that I would like to create yet I want to add some source text to give the drawing context. Also hand lettering can be really cool when coupled with some imagination. Below are some wonderful examples of illustrative hand lettering.
With the upcoming holiday I can say with 80% certainty that I doubt I’ll get much work done. Hopefully I can squeeze in 30 minutes here or an hour there but I’m already tied up with plans and preparations. So I figured I’ll do a brief update on my current drawing.
So far I got the background all stippled and now I’m ready to start inking the various details. I’ve started off with working on the halo of light around the dove’s head, the design of which was inspired by an afternoon of looking at paintings of mystics and saints. Next I’ll probably delve into inking the flowers leaving the dove for last. My next update probably won’t be until the 7th, so until then, happy holidays and please handle fireworks responsibly. 😇
It’s been a few days so I wanted to post a quick snapshot of the progress on my current drawing.
Right now I’m just filling in the background and honestly, despite it being tedious, it’s the part of the drawing I like doing the most. When I’m inking solid backgrounds it’s like slipping into a meditative state where I don’t have to think much. I’m not worrying about whether the subject matter looks the way I intended it to look or anything of the sort. All I have to be mindful of is whether the stippling is smooth or not, which is easy to correct if it isn’t.
I also noticed that creating drawings where I get to fill in backgrounds like this allows me to get comfortable with the drawing first and ease any anxiety I might feel because even though I’ve been doing this for a while now, each new drawing causes me a certain amount of anxiety. It’s like going on a first date over and over again. You’re excited, nervous and worried about messing it up. So spending a few days just quietly stippling the background lets me get comfortable and familiar with my drawing.
In the process of working on the background I’ve changed things just slightly. In my initial base drawing I had drawn four rays of light coming down. I’ve now reduced it to just one main ray, which I’m still not sure if I’m going to leave in or not. I might just go with having a halo of light around the dove’s head. I’m still working it out in my mind so we’ll see.
Well, I’m getting started with the inking on my latest drawing. Over the weekend I worked out all the details and got it drawn out so now it’s just the long journey of hours on stippling it. I’m debating on whether or not to keep the rays of light in the background or just have a glow around the dove’s head. So there may be some changes in the future…or not.
Anyhoo I’m nervous and excited to see how this turns out since I’ve been thinking about doing this piece for about two months now. Wish me luck for a beautiful finish. 🙏😀
If you’ve been with me for a while, then you’re aware that things with wings, particularly birds, are one of my favorite subjects to draw. Lately I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing something with doves, so last night I got to sketching out some thoughts for my next piece. I’m just in the preliminary stages of this so nothing is final. This piece will be a bit larger than my art card drawings, probably about 5×7, so I’ll be working on it for a while. But I’m excited and looking forward to inking it, although, I wish there was a way I could just take the image from my mind and just place it on the paper. Trying to get something from my mind, to my hand, to the pen and on to paper can feel rather laborious at times.