Why Lettering for 100 Days?I remember when I first heard about the 100 day lettering project. An artist by the name of Tiantian Xu blogged about her experience after recently completing the project. You can read that blog post can here. I was really inspired by her journey and her blog post came at a time in which I was searching for a way to improve my lettering skills.
For the last few years I have actively participated in Inktober, where for the month of October, artists are encouraged to draw with ink everyday and post to social media. For me, the discipline of working everyday produces results. By the end of Inktober, my ink work had improved significantly.
Having experienced such improvement as a result of discipline, I was very interested in the idea of a 100 day lettering project. There wasn't any other idea that I had come up with to improve my lettering, other than practice, so a commitment of 100 days seemed like the right thing to do to achieve the results I was looking for.
So on the 16th of April, 2016, I made my first post announcing I was undertaking the project.
Fonts, Letterforms & StylesInitially I decided to concentrate on fonts. My hearts desire has always been about being able to sit down at a drawing board in worship, and allowing the Holy Spirit to work through me. I rationaled that in order to let this happen, I needed to be confident in lettering, understanding letterforms and styles so I could work freely without the need for a reference guide. So my first 24 days were all about font! Here's a few pics of some of my faves from the project.
The A,B,C's of Illuminated Letters
The next 26 days were used to work on a letter of the alphabet each day. I wanted each letter to be ornate and a be piece of art by itself. This is also where I wanted to start showcasing my abilities as an artist, pulling bits and pieces of things I'd been learning together.
Illuminated lettering is a love of mine. Old manuscripts and bibles of the Middle Ages and Medieval Period are of such beauty, and this beauty is rarely seen today as publishers rely on computer generated text and typography. To open a book and be greeted with gold or silver shining off the page is an experience. To have margins filled with ornamental designs and flourishes demonstrates a love of the text it accompanies. In ancient times, a lot of the illuminated lettering was in religious texts, like the bible. It's purpose was to exalt the texts, as in these cases it was considered to be the Word of God. This divine purpose for lettering is lost in today's technological world, and I have a deep desire to see it return to continue to exalt the Word of God and engage the reader in beauty.
My entire illuminated alphabet can be viewed here, I've posted a few pics of my favourite letters below.
Day 50 to Day 100 I concentrated on calligraphy. Before the project, I had had limited experience with a dip pen and ink, so this is where I really dug in and believed for a result before I actually saw it. I kept reminding myself of past Inktober successes as calligraphy has been one of the most frustrating, yet rewarding crafts I've ever undertaken. Some nights, a scripture verse took over three or four attempts to produce something that was photo worthy. I wasn't expecting Seb Lester calligraphy results (google him if you don't know who he is), but I was expecting to produce something that was neat, had a consistent slant and was pleasing to the eye. I cannot tell you how frustrated I was in the early days trying to meet my own expectations.
Using an oblique dip pen and ink does not come naturally, it is a learned skill and I take my hat off to the masters of the craft. It's about here that I should give a big shout out to Lindsey Bugbee of the Postman's Knock blog. Lindsey is my calligraphy hero, I have been inspired by her work and am grateful for her heart to teach others the craft. Through her I have learned the basic calligraphy principles, I have bought her calligraphy courses and now have a bit of a clue about inks and nibs. I have a long way to go as I continue to work on my calligraphy, however I wanted to show you just what can be achieved in 50 days. Below are two pics - the first piece I did on Day 50 and the final piece I did on Day 100.
A vast difference between the two and this is where I get my encouragement from to continue on. If this is what can be achieved in 50 days, then where will I be by the end of the year. Such an encouraging thought and it's one that will drive my work for the remainder of the year. Below are a couple of pics of my fave scripture verses from the last 50 days.
Give It a Go...
Overall this has been a remarkable experience that I would encourage others to undertake. If it is on your heart to work with lettering, then embark upon a 100 day project and see where things take you. As a result of the project, I have been commissioned to do some work for others, and have a portfolio of work that will stand as a testament to my efforts for many years to come. If now's not the time, then when is?
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