Penning a note in this fashion puts something special and personal in every letter drawn.
Natasha Lawrence, an instructor in the art of calligraphy at such places as Coastal Carolina University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and The Charleston Museum, will lead a beginner’s workshop, for ages 15 and older, 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday at Hobby Lobby, 1430 U.S. 17 N., North Myrtle Beach (The 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. sessions are sold out).
Based in Murrells Inlet, Lawrence gave an overview last month on the process for this ornate, classy style of penmanship, which she called “something to learn that you can use every day” and a skill she has taught professionally for about 20 years.
Q: What are the first letters or words taught in this introduction?
A: We focus on Italian italics, a style that was developed in the Renaissance. I always say, this is not a race, so take your time. We start with the wide nib of the pen, because you have to write big to be able to write slowly. As we down in our pads to a narrower nib, the same principle applies, so you know what you are looking for.
Q: When writing in calligraphy, what letters command the most work, precision and detail?
A: (With laughs) W, but I tell my students that nothing is carved in stone. ...
In calligraphy, it’s picking up and putting down, and picking up and putting down.
Q: What is the basic process in mastering this skill?
A: In class, we use two different kinds of pens – cartridge and double nib – and an ink well. ... Different pens require different kinds of pressure. Everybody learns at their own speed. For some, it takes a while; some catch on right away. The key is all about how you hold the pen – That’s really it. We are all programmed to write with a ballpoint pen. With calligraphy, this is like jumping into the deep end of a swimming pool. Our warmups include arm-up strokes – part of getting to know your pen. ...
This is something that happens in every single class: When students start to practice addressing their name, address, street, city, ... something will be misspelled. That happens because they’re so focused on the technique.
Q: With the teaching of cursive handwriting seemingly losing emphasis in grade-school classrooms, does calligraphy present a new entry for teens and young adults to find their own flavor and special touch in penning correspondence, as life’s highway brings birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and other celebrations?
A: So ofter I hear, “This is something I’ve always wanted to do.” These classes are focused on helping everybody, whether addressing a wedding invitation, writing a letter or notes, or creating art. It takes something to learn the technique, but you also have to something within. ...
No matter how poor you think your handwriting is, when you understand the fundamental principles, you have turned your miserable handwriting into a work of art. It’s so fun to see students, when they get the right hold of the pen,how beautiful their writing becomes, with wide and narrow strokes.
Q: In recent years, with texting and email becoming a crutch and a too-easy, lazy way for people to communicate – never mind the minding and watering down of basic, proper English and grammar – how can calligraphy help restore the rush and heart that goes into writing something personal?
A: When you’re writing a note to somebody, with a calligraphy pen, it’s a gift of your time. You’re letting that person know you have stopped in this fast-paced world, and by addressing an envelope, ... and writing a few words, you thought about them. There’s a gazillion reasons to do that. That in itself takes only a few minutes, and it is so appreciated. ... It’s something that goes back in time.
Q: Are more men or women interested in this art?
A: We do have men in my classes. ... It’s not uncommon to have men taking a calligraphy class. ...
I also am commissioned for many interesting calligraphy works. ... There are men who contact me to put into calligraphy some poetry for something they want to celebrate, or words to read to their brides at weddings, and I’m extremely impressed.
Q: What was the most memorable piece of correspondence you adorned with calligraphy in your life? Something framed on a wall?
A: I found an original watercolor painting of a couple of palm trees, and I spent a whole $4, something I bought in Asheville, N.C., ... and there was space in this whole picture for calligraphy work. I wrote a couple of lines from “Porgy and Bess,” as sung by Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald in the movie: “I got plenty of time. And nothing’s plenty for me. I got no car – I got no mule. I got no misery.”
Contact Steve Palisin at 843-444-1764.
If you go
WHAT: Calligraphy workshop
FOR: Ages 15 and older
BY: Natasha Lawrence, instructor at such places as Coastal Carolina University’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and The Charleston Museum.
WHEN: 5:30-7:30 p.m. Saturday (10 a.m. and 1 p.m. sessions are sold out)
WHERE: Hobby Lobby, 1430 U.S. 17 N., North Myrtle Beach
HOW MUCH: $30, including materials such as guides and practice papers.
CONTACT BY U.S. MAIL: Charleston SC Calligraphy, P.O. Box 426, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576