Sunday, 25 September 2011

Foundation Degree in Calligraphy / week #2

This week we have been developing our skills with the Roman Capitals (monoline). That is, skeleton letters that follow the classical lines of the Roman inscription on The Trajan Collumn in Rome. Exercises throughout the two days in constructing the geometric letters at different heights, learning about the various widths/groupings of the alphabet, and then going on to word spacing and 'balance' of a specimen piece of writing, using the skeleton letters.A steady hand is required, as well as an increasing awareness of how the letters are constructed, and how they 'work'. These letters are like old friends to me, but they can still catch one out, with subtle differences in width and proportion. Homework involves plenty of practise, and working up final pieces to the standard required for the first course assignment.

On the second day a visit from course leader Professor Ewan Clayton, who introduced us all to the intriguing history, properties and applications of Japanese Sumi ink. Ewan pretty much knows all there is to know about not only this, but many other calligraphic and typographic wonders. We listened intently as he shared the finer points with us, then proceeded to demonstrate the ink, before allowing us to also try it out.

Throughout the days of the course I'm taking notes in a small notebook. I'll then be writing up a fuller version into my research book, one of the assignment elements for which my work will be marked. Here's a snapshot of my notes on the geometric construction of the monoline Roman Capitals.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Let's start at the very beginning...

During the first session of the Foundation Degreee in Calligraphy, we have been learning about Roman Capitals. Studying in particular the classical letters in the inscription on Trajan's Collumn. These letters are pretty much the starting point for any reference or study of calligraphy, or typography for that matter. They are considered to be the finest example of Roman Capitals, and although there are others, these are the ones we are basing our study on, and which I will be exploring and disecting over the coming weeks.
It feels rather strange coming back to these Trajan letters, because this was actually my own starting point for design and typography forty years ago! My art teacher, Bob Lightfoot, trained us pupils in calligraphy. Girls practised sloping Italics and boys did Roman Caps. I realised some years ago that Bob must have been a pupil of Leonard Evetts at Kings College (now Newcastle University), as I remembered him wearing the KC blazer and badge! Evetts was not only a pre-eminent stained glass designer, but also a master letterer and calligrapher. He wrote books about the Trajan inscription, and his definitive book 'Roman Lettering' was the one we boys used in our art classes.

It is nice to think of the continuity there... Evetts researching the Trajan and presumably learning it from someone (perhaps a pupil of Edward Johnston?...note to self...must look into this!), Bob Lightfoot learning from him...and me learning from Bob. I can say with all honesty that this teaching sparked a flame in me which resulted in me studying typography and design forty years ago, and also finds me carving out time to study calligraphy more seriously at this time. [to be continued]

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Foundation Degree in Calligraphy / week #1

In the beginning was the train. And lo, the train was late. And verily, the travellers were vexed to a degree which begat emmissions of voice that sorely disturbed their fellow travellers.
And lo, other means of transport, even luxury coaches, were summoned, and they did convey the weary, the downtrodden, the despairing and broken humanity to the promised land of Darlington, for that place was beyond that which seers called 'the place of fallen trees' and was a place of true peace and joyful travel. And lo, after a period of time equalling that which was seven earth hours past that which had been promised, they did arrive at the Cross of Kings, there to rest and enjoy sustainance, and indeed, beer!

The joys of rail travel. So began the first journey of many which I will be undertaking over the next two years. Not a good start, but on the positive side, surely it can't get much worse!The Foundation Degree in Calligraphy with Design is being held at Kensington Palace, and here are the students and tutor who will be my companions during this calligraphic journey. After checking in together we made our way to our studio...
Our first morning was spent with Manny Ling, the programme leader, going through the student handbook and first module with us. We also covered registration and the all important in-house rules and regs which apply to our venue and to the University.

Then it was down to business with our tutor Cherryll Avery, who lost no time in introducing us to the first module of the semester - Foundations of Calligraphy. [ be continued]

Friday, 9 September 2011

Bring it on!!

I'm off to that London on Monday to begin my Foundation Degree in Calligraphy with Design. So little equipment you ask?...I know...crazy!! And why do you need the passport in London you ask?...all will be revealed in due course!