Saturday, December 22, 2018

Calligraphic Drawing

Calligraphic Drawing is a new art tutorial manual on the theory and application of steel nib calligraphy techniques to represent stylized animals and flourishes (see the cover). Artist Schin Loong provides a number of tips to get started, develop individual style and comfort with the process. This book was released 13th Nov 2018 on Quarto Group's Rockport imprint.  It's 128 pages and available in ebook and paperback formats.

Much of the information which Ms. Loong provides is available scattered on the internet or other sources, but this is one of the most efficient and worthwhile collection of tips, advice, confidence building, and good technical how-to I've seen on Spencerian flourishing and drawing.

I really really appreciated that the author says several places that practice is key to mastering techniques and building confidence and expertise.  More than anything else, Spencerian calligraphy is about repetition and practice.  Copying has less to do with artistic 'talent' and much more to do with solid commitment to repetition. There are many hours of practice behind the 'easy looking magic' of calligraphers' YouTube videos. There is no magic wand or shortcut and Ms. Loong is clear about that.

Another place that this book shines is the author's clear tutorials and troubleshooting guides.  Quite often, especially for the less experienced calligrapher, you understand that it doesn't look exactly 'right' but can't pinpoint why. This book has clear troubleshooting pages with good illustrations of what to do to improve.

Chapter one introduces tools and materials (and a little history) and covers about 13% of the page content.  The next (vitally important) chapter has several tutorials covering strokes and practice techniques.  The flourishes are built up thematically.  Although this chapter only represents about 20% of the page content, it will represent the lion's share of the technique practice for the calligrapher.  This chapter also ends with, hands down, the most incredibly awesome calligraphy flourished T-rex in my experience.  Definitely worth the price of the book in my opinion!  Chapters 3 and 4 cover specific tutorials for animals and letting with cartouches. The book ends with more tutorials and encouragement. 

There's a jaw dropping gallery section (ironically following the advice to try not to compare one's own work with other artists' work).  It's absolutely full of some of the most breathtaking envelope flourishing that I've ever seen.

One thing missing from the guide is a guide for sourcing materials and supplies, but they're readily available from online sources and local stationers. There is also no bibliography or sources for further reading, but a simple search of copyright free archives like will turn up a mountain of further reading.

Well written in plain and encouraging language, this is a worthwhile addition to the calligrapher's library. 

Five stars

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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