Calligraphy is an artistic extension of the written word. Though a group of letters that is ‘word’ or sentence help us to communicate clearly I feel every single letter has its own meaningful structure and it tries to communicate all by itself when it is written in a calligraphic way!. This enables the reader to ‘experience’ the calligraphy art even before understanding it. To me calligraphy is not only beautiful writing but also meaningful writing.
Calligraphy art aims to produce a reaction, in which a deeper meaning is communicated from artist to viewer, and the viewer feels invited to think a new thought in response. Handwriting, by contrast, aims to be read.
Indeed it is a visual art related to writing. The term calligraphy is derived from Greek words for “beauty” (Kallos) and “to write” (graphein). It implies a great knowledge of correct forms of letters i.e. the conventional signs by which the language can be communicated.
But any calligrapher or viewer who has experienced calligraphy would definitely agree upon the limitation of the above definition. Because calligraphy is beyond just beatification.
Although undeniably true, these interpretations do no justice to calligraphy as this craft is much more than just well-performed penmanship. In fact, it is these half-hearted theories that are dimming both the value and characteristics of the calligraphic discipline. Bear in mind that the primary goals of handwriting are being quick, easily written and accurately read. Beauty, personality and artistic impact all fall second to these demands and are not at all important in handwriting as clarity and speed.
On the other hand, these are some of the key features calligraphy writing strives to achieve. Another common and obscure definition is that calligraphy is the process of making ornamentally decorated letters. This is, as well, partially true as dressing up the pages with different forms of decoration is a big part of the discipline. However, this is also just a segment of calligraphy as a whole and is far from a complete definition of the entire discipline.
Practicing calligraphy art is meditative and relaxing. It develops fine motor skills and retains the memory. Calligraphy art helps us make sense of our thoughts and promotes critical thinking.
Calligraphy Art as a Communication Medium
Communication is our basic need. Isn’t it? The way we communicate and mediums we use has changed and evolved in the long journey from homo sapien to today’s modern human being. Having an urge to have some common understanding and platform of communication, languages and its structures emerged. Eventually many Scripts evolved. How fascinating it is to see such a transformation!!!
We all know that visuals came much before than the spoken language. Many caves with beautiful structures and scripts are the evidence for this. All this depicts the need for communication whether with self or with others.
Artistic Visual communication is another aspect which is an inseparable part of human journey.
In a deeper sense calligraphy is the artistic process of forming beautiful symbols by hand and arranging them in a way that inscribes words that possess integrity, harmony, some sort of ancestry and rhythm.
In this definition, integrity represents admirable proportions and design of letters and symbols in calligraphy images. Harmony is a pleasing relationship between the words, characters and single letter’s elements. Ancestry refers to the preservation of heritage of letter-shapes, materials and techniques which calligraphers use. Finally, rhythm is a deliberate repetition in calligraphic writing that creates feelings of pattern and emphasis within the eyes of the viewer.
On their own, any of these factors do not amount to a valid calligraphic discipline – only when they are all assembled together does the entire process start to take on a shape of calligraphy.
Many calligraphers agree that there is another ingredient in the mix of perfect lettering and that is creative fire. A bit puzzling and nebulous, this can be explained as a slightly mysterious life and individuality of any piece of art. This individual stamp of the calligrapher’s personality on the work is ultimately what makes calligraphy a valid member of arts, it’s the key aspect that separates it from conventional penmanship and any machine standardized letter form.
Calligraphy aims to produce a reaction, just like any quality piece of sculpture or painting, its goals are to invoke a deeper meaning and communicate with the viewer on both the linguistic and creative level.
Although a bit too metaphorical to be considered a valid definition, many experts recognize that reading calligraphy is the closest way one can get to hearing music with eyes. Interestingly, this may be the most precise explanation of what calligraphic creative fire actually is
Types of Calligraphy
Worldwide these four types of calligraphy have enjoyed attention and are explored by many masters.
- Roman Calligraphy
- Chinese Calligraphy
- Indian calligraphy (e.g. Devanagari Calligraphy / Marathi Calligraphy
- Arabic Calligraphy
One can choose any of the script of his choice to explore.
How to Learn Calligraphy Art?
I know it’s quite overwhelming to know how to start a journey? How to write words or quotes in a calligraphic way? What should be the first steps?
These are some simple guidelines to start calligraphy based on my experience.
- Start exploring words from the scripts you are most comfortable at. This gives you little push to dive further deeper.
- Because you already have some emotional connection to this script and words, chances are higher that you explore better.
- Try to depict the meaning of the word while writing.
- Study many references of your chosen script that are widely available on the internet.
- Read, write and listen carefully
Tools for Calligraphy Art
This is another major subject to be studied before you start and one needs to keep exploring many tools as you go further.
Widely and commonly used tools are
- Cut nibs (angular cut nibs with size variation)
- Brushes (any sort any size)
- Pen brushes
- Chisel markers / cut nib markers.
- Metal tools that are readily available in market
- Make your own tool.
Generally it’s easy and good to start with cut nibs because it gives you proper hold on the tool. It gives you nice grip and thick and thin lines that creates lovely drama and adds beauty to the character. Once you understand the minute details in it you can explore more and more. Believe me it’s real fun. Going back to school and learning alphabets with totally different perspectives and maturity gives you so much joy!!! You would definitely think why this wasn’t taught at school level 🙂 anyways it’s never too late. Take your tool and start practicing. For inspiration go to my website.
Study and Practice of the Script
Calligraphy is not only about good handwriting; it is more about studying the inherent balance of the letter and then the word and here comes the training part.
There are various styles in which you can explore Roman calligraphy
To start with, “Chancery cursive” is the best style. It gives you a good understanding of letters and their weight. It’s not very fancy so comparatively easy to follow.
For Marathi you need to understand the Devanagari script. The slant or the angle used for devanagari is exactly opposite of chancery cursive.