The Art of Practicing

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Taking a 2 hour calligraphy class is a great step towards really learning hand motions and getting a feel for the pen. But if you’re serious about learning calligraphy, you’ll want to go home and pick up your pen for deliberate practice the very next day. Whether it’s learning a musical instrument, sports, fishing, or even chopping onions, developing muscle memory requires deliberate practice.

Most of us are much better drivers at 40 years old then we were at 16. We’ve done it so many times since then, it’s not something we think about anymore. There isn’t a check list that we have to mentally go through before we back out of our garage, we instinctively do all the right things because we’ve done it 1000’s of times before. 

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Calligraphy is a muscle memory activity. You learn how it feels to apply the perfect amount of pressure on a downstroke. Only by doing it over and over and over can you then replicate that exact pressure every time. At the beginning your downstrokes will vary widely but with time and practice they will all start to look the same.

Set yourself up for a successful, productive practice session:

Remove distractions.

Keep your phone in the other room, turn the TV off, and ask your family to give you 15-20 minutes of quiet time. 

Focus on one task at a time.

Now is not the time to multi-task. Set a specific goal for your practice session. For example, today you are only going to practice upstrokes. Set a timer for 20 minutes and very deliberately start to practice upstrokes. Do 10 and then look them over to see what looks good and where in the stroke you need to focus. Is the bottom of the upstroke a little wider than the top. Try 10 more trying to make that more consistent.


Be consistent.

20 minutes a day will drastically improve your muscle memory and you’ll start seeing results very quickly in the quality of your strokes. You’ll also find that practicing how to deeply focus on a task and review it with a detailed eye is not something we spend a lot of time doing these days! Everything is very fast and we just scroll mindlessly. Taking a little time every time to remind yourself what it means to focus is a gift that will affect all areas of your life. 

Taken from my Brush Calligraphy Class handout. First we learn shapes and practice them over and over!

Taken from my Brush Calligraphy Class handout. First we learn shapes and practice them over and over!

My new calligraphy class, traditional pointed pen (dip pen) calligraphy is Saturday, June 8th in Hurst, Texas.  Enrollment is opening soon, sign up to be notified when it does! 

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