The art of writing beautifully

When drafting a letter or document, most of us would rather type it out and print it with our trusty printer. This way we know it’s neat and legible. But there is something so satisfying about reading a beautifully-crafted piece of writing. Each letter skilfully written by hand in rising and dipping swirls, turning each word into a masterpiece.

If you’ve ever wanted to learn to write words that look like works of art, then learning brush lettering could be for you.

Robyn Anderson presents workshops in brush lettering for beginners. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll probably want to attend the intermediate workshop too. Brush lettering is done using pens with a tip that acts almost like a brush. The amount of pressure and the angle it is used at create the thick or thin strokes that make up the beautiful letters. The basics of brush lettering are taught using pens with smaller, firmer tips and – with acquired skill – you will learn to move on to the larger pens.

At first you are taught the basics, such as holding the pen correctly. Then you learn the basic strokes: thin, light strokes up; and thick strokes down. It all seems easy enough until you are required to do curved shapes. Your mind tells you it’s “easy-peasy” but your hands seem to lose all co-ordination. With Robyn’s guidance and encouragement, we all managed to get the hang of it … well, sort of.

So you might ask, how is this different from calligraphy? Calligraphy is traditionally done with a hard-nibbed pen, nibs are in different widths and the angle at which you hold the pen creates the thin stroke up and thick stroke down. No difference in pressure and no adjusting of the angle of your hand to make the change is required. The misconception is that brush lettering is similar to cursive writing.

Brush lettering is similar to calligraphy in that each letter is created separately, but it is done in a way that makes the word look like it was created in one fluid process. Brush lettering requires a little more flexibility while creating the thick and thin strokes of each letter.

There are many brands of brush pens on the market. Some are readily available in South Africa and some not. Robyn has managed to source some of the more difficult-to-get-hold-of pens, and these can be purchased from her directly.

In 2020 when South Africa went into lockdown, Robyn had to find a way to continue teaching and started offering Zoom workshops. This she still does, along with conventional in-person workshops. If you are not sure what pens are available for brush lettering, Robyn has many informative videos on Youtube that will help you choose the correct pens and paper. Her videos will also help you with your lettering if you have forgotten some of what you learned in the workshop.

You’ll find all the information on her web site

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