In an age of texting, Twitter and email, the thought put into what a message looks like is literally nonexistent. And maybe that explains the appeal of calligraphy these days.
Natasha Lawrence, a calligraphy instructor at the Charleston Museum, teaches classes across the state. She will be coming to instruct a trio of classes at ARTworks in Beaufort.
Lawrence explains how calligraphy can be practical even today.
Question. How did you become interested in calligraphy?
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Answer. I was an art major in college; that eventually turned into a history major. It's sort of a combination of the two. I always had a love of penmanship. It's something that developed over time. When you least expect it, it gets some positive response. I've been teaching it quite awhile.
Q. What's the interest in calligraphy these days?
A. A lot. It's surprising. Other art teachers, in general, have noticed an uptick in arts classes. I think it's because of the economy. It's a feel-good, fun thing to do. With calligraphy, people don't have to have any artistic ability. Anybody can do it. I do see a growing increase in calligraphy. We get into things like handwritten envelopes. These days, that can mean so much to receive a handwritten envelope done in calligraphy.
Q. What's the focus of your class?
A. My class focuses on Italian italics. It's a hand that developed during the Renaissance to increase the speed of the monks who were hand-copying manuscripts. We go from plain italics to something with flourishes. It can be very beautiful.
Q. I have terrible handwriting. Can I do it?
A. Absolutely. Calligraphy is very forgiving. It's very much your own handwriting, but it's a distinct style of your own. Everyone's surprised by that. But it's true, even for those with bad handwriting.
Q. What happens when you mess up?
A. The whole process of calligraphy is about writing with something that's not a ballpoint pen. You can practice on line paper or copy paper. There's grids you can place inside an envelope so you can write straight. I emphasize doodling. It emphasizes skill because it's a continuous motion. The more confident you get, the easier it gets.