so yeah…this is what happens when you don’t practice calligraphy for almost a month.
you might not notice or be able to tell from this photo, but trust me…it’s bad.
before, i had gotten to a point where i was getting comfortable with my letter forms. but after having not practiced in a few weeks, my calligraphy is looking a little shabby.
since starting calligraphy in january, the one thing i know for sure is that the key to beautiful calligraphy is practice. because like anything, to improve requires practice. consistent, regular, repetitive practice.
there’s actually a scientific explanation why repetition works…it is a phenomenon known as muscle memory. whether it’s using a calligraphy pen, swinging a golf club, or playing the piano, consistent, repetitive practice creates neural pathways in the brain. so that after enough time, these movements will eventually become like second nature.
but to learn calligraphy (or golf or piano or whatever) you can’t just sit there and mindlessly whip out letterforms and call it ‘practice’. to learn calligraphy and develop this muscle memory requires a certain kind of practice. focused, deliberate, intentional. paying attention to the pesky details like proper slant, spacing, and connectors. in the more modern style of calligraphy that i like to practice there is a lot more room for creative license here. but the basic principles still apply…and consistent, regular practice is the only way to achieve them.
anyway, after practicing a bit more yesterday, i started to feel like i was back in the swing of it a little….not anywhere close to where i was a month or so ago, but i felt better…like all my hard work had not been completely lost.
i was thinking about this yesterday….how calligraphy is kind of like life. of course in calligraphy what i’m practicing is strokes and shapes to make letterforms and words. but in life, the essential shape and form i need to practice is gratitude. constant, regular, deliberate practice.
just like with calligraphy, it’s all about developing muscle memory.
i am living proof that it is super easy to get busy and careless about the daily practice of gratitude. to be distracted and not pay attention. to ignore the finer details. and i have found that it is in those times that life isn’t as pretty as i would like it to be. that’s when i know that it’s time to slow down. pay attention. and get back into the habit of a regular, deliberate practice.
even with all the ink spatters and frustrations and less than pretty attempts, i still enjoy the process of learning and growing. so i think i’ll keep practicing.
thank you april.