Obviously I know how to write – this very blog is an example of my propensity to ramble on a range of subjects. But that’s typing, not writing. I find that I can no longer actually, physically write. Yes, I can put pen to paper and inscribe words to convey a message, but it’s such a rare occurance that I find it physically demanding and aesthetically disappointing.
I was never known for my beautiful handwriting and when at school, at the age where you worked in triple lined exercise books to guide your ascenders and descenders (yes, I also know a bit about type), my not so tentative scrawl was so horrible in pencil that I was allowed, ahead of my peers, to use my very first fountain pen. Even then it was pretty gruesome, but it did improve over time and I had a long lasting love of fountain pens which peaked in my exam years in the late ’80s with a fabulously chunky black and gold Schaefer Targa pen with a thick gold nib. How I loved that pen! I could take the fastest dictation in class and write endlessly in my bold black scribble.
Times have changed and all note taking and letter writing are now conducted via my keyboard and I am as efficient at typing now as I was at writing back in the writing glory days.
Fast forward to the last year and a half and my involvement with the Manchester Urban Sketching group – an offshoot of the international Urban Sketching moment. I enjoyed going to the meetings and having a peaceful time concentrating on my not very good sketches, but I found that I was increasingly unsatisfied with any text I tried to add to my work. It was just a hybrid of my everyday handwriting (which as I have already said, very much not everyday handwriting and this is the problem) with a bit of extra thought to swirls and swags. It really didn’t work and with my sketching being a very occasional business, I wasn’t desperately motivated to improve things. Things have changed now but to the massive impact of the 7th International Urban Sketching Symposium which burst upon Manchester for a few days at the end of July. 500 of the best sketchers, drawers and letterers from forty four countries exploded in a riot of watercolours and inks onto my home town. I was a volunteer for the occasion and was inspired more than I could have imagined by meeting some of the artists whose work I had only seen on the internet. A nicer bunch I couldn’t have hoped to meet. I learned how that some judiciously applied text could really enhance a drawing and I wanted to do that.
Having read blogs and watched videos, I dug out three likely pens from our massive and unused archive of artist’s kit, gave them a thorough clean and started to write.
I started by copying some text straight from two of my favourite sketchers work, tried with each of the pens and then used my own words as I just scribbled what was in my head. It’s most defiantly a work in progress but I shall persevere! Here are photos of my few pages from this morning from the very first ‘normal’ text to my more thought out lettering.