Sunday, January 9, 2011

Creativity - sometimes it takes time!

Yesterday I wrote about how creativity can flow; and today I find myself contemplating the flip side. Not the complete flip side when there is nothing happening; just a semi-flip side where creativity gives way to design and involves a lot of steps, planning and testing.

I have begun pondering my new alphabet for a letter a week 2011 and have started to play around with a few ideas. We have set parameters for one alphabet of being ' black and white and a touch of...' and I thought I would start with this one.

We are working with 7cm squares again and I saw in my mind's eye layering of black-inked letters on white, against a black background, with a dash of colour thrown in somewhere. So I began to test it. I'm afraid you get to see it warts and all this time.

I drew up some 7cm x 7cm squares, grabbed some nibs and started writing. Worked out early the big nib was toooo big - the 'a' and 'c' were fine, but anything with ascenders (like 'd' and 'b') wouldn't fit; nor would anything with descenders (like 'p' and q''). I did like the way the letters kind of danced together. Wrote notes to self on the page.

I tested out a few plain letters and size - all looking a bit ugly at this point with poorly formed letters to boot.

I got the nib size right here - one that would work for all letters within the 7cm frame, and began over-writing with different nib styles and sizes. Trying to work out which direction the letters should go in in order to create a balanced look. A few diamonds of colour appeared here as well - testing what the 'touch of...' would be for me.

Beginning to simplify and clarify what's going on; but was suddenly faced with the thought - should the over-written letters just be randomly placed, or should I follow some sort of pattern/order?  The top row is random; the bottom row is planned (except for the massive thick blob that appeared in the fine five-line nib's 'a'!!). More notes to self on the page.

I had chosen to write on a 10cm x 10cm piece of Fabriano Rosapina paper, so that letters would bleed off the page and be cut off etc - I like that look rather than all fitting neatly in a box. So I cut out a frame so that I could see what might be left when I chopped it back to 7cm a 7cm.

I then cut a couple out and stuck them onto a 10cmx10cm piece of black paper. (I folded them before I photographed them, hence the wobbly appearance)

Then I folded them properly and joined them in a lotus flower sort of fold.

So with that prototype under my belt, I think I'm on track to actually start making my letters. I am yet to decide on the random versus organised layout of the letters and which colour to add (red or gold). I'll ponder that a bit more! As a first step I have cut all my white pages and traced the 7cm x 7cm frame onto them whilst the black pages are still waiting for the chop.


  1. you are right-- creativity does not always want to flow- I have good days and not so good myself-- but it does look like you had a good day-- your calligraphy is so beautiful.

  2. I like that you stick with it - and just look what you can achieve with persistence!

  3. Thank you for sharing with us your thought process! I love them all!

  4. Donna - thanks for letting me know we all have the odd 'off' day. This just seemed to take forever! But I was happy with where we got to...

    Ronnie - I sometimes wish I could be better first go; but hey I have to do it slow and stuff up here, and then learn places the letters do dance tho!

    Thanks Jane - I know I appreciate the little insights into people's approaches and processes. Calligraphy always looks so lovely but there is so much background analysis, planning and decision-making going on!

  5. I LOVE where this "slow flow" session took you and as for the "destination": SUPERB!

  6. Fiona, I think this is flow too - just a different kind, like the sort that needs to work its way around the occasional rock or logjam to get where it's going! But it's pretty clear that when it comes to your creativity, the river is full, no chance of it ever drying up, however smoothly or slowly it runs!

    Your tale of trial and error with your letters, and those very lively images, reminded me of storybooks in which letters come to life, and often interact with their own illustrators! Have you ever considered something like this? Apologies if you've already done it (or decided not to)! Fiona's Alphabet...just a thought.

  7. fiona, i took two short calligraphy classes, and learned how disciplined it is and how difficult for me. i admire like crazy how easy you make it look. even in showing your process photos i am surprised how natural your flow of decisions appears.

  8. Hi Anna - I love that phrase the 'slow flow'; it's exactly what it was; not stopped, just slow.

    TT/G - you are very kind! I loved the image of the flow finding its way past rocks or branches in a river...and am sure it will help on other slow flow days. I shall have to explore Fiona's alphabet more- because at times I'm sure they do tell what's what and what's not.

    Velma - thank you. We each develop our skills in our craft and eventually it flows - I watch ceramicists and think I would never have the patience; yet i can stitch all day little stitches and intricate bindings. We work out what's for us I guess, which doesn't stop us admiring the skills of others. I really appreciate that you understand some of the discipline in calligraphy - even after years of practice it doesn't just flow out the end of a pen for me. Thanks!


I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.