Friday, October 4, 2013

Spencerian Zen and Offhand Flourishing

Today I sat down at my cluttered work desk. I didn't have a lot of time to work, I should have been doing other tasks, starting with tidying my workspace but the pen called me! Spencerian Zen is a term my friend Michael Sull used at his Spencerian Saga. We would watch him approach a blank paper and work on a piece of ornamental penmanship from start to finish without any pre-planning or idea in mind for the look of the final piece. It is this process that is the root of true offhand flourishing. I try to tell my students this in as many ways as I can, but the truth of the matter is that while I flourish, I am not aware of any thoughts in my head. As Ralph Kramden would say" they can examine my head, and you know what they will find.......nothing!!!" True Offhand work is not pre-penciled. It is not designed. It just happens.
In this particular piece, I roughly centred the lettering with a chalk line and established my boundary the same way. The capital W was executed rapidly by throwing the stroke away from my body. The rest of the piece was done without interruption and finished in 15 minutes. The process is the reward.
While the pencil has a place in designed work, I was introduced to the art of offhand flourishing without even dreaming that the pencil might have been included in the process. There is a freedom and joy that comes from spontaneous work. In the end, if errors occur or you are unhappy with the result, it is good to know that this is ink on paper and you can try again in your next little window of opportunity.

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