Tuesday, April 28, 2020

Easy Layout Tutorial

I have been enjoying the Live Chats on Instagram that have been hosted by the European Pointed Pen Collective. You can view some of the past videos here. Sunday's chat was with Dr. Joe Vitolo. Back in 2003, when I was trying to figure out all of the nuances of the pointed pen ( without the help of Instagram or Youtube all those years ago) Joe was instrumental in advising me how to proceed and introducing me to IAMPETH. Through IAMPETH, I met my mentors and my dearest friends and really changed the course of my career path as I eventually became a professional calligrapher. Joe's words of "pay it forward" have really stuck with me. This little tutorial is my way of sharing with you during this difficult time. I want you to continue to find joy in the journey as you put pen to paper and expand your skills. Maria Helena gives a very inspiring LiveChat which is also available on the EPPC's website. My method for layout is very simple. I mainly use a centred layout or a left justified. My method for layout it "old school" having learned it from Michael Sull during one of my early times at The Spencerian Saga. I choose to continue to use this old school method as it really helps me to work out the nuances of the words as well as embed the wording in my head. I am someone who needs to experience the rhythm of the writing and see how the words unfold on the paper in front of me.
 Once my text is determined, I choose the script as well as the guidelines I want to use. This particular commission was to be done in Spencerian Script. The guidelines I used were Michael Sull's Handwriting Sheet A. I write the words using the guide sheets on layout paper to get a measurement of how long each line will be. I do this stage in ink rather than pencil.I want the layout to be reflective of the materials that will be used in the final piece. This first time writing also helps me to become fluid and familiar with the words as I write them.
I  also get a sense of how the lines will interact with each other. Once the words are written, I measure each line as well as the height of the written piece. This helps me to determine the size of the paper I will need for my layout. The paper choice for this piece was a 9x12 sheet of Stonehenge Aqua Cold Press Paper. I wanted a little bit of texture on this design. I used McCaffery Black ink and watercolour for the Victorian Line and Wash Technique of the florals.
Next, I will pencil a centre line on my guidesheet as well on my art paper.
The centre pencil line serves as a registration mark for me. On this  particular piece, I also drew a pencil line of an oval as a boundary for my border flourish. I use Scotch Repositionable tape and to adhere the guidesheet to the art paper. The Scotch tape will not leave any residue on the art paper and will not damage the paper when it is removed.
Using a light table and my measured lines of text I will pencil the baseline for each line of the composition. I use a stainless steel ruler that has very clear markings so my measurements can be precise. The simple process is to make sure you divide each line in text in half so it will be correctly centred on your art paper.
Once the pencilled baseline is in place, I will write the text in Spencerian Script while the guidesheet is being illuminated through the light table. This will allow you to maintain proper slant as well as finding the correct ascender and descender height. But it will also allow for a certain freedom in writing. You don't want your guidesheets to become iron bars for your text. They should gently guide without being overly restrictive.
The lettering is always done first. Once I am happy with the lettering on the art paper, I will proceed with the flourished border. My flourished borders are not preplanned or pencilled beyond the oval line that is drawn. I prefer the true offhand method of flourish which means my border is visually balanced rather than formally balanced. A formal balance would mean that each side is identical. I prefer the more organic and lively look of a true offhand flourished border.
If you have tried the wreath and the heart in my previous blog tutorial, I would encourage to you to try a larger layout and design. The oval border is a great project with lots of opportunity for flourishing.
I did not have an oval template that was large enough for this piece but there are many that you can find online and print out to serve as your guide. Let me know how you do with this tutorial. I would love to see your work! Pick up the pen and flourish my dear friends. You can email me at heather@heathervictoriaheld.com if you want to chat or if you want more info about private tutorials online. Sending hugs all around.

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