Blueprint For Foundational

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Revisiting our calligraphic foundations is often a good strategy, especially if our intention is to make room for fresh perceptions and new “builds”. This was true at our October Colleagues program, thanks to Kris MacDonald and Lori Tews, who presented the groundwork and possibilities inherent in Edward Johnston’s teaching hand called Foundational. We thought it best to poll some of the participants to see what they learned.

LYNN OHLHORST “Kris and Lori were dressed as construction workers, wearing yellow hard hats and tool aprons! The idea of building was reflected by Kris’ handout, “Blueprint for Foundational Specs from Our Master Architects”. She encouraged us to research Foundational by reading calligraphy books from our Colleagues library, and as librarian, she brought an array of such books. Kris went on to feature 5 different calligraphers and their structural choices for basic Foundational. The handouts for the day were lettered using a slightly transparent fluid which revealed stroke locations and overlaps. Lori demonstrated 5 progressive steps to creating more and more contemporary versions of Foundational. Kris and Lori put a lot of thought and time into the handouts which were VERY helpful. As we watched, they demonstrated specific aspects, thoughts and techniques needed when working with the Foundational hand.”  

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DAWN DARNER “For me, the absolute EUREKA moment was when Lori talked about how to letter a perfect “s” no matter what calligraphy style you are writing. Her secret is to lightly pencil in the diagonal or slanted first stroke followed by penciled tic marks at 11 o’clock and 5 o’clock. The pen makes the first stroke over the slanted pencil line, and goes on to touch the tic marks with the top and bottom strokes of the letter.”

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RUTH MCCARTHY “The program was wonderful with two great teachers. Kris always teaches in the way of the master scribes, with lots of insight into the proper formation of the letters.  Later, it was fun to have Lori introduce bouncing, ligatures, the Parallel Pen, and a variety of beefed-up strokes while still maintaining proper letterforms.  I have lots of exemplars to have fun with.  Thanks!”

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SALLY WIGHTKIN “Kris and Lori did a super job in the time allowed. They gave us many hints and actual tools (tissue and a 30 degree angle thingy) which we were to take into our own practice.  Both gave many ideas to help us evaluate our own work.  Big take away: I’ve taken several Foundational and simple Roman (teaching hand) classes over many years, and the symmetrical arch was never explained as clearly as this.”

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SUE FILBIN “What I noticed was how quietly absorbed we all were with the process of learning the fundamental strokes that form the Foundational hand. By learning those strokes, we are part of a continuum of people who choose to communicate through beautiful letters.  Our generous teachers learned Foundational from capable teachers, who eagerly learned from someone before them. Each lettering artist diligently practiced, becoming proficient with constructing the letters while developing a critical eye for evaluating the qualities and relationships of those letters.  Through our own quiet practice and studies, our lettering may fulfill Ann Camp’s quote, lettered by Kris on her handout: ‘….rules or principles apply to the study of any craft…in an advanced stage, lettering…should be a personal interpretation which is the result of thoroughly understanding basic principles.’”

A FOUNDATIONAL CLARIFICATION FROM KRIS MACCDONALD:
Another excellent way to study your letter forms is to use a double pencil. Each pencil color shows the right or left side of the pen stroke. In the case of the "o", the purple line and the orange line should each form a perfect circle. The second photo shows the construction of the serif and then the branching with the even curve of the arch starting in the previous
vertical stroke.

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 Gary Feyen demonstrates Chinese calligraphy at October's Demo Corner.

Gary Feyen demonstrates Chinese calligraphy at October's Demo Corner.