Calligraphy and Letterform: History, Methods, and Practice

Calligraphy is visual music, meditative and seismic, capable of conveying personal meaning. Letterform is a blend of structure and movement, and its background reaches back many thousands of years. In this course, students will learn how to write formal calligraphy scripts with confidence. We will begin by learning the basic structures of the Roman alphabet, stroke techniques using pen and ink, and a time-honored grid system for organizing a page layout. We will also cover a contemporary approach to freehand writing with pencil, brush, and marker, focusing on rhythm and spacing, pressure and release, and spontaneous invention. We will study four formal scripts in depth: Irish Uncial, a great beginning hand; the classic upright 15th-century Humanist Minuscule, the basis of our print script; Gothic Blackletter, noted for its structural system and graphic impact; and Italic, our foundation for fluid cursive writing. Weekly assignments will include alphabet practice, small writing projects, and several more complex design projects. Each class session will include live demonstrations of technique, assignment instructions and lecture, and time for feedback and discussion. Exercises will cover correct form, positive/negative relationships of letterforms, visual rhythms, textures and forces, and many other specific aspects of text art and design. By focusing on individual components of the modular scripts, we can absorb a huge subject without being overwhelmed.

Ann Miller


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Online, instructor-led
Feb 7 - Mar 13, 2024
Stanford Continuing Studies