I’m an Art-Class-aholic
Hi, my name is Susan, and I can’t stop signing up for art and calligraphy classes! Ever since I jumped back into calligraphy practice about a year ago, I’ve been taking classes both online and in-person, as often as I’m able. Every time I see a new class being offered, either by a master calligrapher, or a watercolor artist, I can’t resist.
Last summer, when I was trying to learn calligraphy so I could do name cards and invitations for my daughter’s wedding, I took a local class in Roundhand Engrossing script with Rick Paulus, who used to be an official calligrapher for the White House. I was absolutely star-struck, and dove headfirst into this gorgeous script. At the end of the class, someone asked what we should do next, and Rick responded, “Practice for ten years.” That’s what I should have done, but instead I got excited about taking even more classes, in different styles.
I loved Gemma Black’s class on Versals, which I fell in love with instantly. I found Versals to be much more forgiving and accessible than copperplate, and began using it all the time. (thus letting my copperplate skills get very rusty!)
I took an online copperplate class with the wonderful Younghae Chung. Her videos are clear, patient and beautiful. One of the nice things about online classes is the ability to see letters formed close-up, and to be able to repeat them over and over again. (oh, is THAT how you make those perfect squared-off tops!)
One of the great things about taking online classes is meeting other calligraphy enthusiasts from all over the world. When one of my copperplate classmates started posting beautiful watercolors on her Instagram account, I immediately wanted to try THAT, and that’s how I ended up in Melanie April’s amazing watercolor classes. They are so affordable, and result in magical paintings pretty quickly. I took 3 classes from her: her Feathers class, her Wonderland class, and a florals one (which I haven’t quite finished). She is incredibly generous, and often shares free tutorials on her blog. I love her “wonderland” technique which has allowed me to make some beautiful paintings for friends
That class led to an astounding FREE online watercolor class where I learned how to paint peonies from Becca Courtice at the Happy Ever Crafter. I was so hooked after a week of this, that I moved on to her very affordable floral bouquet and letters class.
One of my very favorite online class experiences has been with Anne-Davnes Elser. Unlike the other classes, she teaches her classes in “real-time” via Google Hangouts, which for me means (yawn!) getting up at 6:30 to take her 7:00am Flourishing class. (I also took her Open Shaded Script, equally fantastic) It’s great to be with other students (some of them in Asia, late at night) and to get feedback on our work right away.
Next up (I’m so excited) I’ll be taking two back-to-back local Friends of Calligraphy classes with world-renowned calligrapher Peter Thornton: Folded Pen and Illustrated Letters.
The great thing about the availability and accessibility of so many classes is the endless opportunities to learn and grow as a calligrapher and artist. The down side is that I feel like I’m constantly jumping around and not allowing myself to really develop as an expert in one thing. I’m not going to worry about that, for now, though. I’m still a beginner in everything, and I’m excited to try out all of these wonderful techniques. Maybe I’ll settle down and practice just one thing, one of these days (don’t count on it, though!). I know from Instagram that many people commit to a #yearofcopperplate or a #yearofwatercolor, to the exclusion of everything else. I don’t think I’ll ever be a monogamous artist, whose work has that recognizable consistency. But hopefully through the generosity of all of these amazing mentors and teachers, I’ll just keep getting better.