Teacher shows how calligraphy is an art form



Christine Lawrence is getting married in May, and she’s already thinking about her invitations.

She wants them addressed in calligraphy. Rather than hiring a calligrapher, she wants to do it herself.

She was one of six students enrolled in Charleston, S.C., calligrapher Natasha Lawrence’s workshop at the Aiken Center for the Arts.

“I just like the way it looks. It’s fancy,” she said.

Connie Bennett wanted to learn how to add a little flourish to her Christmas cards this year.

Leisa Long wanted to learn another art form. This was her second calligraphy class.

“I love any kind of art,” she said.

The reasons students are interested in learning calligraphy are as individual as handwriting itself. Good penmanship is not a requirement.

Calligraphy is a very forgiving art form when it comes to poor handwriting, Lawrence said.

Letters do not have to be perfect. In fact, imperfections become part of each calligrapher’s style.

The flourishes that make the letters look fancy also hide mistakes.

“I’m not the greatest calligrapher in the world. I’m not, and I’m not sorry about that,” Lawrence said. “My style of calligraphy is my style.”

She teaches workshops all over the Southeast, and often her classes are sold out.
This is the second class she has taught in Aiken. She expects a bigger enrollment for future classes, once people realize a calligraphy class is offered.

“I’m amazed at the interest in calligraphy,” Lawrence said. “I teach it so many places.”

She will teach two more in Aiken on Dec. 13 and Jan. 16, both from noon to 3 p.m.

Students learn first how to hold the pen at a 45-degree angle and how to move their arms to create letters, instead of using their hands the way they’re used to doing while writing.

After several practice strokes of the pen, the lesson moves to letters in Italian italics, which Lawrence said is one of the easiest fonts to learn. Then students learn to add flourishes with a few extra strokes of the pen.

They also get to try out several types of calligraphy pens.

At the end of the workshop, students use their new skill to create a piece of artwork using a wise or wise-cracked saying and a few scrapbook stickers.

Calligraphy is an art form anyone can do, even if they have no artistic ability, Lawrence said, and it comes with positive reinforcement.

Before the recipient opens the envelope, she appreciates that it is special, even if it contains a simple birthday card.

You have given them the gift of your time, Lawrence said.

“The point of doing something like this, even if you’re just addressing an envelope, it’s an art form. It’s drawing,” she said. “And the person who gets that envelope, before they even open it, appreciates the fact that somebody has slowed down enough to handwrite the envelope with calligraphy.”