Simply Calligraphy: A Beginner’s Guide To Elegant Lettering, by Judy Detrick
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by Blogging For Books/Watson-Guptil Publications in exchange for an honest review.]
Although I am perhaps not the most ideal person when it comes to the practice of calligraphy, which is several orders of magnitude of more elegant handwriting than I am capable of providing on a regular basis, this does make for a fascinating book to read, and one which lives up to its goal of being a beginner’s guide to elegant lettering, with the goal of encouraging the reader onto further reading as well as the practice of calligraphy, while also providing some practical benefit for someone to spend the time necessary to master such an elegant form of writing. As is often the case, this book makes certain assumptions about its readers, and as is frequently the case, I do not fit in with these assumptions , given that the author assumes the reader will be right-handed, as the instruction in the book about slant and the order of forming letters depends on being right handed in order to do well. There are books about left-handed calligraphy, but this is not one of them. Southpaws would be advised to seek handwriting guidance elsewhere.
In terms of its contents, the book is short and its presentation is elegant, making the book a work of artistic design itself. Coming in at under 100 pages, this is not a book whose reading will greatly tax the reader, and both its calligraphy design as well as its font choice are elegant and attractive, with good texture for its paperback cover as well. The chapters of the book are organized in a very logical flow, starting with the tools and materials that one needs to get started (paper and pens, specifically), starting by getting a feel for a broad pen and how it works, and then moving through small letters, capital letters, numerals, and various flourishes that one can make with a pen (including lined paper to help with one’s calligraphy). After this the author discusses some project ideas on how to use such a skill effectively, and then provides some additional alphabets for readers to master, before providing further studies and resources and notes about the author as well as acknowledgements.
This particular book is dedicated to the author’s first teacher in calligraphy, and it makes for a worthwhile first book in calligraphy. Whether or not this book is the last book a reader will tackle on calligraphy depends on whether the reader finds the task of practicing letters and elegant brush strokes to be a worthwhile task to practice at, as skill in this art depends on being able to have consistent lettering in a variety of ways, including the angle lines are drawn at, the spacing of lines, the relative size and position of letters, as well as the components of letters, which in the book are grouped according to different families based on their shape and the pen strokes required to form the letters. Even the reader who may not find the art a worthwhile one to master may at least find this book helpful in appreciating the calligraphy of others. Regardless of how the reader approaches this book, it is an enjoyable one to read and a practical one as well. Readers who want to carry the art of calligraphy further will find good resources at the end of this book to carry on their efforts even further.
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