Calligraphy: A Scribe's Notes Art Blog
Nothing is more frustrating than trying to work and feeling like you are fighting a battle. Many factors must be considered when ___things just aren__™t working right.___ Here are a few things you may want to check: Paper Quality and Surface Fluid Posture Pen Nib Temperature Light Pencil Humidity ConcentrationPaper: High grade, archival, all cotton artist__™s papers are best. I like, Arches Text Wove, Arches 90lb hot press watercolor paper, Diploma Parchment, Canson Ingres and Mi-Teintes. Fabriano and Twin Rocker both make excellent papers a well. Many papers made for commercial printing are also good. Check the surface to see if there are any bumps or lumps that should be scraped off. Good papers that have a ___tooth___ or irregular surface can be great, especially for brush, but keep in mind the pen will not give you super fine lines on these papers but more of a rustic look, which may be exactly what you want.
Fluid: Ink: acrylic, walnut, sumi, metallic, pearlescent or concentrated dye. Acrylic paint, gouache, and watercolor, each will have their own personalities. If the fluid won__™t flow off the pen in a reasonable and consistent manner it may be too thick. One drop of water at a time until you reach the right consistency will usually remedy that. Remember, as you are writing, your fluid is evaporating, from its container and from the nib, so you may have to check if it needs water. Fluid that is too thin can be left to stand and evaporate down to the right consistency but that can be time consuming. If you use thinner inks like Higgins Eternal, put some in a separate jar and mix in a drop or two of Gum Arabic. The gum will help it to cling to the nib and not run off so fast. If you use gouache regularly, when it dries out you can reconstitute it with water, but keep in mind, as the water is evaporating out of the paint, so is the binder. Replacing that lost Gum Arabic (a drop) now and again and it will keep the paint from getting crusty.
Pens: Is it brand new? You may want to clean it with a little soap and water to get the oil off. Is it the right size for the writing style you want? If it__™s an old favorite, is it clean from the last time it was used? Mitchell nibs will often need a reservoir when using ink, but not with gouache. After a surprisingly short time, ink or gouache will accumulate on the nib in thin layers and before you know it your nib is half again as thick as it was when you started. Clean off that buildup regularly especially with acrylic inks.
Graphite: If pencil lines are too heavy and done with a soft pencil, graphite can accumulate on the pen nib, mixing with the ink and making it thick.
Temperature: If the temperature in the room is above 80__ the individual paper fibers may be swelled enough to affect your writing, creating a ___drag___. The opposite is also true. Below 55__ fibers tend to contract, sometimes resulting in a skip. Ink too, will flow slower at colder temperatures and vice versa.
Humidity: The big battle. Humidity between 30% and 55% is ideal. A small humidistat is available for a reasonable price. Keep both a thermostat and a humidistat in your workplace. If the paper is warm and moist the fibers are doubly swollen, making the paper soft and bits are easily picked up by the pen and dragged around. Moist fibers will suck up ink and cause it to spread on some papers more than others. Try gouache. It can be mixed thinner or thicker depending on the components at play.
Posture: It__™s so easy to slump, put your chin in your hand, cross your legs, and where are your elbows? Sit up to open your diaphragm and put you at a better visual distance from your work. Check to make sure your work is in front of you, it__™s easy especially with longer lines and end up with your hand and elbow too far to your right. A protective sheet under your hand will help keep your skin oils from transferring to the paper and making it difficult to write halfway down the page.
Light: Do you have any? Has the sun gone down since you started? You know what your mother would say and she__™s be right. I prefer concentrated light from a task lamp over lights in the ceiling or regular household lamp.
Concentration: The single hardest thing is to clear your mind. Shut the door turn off the phone, and the blackberry and the pager and the TV and the iPod. Fighting kids, barking dogs, construction, the doorbell, all pull us away from the place we need to be to do our best work. Threaten or bribe if you must, but ask for a little quiet. The sign on my studio door says, ___Do not disturb unless blood or fire is involved___. Make sure your family and friends respect your needs. An unwanted visit from a friend bursting in ___I just have to tell you this one thing...___ can ruin the whole deal.
Just one or a combination of all these factors could be the cause of your trouble. If you have any other tips or a question, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org