Is calligraphy easy?

I often try to encourage students to practice calligraphy on their own. Just as often, I receive replies that "Copperplate is too difficult" or "traditional scripts are impossible". 

So was learning calligraphy easy for me at the beginning?


As you might have already read, I picked up the pen on my own, bought a copy book, and started self-learning copperplate. I recall the enthusiasm I had, thinking of how gorgeous my writing would be after a few days. I read the copy book end to end in one sitting and decided to go ahead with the writing. After all, the book made it sound so simple.

Within 2 days, I gave up on calligraphy. 

After a few weeks, I decided  to try again. Surprisingly, after my hiatus, I felt that I could write pretty well! I am not sure what happened during this break (perhaps my expectations dropped), but it was only after giving up that I found myself able to write. It was as though I had to first break into pieces before I could be mended with gold. 

One of the earlier pieces of mine. Notice how ugly it looks.

One of the earlier pieces of mine. Notice how ugly it looks.

This pattern continued every time I wanted to learn a new script. When I wanted to learn spencerian, I bought the books (woo!) and went straight at it, thinking: "I have learnt copperplate. How hard can an un-shaded script be?"

I promptly gave up on spencerian. 

It was only 1 year after I bought the books and gave up that I decided to pick it up again. This time, I found it much easier to learn the script. I have since made some progress, and am proud of where I am right now. 

My first spencerian post on this account. Notice how ugly it looks.

My first spencerian post on this account. Notice how ugly it looks.


Yet it puzzles, this phenomenon. Could it be because my eyes are trained better and therefore I am able to identify important aspects in a script such as angles and curves? Could it be that my arm is able to wield a pen more proficiently? Are my expectations really dropping?

 So my answer to the initial question is this: No, calligraphy was never easy at the beginning, and still isn't whenever I want to learn a new hand. 

P.S While making this post, I had to scroll all the way to the bottom of my Instagram profile. Along the way, I saw posts that I felt (at that time) were very pretty, but just look plain hideous now. And so I guess calligraphy is similar to life in general: We grow slowly and never notice it... but when we look back, we see how old we've become (and how much better looking in some cases [not in my case though]).

On a more serious note, this is only my opinion... go let your calligraphy journey be easy if that's what you want to do. ;) 


@YakiUjohn the umami