February 2018 calendar

January was a busy month for me and I almost didn’t think I would get around to making this months calendar. I managed to repurpose an existing drawing to get it finished in time!

The drawing is of a native New Zealand Tui bird surrounded by leaves and flowers from a Pohutukawa tree. I currently live in Canada but am originally from New Zealand.  This drawing felt appropriate for February as I have been thinking about home a lot lately. I’m headed back to New Zealand mid February and am excited to see my family, friends, and all the beautiful nature!

February 2018 Calendar Download


Learning calligraphy: the benefits of starting something new

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

The word calligraphy comes from two Greek words stuck together, kallos, meaning “beauty,” and graphein, meaning “to write” — literally “beautiful writing.” — http://www.vocabulary.com

I set myself a goal in January 2017 that I was finally going to learn calligraphy. I had tried many times before. I would find examples on Instagram and Pinterest and set out to recreate similar designs but they never looked right. My letters lacked consistency and the words didn’t flow, and I couldn’t figure out why.

I signed up for a challenge called “Show me your drills” by The Happy Ever Crafter. The workbook would teach the basics of calligraphy without drawing a single letter.

I realized the mistake I had made was skipping the basics. I didn’t understand the foundations of calligraphy. Like most things, you need to learn the basic techniques and rules before you can start breaking them. I had to forget about all my prior attempts and what I thought I knew.

What do I need to get started?

The first thing I needed to do was make sure I had all the tools to get started. Luckily, the workbook had a list of the best supplies and it turns out you don’t need a lot.

I set myself up with these tools:

There are hundreds of different types of pens and paper you can buy but you don’t need anything fancy when you’re starting out. It was also a good way to test if this was something I wanted to continue with, before spending a lot of money.

Practice, practice, and practice

The workbook walks you through all the basic strokes in calligraphy. These are essentially the building blocks. You need to understand what all the pieces are before you can start putting them together. You learn each stroke one by one and practice it to build up muscle memory. Repetition is a big part of learning, you can’t get good at something without practicing it over and over again.

Learning all the basic strokes was my starting point

Connecting the dots

A letter is like a piece of furniture, you need to connect the pieces in the right order before it works. The beauty of learning the stokes first is that you build up consistency. You always pull from the same set of pieces to create the letters so everything looks like it belongs.

Examples of how basic strokes turn into letters

Pulling it all together

The follow-on workbooks for letters and words teach you how to pull all the basic strokes together.

Below are eight different strokes that create two words.

Can you guess the words?

These are all basic strokes that I needed to understand before getting to this point. Join them together and you will see:

Happy holidays!

This was a huge aha moment for me. It can be intimidating seeing the beautiful finished work other people make. But it’s easy to forget the hours of practice they put in before reaching that point. I learned that if you break things down far enough it becomes a much more attainable goal.

I spent the year working my way through all the workbooks. From strokes, letters, words, and then on to adding flourishing and bounce to my letters. To learn something new I needed to start from scratch, like a beginner with no prior knowledge. I’m still learning but I am happy with the progress I was able to make this year.

Beginners mind is a powerful thing. It opens up so many possibilities than if we already assume we know enough.

January 2018 calendar

I’ve been trying to think of a project where I can continue to practice drawing and calligraphy next year. I decided that a great project for 2018 would be a nature inspired calendar. I’ll create each piece the month before, giving me lots of time and a realistic deadline. My goal is that each piece will get better and better as the months go by.

I’ll upload each piece as a free digital download on this blog. Here is January’s winter inspired deer in the nick of time: Download January 2018.