When I decided that I was going to take up hand-lettering as my learning project I was full of optimism. I was going to carve out a little bit of time every week to perfect some area of my new craft. It was going to give me an excuse to go to Michaels and buy fancy pens and ink. I pictured myself as a hipster artist with my hands covered in ink, creating priceless masterpieces.
But then I put pen to paper and was shocked by how difficult it was to hand letter. I kind of expected I would pick up the pen and it would just flow out of me. So my initial goal, I set in my first learning post of creating a sign for my upcoming wedding became less and less appealing. It also didn’t help that I hit an amazing sale at Hobby Lobby over February break and bought a beautiful sign instead of having to make one.
I still felt like I needed to create something this week that challenged me in a new way and hopefully would become something I could frame to commemorate my progress and the fact that my university journey is nearly done. So I decided that I would paint my hand-lettering this week. Most of the time when you see hand lettering that has been created using paint you will see beautiful watercolour pieces like this. Watercolour is a nice medium for hand-lettering because of the fluid nature of the watercolours. It is also possible to buy brush pens that you fill with water which provide you with enough control to create beautiful lettering instead of simply using a brush. But the thing to know about using watercolours is that, like hand-lettering, it is a completely other skill that you have to teach yourself in order to do it effectively. And you also need to buy fancy paper and paints to make it work properly. So I chose to embrace my inner Bob Ross and broke out the acrylics and brushes and sat down to paint.
Well, actually I don’t trust myself that much yet so what I actually did first was a pencil sketch in my notebook of what I wanted to letter and then I erased it so that just the faint lines were left behind as a guide for me.
Then I had to practice using the paint and paintbrushes to create the lettering. I experimented with about 6 different brushes of different sizes before deciding on these two.
This is what my practice sheet looked like:
It was tricky to figure out how much paint to use on the brushes. And the brushes I was using weren’t of the highest quality and so the edges of the letters were always a little it feathery. In order to get really crisp lines, I had to barely touch the paper with my brush and load the tip up with paint. It took a while to get the hang of it but it was also really fun.
After doing some practice I painted my hand-lettering and this is what the final product looks like:
It isn’t perfect by any stretch but I absolutely love it! I like that it is so imperfect. There are some sections that were especially difficult to do with the paintbrush, especially the swirly section under “journey”. I could have taken the time to clean it up by outlining it with one of my calligraphy markers but I made the conscious decision to leave it in its raw state because beauty can also be found in imperfection. It reinforces the idea of the quote that life really is an ongoing process and there will be things that happen in ways you can’t control or things that may not work out the way you expected. And that’s ok. There is beauty in the smudges. Beauty in going your own way. And beauty in learning.