When I first started learning calligraphy, I did not really have any goals for what I wanted to accomplish. I practiced because I wanted to, and did not make any hard or fast rules of how I wanted to progress. I let my curiosity dictate what I wanted to learn.
After practicing a couple of different script styles, I did make a small goal for myself. I decided to always do one piece of work before moving on to a different script. This way, I felt that there would be an example of a piece of work, and not just a stack of practice sheets. It did not have to be something that had to be mounted, just something on blank paper and not on practice grids. It also gave me the opportunity to study a few characters very carefully.
Recently I’ve felt a change in my calligraphy practice, and the need to establish new goals. I think my practice has advanced to the point where I can see there are certain things I do want to accomplish.
I definitely want to become comfortable writing on blank paper. When I practice, I start out practicing on grid paper. My copy books have the same grids so I can map out the positions of each stroke. However, if I’m writing an actual piece, it is on blank paper. I see this as phase two of learning a new script.
Phase one involves becoming familiar with the particulars of the script. The grid lines come in handy to better visualize the positions of the strokes. Now that I’m comfortable with some scripts, it’s time for phase two: seeing the characters without the grid lines and practicing without grid lines. To do so means to start studying original works.
I’ve started practicing on blank paper for one of the scripts that I have practiced the longest. In the beginning, it was really awkward. I felt as if I was back to learning the script all over again. But now I can see the benefits in doing so. I am no longer focusing on the grids, but am now focusing on the structure of each character I practice.
I also want to become comfortable with writing a string of characters, not just one. Typically in a practice session, I practice one characters many times to try different techniques to match the copy books. But when I need to write an actual piece of work, I need to be able to write a series of different characters. This could probably be called phase three.
I will need to practice the characters on their own, and then practice writing them in succession. I do not really think it matters if the characters make a phrase or word. The key here is to become familiar with writing different characters in succession, as I would when writing with pen and paper. I’m not sure when I will begin this phase of practice. I’m not sure if it is something I can combine with phase two. But it is definitely a phase I am looking forward to starting when I am ready.