Some practice habits to remember

Or, things I wished I developed a habit of doing from the beginning, and am now trying my best to remember to do.

For calligraphy in general, I need to be better about putting the date on practice papers. At some point I was pretty good about it, but somehow I started forgetting. Taking pictures helps a little, but it’s so much easier to remember when the date is on the page. I found it tedious to write the exact date for things, or I would forget while waiting for ink to dry.

The main reason to note the date of calligraphy practice is to make comparisons between different practice sessions. I’m going to start with writing at least the month and the year. I doubt I will be comparing exact dates, so an estimate of the month and year will probably be enough. It’s also simpler to remember, and I hope it will help me maintain this habit.

When I first started brush pen calligraphy, I noticed online that Rhodia pads were commonly used by many calligraphers. I went ahead and got a Rhodia pad and started practicing English calligraphy. Writing on the pad was not the most comfortable, because at some point, my hand would start dangling off the paper. Somehow it never occurred to me that I should tear the paper off the pad and practice on a single piece of paper. In Chinese calligraphy, I always practice on single sheets.

In Jake Weidmann’s blog post Tools of the Trade: Calligraphy, he specifically writes:

Never allow yourself to write where your hand is elevated above the flat surface, i.e., writing on a pad of paper. This will inhibit proper hand positioning and whole-arm movement.

The first time I practiced on a single sheet of paper felt really strange. I had less control of the pen than usual and had to adjust to it. It got better as I practiced. I’m not sure if I developed any bad habits by practicing on the pad, but I’m definitely not going back. It might get a little tedious having to tear off individual pages from a paper pad, so I might start looking into loose leaf paper.

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