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Learning Log, Feb 2024

Learning blackletter calligraphy

In honor of Austin Kleon’s “29-day Practice and Suck Less challenge”, I decided to try learning blackletter calligraphy once and for all—specifically Textura Quadrata, the earliest and simplest form of blackletter calligraphy, dating back to 11th century Europe.

As a lefty, any form of calligraphy has not been very accessible to me; lefthanded people generally push their pen across a page, whereas the pull motion is key to calligraphy. I thought it might work out ok if I made my strokes backwards, i.e. right to left and bottom to top. I came across this video and was happy to note I appeared to be on to something!

After looking at a few different resources, I decided to use Jake Rainis’s learning blackletter guides to pick up the Textura style.

A pile of printer papers where I'm tracing over or copying some gothic letters, across the entire lowercase alphabet

I definitely didn’t practice all 29 days of February—had a week of work travel amongst other goings on—but I’m feeling pretty solid with miniscules (lowercase letters) now. I’m just starting to work on majuscules, or uppercase letters. I admit I feel much more intimidated by these!

I’m having fun deploying blackletter calligraphy in my journal for any little thing. And I love how quickly my Pilot Parallel pens use up fountain pen ink; between Diamine’s Inkvent calendars and Pilot Iroshizuku’s huge bottles, I need some help in that department.

Urban Sketching

I joined Urban Sketchers Seattle for a sketch outing in Greenwood. I’ve only been to an outing twice, but I always have such a wonderful time going out and drawing on location with other hobbyists. The trick is to push past the “I suck at drawing, this looks like 💩” phase, to get to the fun mindfulness phase.

This time around I revolted against these grey February days with some obnoxious colors:

Bright orange and pink drawn scenes of a park, including an abandoned toy truck
Scenes from Alice Ball Park, next to the Greenwood library
Bright orange and pink collage of drawings, including a rosemary cretzel, some new flowers poking up, signs for a restaurant called Flint Creek Cattle Co, a brick building, and names of birds contributing bird song
From around Greenwood. I got rained on a little bit.

In any case, I hope to make it out to more outings this year.

More robust screen time rules

In February I downloaded the AppBlock app, which offers more fine-grained configuration of mobile app blocking and screen time than does Apple’s built-in features.

For example, I have Slack on my phone but don’t want to open the app after work hours or on weekends, so I have a block set up for that. I’ve also set up social media app and website blocking on Sundays, and honestly it’s been such a relief to just not have access to these for one day out of the week.

🌱 Digital Gardening

Added two books to Lit Tapes: one I’d read recently (Daisy Jones & The Six, it was ok) and another I’d read a few years back (Wow, No Thank You).

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  • Reply from Sameera on

    @melanie Love these. Just went to my first calligraphy class on Friday. Also, thank you for sharing all of these enshitification of product reads! I’m glad we have a term for it.
  • Reply from Melanie Richards on

    @samkap @melanie ooh what kind of calligraphy are you learning in your class?
  • Reply from Nic on

    @melanie yay!! I love pleinair painting and love to see other folks getting into drawing outside as well ????