Calligraphy Workshop with Denis Brown

The “Big Project” of Calligraphy
Make a large panel of calligraphy composed of blocks of text set in dynamic contrast.
A 4-5 day workshop with Denis Brown.
Intermediate to Advanced level

Traditional formal panels incorporating a lot of text are a real design challenge if not to appear either dull or chaotic. Effective use of contrast at many levels is necessary to add dynamics and sparkle. This class will be an opportunity to fine tune your eyes to subtlety of space in layout and lettering.

Participants will select a combination of short and longer texts and combine them into a large calligraphy design using scripts of their own choice. We will explore harmony and dynamic contrast between different text blocks within a complex layout. You will receive one-to-one advice on letter-form and layout design. Everyone will also learn from group discussion of all participants works. Instructions will be provided on a special web page for participants to do some preparatory work in advance of the course, to maximize time available in class. This “homework” will involve selecting texts and making a preliminary design. The course will be an opportunity to tune your eye to subtlety of space in layout and lettering. A class for calligraphers with prior experience of a variety of scripts, particularly broad pen but not excluding other styles. 

Instructions for participants plus a gallery of works are here.

Classroom Requirement:

  • Digital LCD projector capable of projection from laptop (Apple Mac-book) preferably at full HD 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution, plus HDMI connection and cable. Possible also via lower resolution and VGA cable/connection.


-Broad-edged calligraphy nibs in a full range of sizes from smallest to largest. Brause, Mitchell, Speedball, Tape are all suitable brands. Automatic pens are good for extra large writing. Bring whichever brands you prefer. 
-Pen-holders suitable for your nibs.
-Fountain pens and calligraphy markers are unsuitable for final work but might be useful for rough-work, so are optional tools to bring, if you like.
-Also bring any other calligraphy pens or brushes you would like to use in your design.
-If you plan to incorporate painted or drawn elements with your calligraphy (optional), bring the tools you need for these. (For example if you want to write on a color-washed paper, bring a large board bigger than your large sheets of paper plus clean sponge and gummed paper tape so you can stretch the paper to keep it absolutely flat after painting. The instructor can help if you have the materials.) 
-HB & 2B Pencils & pencil sharpener.
-A long ruler, circa 60cm.
-Layout pad or practice paper at least A2 size.
-5 large sheets of paper big enough for practice of your full size design, i.e., at least 56 x 76 cm
-5 large sheets of quality paper for your final project, at least 56 x 76 cm. Any hot pressed watercolor paper such as Saunders Waterford, Arches Aquarelle, Fabriano Artistico can be a good choice, or if you like a softer surface, a printmaking paper such as BFK Rives may suit.
-Gouache paints in a range of colors including black, white and the primaries (blue, red, yellow).
(The instructor chooses to use gouache as his ink, but if you have a favorite black ink, then bring that also.)
-Palettes, mixing and loading brushes.
-Finely powdered gum sandarac or kolophonium and a bristle paintbrush brush to apply it. Can be a cheap one such as a small decorators paintbrush. It should be clean, never used for paint.
-Water jars or other containers.
-Masking tape.
-Scalpel or craft knife and cutting board. (The card back of your layout pad can act as a convenient cutting board).
-Glue stick.
-Optional, if you can bring a tabletop drawing board that can be tilted to an angle, this can be comfortable for writing long texts. It should be wide enough for your large sheets of paper. A sheet of plywood propped up against some books or your toolbox may be adequate.
-You are also requested to bring all the texts you select (best to have even more than think you will use) and your preliminary designs. Instructions are here.