layered calligraphy demonstration

Tune Up to Play Calligraphy
A two to five day workshop with Denis Brown
Longer duration workshops naturally cover more content
Level: intermediate to advanced

This class will explore the concept of play in calligraphy in the musical sense of the word and we'll take inspiration from a variety of musical analogies.

Musicians PLAY their work; we don't want to hear someone 'work' the cello! In calligraphy the music of ink is recorded in every stroke. Even relatively static lettering of functional applications may transcend careful precision, and become carefree expression of the spirit at play. Non-functional 'polyrhythmic' calligraphy may be as music: a text sung in layered voices where the meaning shifts from a proclamation of the words to an exclamation of the spirit.

Denis will present inspiring lectures and demonstrations to direct your own sense of play in projects you chose to work on. Rather than coaching you in a specific script, he will encourage applying skills you already have towards new creative horizons.


Calligraphy by Denis Brown

Layered polyrhythmic calligraphy will be introduced.

let's play calligraphy!

Find calligraphy everywhere, play it, transpose it, compose it, perform it!



Calligraphy pens, particularly of the 'dipping' kind as distinct from fountain pens or markers. e.g. Brause 'Bandzug" nibs, or Speedball C series, or similar broad edged nibs plus pen-holders.
Pencils; 17″ ruler; scissors or scalpel
A sponge for wetting papers
Black ink such as a bottle of liquid sumi
Gouache paint: some colors plus a black and a white
Paint brushes and palette for mixing paint as well as a paintbrush suitable for making large calligraphic marks, like a flat 1″ nylon brush
Finely powdered gum sandarac
Some plastic transfer pipettes or a glass one
Any other tools you have that can make large calligraphic marks- e.g. sponge-brushes, ruling pens, automatic pens, or even just a household paintbrush
A couple of plastic cups or glass jars large enough to dip your large tools in
10 large sheets of drawing paper (c.22″x30″) which is heavy enough to withstand wetting. (5 sheets will suffice in two day versions of this class).
11 x 17″ pad of practice paper
A pad or several sheets of tracing paper 11″x17″ or larger
6 or more large (c. 22″x30″) sheets of either heavy tracing vellum or (preferably) polyester drafting film. (3 sheets will suffice in two day versions of this class).This is a sheet like tracing vellum but is made of polyester and therefore is waterproof- commonly used for architectural drawings that need dimensional stability. You want one that has a matte translucent surface (not transparent like acetate).






polyrhythmic calligraphy by Denis