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Calligraphy with Kids!

It was cold, wet and windy last Friday but I was given such a happy and warm welcome at Kingswood Primary School. I was so honoured to be asked to teach a lettering workshop, in celebration of World Book Day to the children. My plan was to show then how to draw lettering which can tell a story.

The day started with me showing the whole school my illustrated journals and ways that I like to tell the stories that happen in my life with words and pictures. I showed them lettering which told the story of our holiday in Italy with the words and letters morphing into plates of spaghetti, cones of gelato and turquoise blue swimming pools. The children especially liked the illustrated accounts of when my daughter found a wild rabbit by the toilet and the illustrated toilets of campsite in Italy! Toilet humour basically!!

I showed them some calligraphy with different types of pens and then demonstrated to the older children (ages 7-11) how to bind two pencils together to get a pretend broad each nib and then how to write with this on the visualiser. The children really loved the 3D effect the pencils made. So, then brandishing their own pair of pencils, the children set out to generate their own lettering. We did not do use any calligraphic references as I was keen to see what the children came up with and the results were fantastic!

Using two pencils was tricky for many children and especially those who naturally held their pens/pencils at the steep angle. Getting both pencils to touch the paper at the same time was a challenge!

After lunch, the Children linked their calligraphy to The Lost Words, a beautifully illustrated book celebrating words from nature that were taken out of the Oxford Junior dictionary. These words included: Acorn, Adder, Lark, Bramble, Magpie, Wren, Dandelion.

The children choose some of the words to write out with their two pencils on good quality, thick cartridge paper and then coloured them in using shading and blending techniques with watercolour pencils. Some children created the lettering in negative by shading the outside then blending carefully with some water and a small brush. After the paint dried, the graphite pencil lines were rubbed out.

I love the way that the children have really captured the essence of the words they are writing...the feathery, black and white of 'magpie', the smooth, round, woody shapes of 'conker', the fleeting, darting, fly-away 'g' in 'kingfisher' are a feast for the eyes! In the pictures below, you can see one young artist and his inspired idea to blow the wet paint the create the creeping growth of the ivy.

I was really inspired by the free thinking that the children demonstrated which I know I can use in my own work. It's easy to become stuck into one way of doing something but seeing so many brilliant ideas in one room and such freedom of expression was heartwarming. The future of the hand lettering is safe!


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