Detail, Walnut ink
Once in awhile I am asked to do something very loose, with words that don't want to be read. These studies for a book cover show the legibility challenges of certain letter combinations. "ft?" "dd?" Fun, yes, but if you want the words to be lively, casual, "natural" and readable from twenty feet away in an airport book display you may tear your hair.
In this case after several trials, the publisher opted for a font instead of calligraphy (alas!) There are things I like about these studies however, and I am posting them as examples of that border zone between "trained" and "untrained" calligraphy. I love working with walnut ink. It is watery and unpredictable within a manageable range, so it usually dries with a nice balance of tones--and it takes to nearly all pens and papers without bleeding. Through the everpresent and much appreciated magic of digital post, I can colorize for alternate effects, and when a hairline gets just a hair too whispy there is the much-beloved burn tool (about 9%/midtones--yes! No more faking it with a microscopic quill that blots just as you think you have the perfectly retouched line.) Other than a few erased smudges and two burned hairlines, these are as they came out of the pen. They are meant to express a "hand" more than a perfection of calligraphic technique, so the blobs and wobbles have not been corrected.
Calligraphic pen studies, © Iskra Design