Learning Calligraphy

Learning Calligraphy

How do I learn calligraphy?

The CSO conducts beginners courses and courses for more advanced students in addition to workshops. The courses are normally in Spring and Fall and are publicized in our website.

Our members also teach calligraphy courses in local schools or social centres.

Several of our members are long standing instructors who also teach privately.

View our upcoming courses and workshops pages or contact us to learn of any upcoming courses in the area for your level, or to make contact with an instructor. We also maintain a list (with their agreement) of those interested in learning calligraphy and we will contact them when we know more information on upcoming courses.

Will learning calligraphy improve my handwriting?

While instruction and practice in calligraphy may benefit your fine motor skills and understanding of the root of the letter forms, most types of calligraphy place the focus on the visual quality of the letters as opposed to speed. There is no shortage of calligraphers that can create beautiful letters but have messy handwriting.

One of the models for modern cursive handwriting was invented by Platt Rogers Spencer, and is thus known as Spencerian, but there are relatively few who are sufficiently advanced to teach it, and it requires a special instrument to write, making it impractical for everyday use.

Spencerian was replaced with the simpler Palmer Method, which can be written using a pencil, fountain pen or ballpoint—but this script is not generally considered to be calligraphic, and so isn't taught by most calligraphers. This is the script that has been taught as "cursive" in Western schools for the past 50+ years.

Another option is to learn a 16th century script called Italic, which can be "sped up" a little for practical use in handwriting, and while it can be written with a monoline tool like a ball-point or pencil, it is more elegant when written with a wedge-profiled fountain pen, which is the case for the majority of the examples on the site.

If no Italic courses or workshops are on offer, your only choice may be to seek private instruction. You can contact us if you'd like to inquire further on the subject.

Where can I buy calligraphy supplies in Ottawa?

Unfortunately, local art stores only have basic supplies.

Most of us buy our supplies off the internet; our links section lists some trusted suppliers you may wish to consider. Contact us if you want recommendations on what to buy or if you are confused by the selection.