Recently I sent out a survey asking you all what your pain points are with calligraphy and one of the most common responses was “finding the time to practice.” I wish I could tell you I have some magical solution to force you to practice, but unfortunately no one can tell you to sit your butt in the chair and do it. BUT, what I can help you with is a few tips to remove the barriers between you and your calligraphy practice. Here are a few little tips from me to you:
Find supplies and supply storage that spark joy.
Yes, I am obsessed with Marie Kondo and the KonMari method. Who isn’t?! But even before her brilliant Netflix special (that makes me feel so at peace) I felt very strongly about only keeping items in my home that have special meaning or function. I’m always telling my family that memories are in your heart not in your stuff and I (mostly) practice what I preach.
But anyhow, I firmly believe that investing in a few supplies that you LOVE using will make you love practicing even more. For example, if you’ve been using a plastic Speedball pen holder but are eyeing a beautiful wood one or something brightly colored and fun, invest in it! Practically speaking, I generally find it is good to have a few different pen holders that are fitted for different nibs so that you aren’t constantly adjusting your flange every time you switch. Also, there are different kinds of pen holders (like the carrot) that support different pen grips. You may find that trying one of these makes your experience more comfortable and therefore more joyful.
The same goes for your storage system. I use a kind of art supply bin that is in my alma mater’s colors, maize and blue, that I love. It’s practical and it can travel anywhere around the house and have everything I need inside. There was a period of time where I was working from the tiny table in my kitchen instead of in my basement studio so that baby could be resting in the swing nearby within eyesight. Having a supply bin helped me be flexible and not make all of the setup and cleanup feel like such a chore when I had so little time to practice or work during his naps.
Schedule Practice Sessions
I know calendarizing isn’t everyone’s forte, but I’m a huge believer in using both my paper planner and a shared family Google calendar to set myself up for success. With a baby scooting around, work, meals, and trying to spend at least 5 minutes of quality time with my spouse a day it’s hard to find time to even shower. I get it. Time is hard to come by. So here’s my suggestion – set a 2 hour block for yourself each week in your calendar to practice calligraphy. Whether that’s after the kids go to bed, in the middle of a lazy Sunday afternoon, or early in the morning before everyone gets up, just commit to making it a habit. I find that once I’m actually practicing time flies by and I’m so glad I did it. I think that you’ll find that you look forward to this time to yourself to be creative.
Get Back to Basics
If you only have 20-30 minutes and whipping out all of the supplies doesn’t feel worth it (I have this struggle all of the time), then get out pencil and paper. Pencil and paper have no clean up and are just as valuable as spending time with the nib and ink. You can trace the exemplar of a style you are learning, test out flourishing styles, or even just sketch. All of these things will help your muscle memory and loosen up your hand to keep you in the practice of making the motions of letters and flourishes.
Make Your Supplies Visible
Keep your supplies in a place that you pass by regularly so that you are reminded to take some time and practice! Sometimes we just need a visual reminder instead of it looming in the back of our heads then getting distracted by the pile of laundry (or dishes, or blah blah blah). Here are some of my recommended supplies.
Some of these things may seem like a no-brainer, but since it seems to be a big pain point with a lot of you I thought it was worth writing about just in case it resonates. I also think that if you love something and are dedicated to it, then you will WANT to practice and you will make time for it. If you truly never want to practice, then maybe your heart isn’t in it and you should try a new hobby! Or just have a glass of wine and watch some Netflix. That’s ok too.
Were any of these tips helpful? Are you going to be taking any action to dedicate yourself to your practice? I’d love to hear how you keep yourself accountable!
In case you missed it, here are some other posts that may be of interest!
How to Mix Gouache to Make Custom Ink Colors