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Learning the art of calligraphy

Who would have thought that the art of calligraphy or brush lettering would become so popular at a time when we can do just about anything with computers? When one could simply look up beautiful fonts online and use them to create greeting cards and more? When kids would bring their iPads and stylus pens, if not laptops, to class to take down notes instead of writing with pen and paper? And then all of a sudden, it seems, beautiful handwriting is in once more and profiles of calligraphy artists start to proliferate on Instagram and YouTube.

I have kept my Kuyas calligraphy book all these years, thinking that one day, I’ll be able to learn it myself and even get to buy one of those beautiful gold-tipped calligraphy pens. But I was always hesitant to buy the expensive tool, when I don’t even have an idea how to use it. I remember admiring my brothers’ letterings when I was young, especially at a time when one had to do everything by hand, without the aid of a computer. Yet now, calligraphy books and materials can be easily obtained both online and from various bookstores and stationery shops. Classes are even offered almost everywhere, with one more affordable than the other, even free, especially at YouTube.

Why didn’t I ever ask my brothers to just teach me how to do it, anyway? Or maybe I did, but… Nevertheless, I decided to learn calligraphy the proper way by enrolling in a 3-hour Calligraphy class by Paola Jane Esperon. I learned about her craft when I attended an event for moms and kids last summer, which was sponsored by Smart Parenting Philippines. A short segment on calligraphy was included in the program, with her as the instructor.

The workshop I attended was called Basic Calligraphy with Galaxy. It was held on a late Saturday morning at Kuppa Roastery and Café at BGC. Not having been to the venue before, I was expecting to walk in a private room reserved just for us, but instead, there were just a couple of tables where our class was to be held. Seeing two grade schoolers already seated at our table made me panic a little. I thought I should not just have assumed that the class was for adults and enrolled my daughter(s) instead. Good thing the other adult there, who also happens to be a mom, was also attending the workshop, so that makes us four students of two adults and two kids.

The fee was only PHP2,500.00 and it included snacks and materials. The snacks looked really good, but we were too absorbed with the activities to eat, making the most out of the three-hour class. Paola, being a preschool teacher by profession, was very encouraging. She would praise our work, and was quick to correct us when we’re not doing things the proper way. Moreover, brand new Zig brush pens and water color set as well as Stabilo pencil and eraser were ours to bring home, along with the other materials that were provided during the class.

I definitely learned a lot from the workshop and I was really glad to have come. The calligraphy exercises Paola demonstrated at the Smart Parenting event weren’t much compared to the ones she taught us at the workshop. Plus, we learned some tips that she never shared in public. For one, you should get comfortable using a calligraphy brush first; that way, using calligraphy pens would be so much easier. I don’t remember ever being told that in any of the YouTube tutorials I have watched!

That reminded me also of a time when my sister attended several baking and bread-making classes by renowned (pastry) chefs. I thought she was wasting money, since these chefs shared their recipes in newspapers and magazines all the time, in addition to the cookbooks they have published. Until she lent me the recipes she was given at those classes and I tried making brownies myself, which didn’t turn out quite as well as hers and I was bewildered because I was certain I followed all the instructions to a T. She then revealed to me the secret ingredient(s) and technique(s) that were apparently only shared in class. That, she said, was what you truly pay for in such classes.

Don’t get me wrong; my daughters are living testimonies of learning a lot of things from YouTube. They learned to create various arts and crafts from YouTube, and my eldest even learned about makeup artistry from it. For a self-taught 12-year old, I’d say she’s really good at it. She’s also learning to bake by following recipes on YouTube, but unfortunately, most of the time, she won’t even eat the baked goods she makes herself. If you want to really learn something that you deem important, I suggest you make an investment by going to a paid, or at least, a hands-on workshop or class with limited number of students–one where you could really interact with the instructor, get your questions answered, and be guided accordingly.

Since we are homeschooling, attending the workshop proved to be advantageous to my daughters as well. I was able to teach them the basics of calligraphy, which we have  incorporated in our Art class. With it, I have seen their interest in the art grow, especially Ali’s. She’s already good at art, but now she has become a more versatile young artist, and she has been gifting our friends and relatives with beautiful handwritten cards since then. Moreover, doing art with my daughters never fails to create special moments between us. With this new hobby, we are able to make more fun and artful memories together!

Doing calligraphy or brush lettering, helps me relax. With the demands of my domesticated life and homeschooling among others, however, I am not always able to practice doing it. Most of the time, I would just be content to see my daughters, especially my Big Baby A, perfecting the craft. In fact, she does calligraphy so much better than I do, yet I was the one who attended the class. The most I can do now is critique her work and remind her to hold her brush properly and so on, and yes, appreciate her work.

Below are photos from our calligraphy class and some of my tweener’s works.

food and calligraphy

Tasty snack that I only got to enjoy after the class.

With The Mighty Pao Cat

L–R: My fellow mom/classmate Aileen, myself, and our instructor Paola

basic calligraphy with galaxies

Basic calligraphy + galaxy. Somehow, it was my own penmanship that materialized here, which was normal according to Paola. The name card in the background was made by Paola, by the way, as a souvenir. What a far cry from my work! LOL

Kuppa Roastery and Cafe

Our workshop venue, Kuppa Roastery and Café at BGC. (It was a full house while our workshop was in progress.)

practicing with brush

Going back to the basics after missing practice for weeks – calligraphy using an ordinary watercolor paint brush

practicing with brush pens

Practicing calligraphy at home using a brush pen

Big Sis Ali warming up

Big Sis doing one of the warm-up exercises: m i n i m u m


Calligraphy with Big Sis Ali

One of Big Sis’s brush letterings

birthday card by Big Sis Ali.JPG

Another one of Big Sis Ali’s works

If you would also like to attend a calligraphy or brush lettering workshop, you may contact Paola through her Instagram account @paola_koala. She normally holds her classes in Makati, BGC, and Quezon City. You may also catch her doing demos or exhibitions at Zig-sponsored events.

On the other hand, if you happen to be from the South, there’s also a good brush letter artist you could learn from. She usually conducts her classes in Muntinlupa and Sta. Rosa, and she happens to be a Christian. I heard about her just recently and have started following her Instagram account @artsymargot. ❤

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