Practice makes imperfect

May 11th, 2014, 6pm

It was 21.1°C with scattered clouds. The wind blew strong.

Palette the brush against the lip of the cup. Press down on the heel of the brush to spread the bristles to the width of a letter stroke. The paint should be the consistency of vegetable oil or heavy cream. Turn over the brush and repeat. Repeat again on each side. Drag the brush gently across the top of the lip to flatten the curve created by the cup. Turn over the brush and repeat. Resting your arm on the mahl stick that you’re holding in the same hand as the cup, place the brush on the painting surface and make a stroke. Try to use your shoulder and arm rather than your wrist or fingers moving the mahl stick as you move your brush hand. Rotate the brush slightly in your fingers as you approach the end of the stroke. This will create the proper terminal in a casual letter or help you get clean corners in a gothic letter. For casual letters the brush remains at relatively the same angle throughout a stroke. For gothic letters you’ll rotate the brush in your fingers to create curves. In the case of the o you’ll need to rotate through the entire stoke. Exit the stroke by pulling straight back off the surface. Repeat this process for each stoke of each letter of each word.

It takes a lot of work to make things imperfect. Thinking about every tiny movement is exhausting. But this is only the first step in the long journey to make things less imperfect. The thinking needs to be quieted and converted to muscle memory by the repetition of practice. The letters will never be perfect, but that’s the point. To be able to see the human hand in the work and to appreciate the skill it took to create it. Now that I have a basic understanding of the process and two sample alphabets (photo above) all that remains is practice 1.

  1. Thoughts on taking a two day sign painting class at New Bohemian Signs

Shu, Chris, Christine and Boris said thanks.

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Michael Silva

a somewhat undisciplined existence.

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