Michael Sull: Advanced Ornamental Penmanship

Advanced Ornamental Penmanship
Michael Sull
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
All day

The goals of acquiring an advanced level of skill in Ornamental Penmanship include gaining a thorough knowledge of standard and alternate letterforms for both Lowercase and Capitals, plus the magic ingredients of mastering the manipulation of Curvature and Negative Space. Knowing these elements - Curvature and Negative Space, opens up endless possibilities for the penmanship artist. The ability to spontaneously envision directional paths of curvature, plus being able to overlap, intersect, parallel, and spiral curves, as well as determining balance in a composition, create degrees of contrast and add a sense of emotion throughout a written text. These skills enable the artist to basically go anywhere on a sheet of paper and turn a type-written text into a most expressive example of visual language. These are the hallmarks of superior ability in the realm of Ornamental Penmanship. Our class will focus on the fundamental techniques to understand and manipulate Curvature, both with letterforms and flourishing. I will explain and demonstrate how to achieve the spiraling of letters that I refer to as “Super Twisters”, the methods to artistically flourish letterforms, and how to create the complex patterns for what I call “Masterpiece Flourishing”. These are all related by the concepts of Curvature and Negative Space. I will also explain the techniques of creating Spencerian Monograms; these, too, are related as mentioned above. There will be a class project. Please Note: this is an Advanced Level Class; participants must already posses a competent degree of skill in pointed pen lettering; either Spencerian, Copperplate, or Engrosser’s Script. 


Oblique penholder with at least one extra point. Your favorite ink for pointed pen writing. #2 pencil, or mechanical pencil. Plastic or vinyl eraser. 2 colored pencils (a different color in each pencil). Graph/grid paper; prefer either 1/4” or1/8” grid. Lined paper for practice, such as lined Rhodia, Clairefontaine, or 24lb. quality inkjet or laser paper on which you have lined with your computer.

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