If I have a child who wants to learn calligraphy, here is where I would start them on day 1.
Because it will improve movement and sharpen the eye for composition like nothing else.
Pictorial flourishing training will change how you flourish script and think about the kind of harmony that is possible on paper.
You are "advanced enough" to learn offhand flourishing if this is your first day with pointed pen.
Because the building blocks of offhand flourishing = ovals + compound curves.
There is NO prerequisite for the course.
I will walk you through these basics in detail with my left and right hand.
You will learn how to arrange these two elements into quills, birds, swans, stags, and more.
You will develop a critical eye for composition after analyzing hundreds of exemplars in depth.
Now, I know you may share these common sentiments about pictorial flourishing:
(1) "I don't like birds all that much. What's with all these birds?!"
The truth is: I still am not obsessed with birds. I also didn't get why there were SO MANY birds in offhand flourishing.
But here's the thing: it is really not so much about drawing birds but about the FEELING and freedom of composing a bird, which lends itself to the shapes we are familiar with in script: ovals + compound curves.
We are really here to enjoy a dance that results in the shape of a bird. The bird flourish on paper is like the track the figure skater leaves on the ice.
The art is actually in how you are communicating with your body and how you bear witness to what your body is capable of creating. That is the site of joy and where the flourishing really happens.
(2) "I'm not that artistic. I don't have experience drawing anything."
So...I don't remember drawing any birds before I started offhand flourishing.
Yes, you will need to spend some time getting acquainted with the heads, and anatomical shapes of all animals you want to flourish.
But don't let your perceived ability to draw hinder you from offhand flourishing.
I have included in the handouts pages of each body part so you can narrow it down in your practice, with plenty of ideas to develop your own. Once you learn what your bird head looks like, the rest is not about your sketching ability but your ability to arrange ovals and compound curves.
Here's the best way to get started:
Rather than pausing sped up videos to figure out how each stroke is positioned,
or sticking to the same bird in the only orientation you know,
or copying from the Ornate Pictorial Calligraphy book by E. A. Lupfer (very good resource btw),
you will learn how I studied the curated exemplars and what I extracted
so I can create freely beyond the archived flourishes, and express whatever I want to my heart's content.
We will do an in-depth study of over 120 exemplars on birds alone.
You will understand how to effectively and aesthetically apply your understanding to other animals.
Lefties, I will be demonstrating for you with my left hand as well--to the best of my ability.
You may come with the goal of learning offhand flourishing to meet the challenge, and, let's face it, impress "other people" (been there, done that).
But my goal is that you will leave with the tools and desire to express yourself for yourself through offhand flourishing. This skill can become an invaluable way for you to listen deeply to your body and articulate what you cannot with words.
Before you look through the kind of work we will be doing in the course and feel intimidated
or overwhelmed by the number of lines,
I want you to see how fast my students were able to progress in my previous offhand
With the foundation of bird anatomy, we will study 29 examples of bird heads alone. You will understand how to adjust the proportion between the head and the body to flourish expressive and harmonized birds.
What happens on the micro-level impacts the flourish as a whole. From quill tips to bird claws, I will guide you through these smallest details with clarity and depth.
You will learn the difference between drawing and flourishing. I will take you through the critical decisions I make when I translate my sketch into flourish.
You will understand how to create
dynamic birds in motion so your flourishes can be freed from that same bird in that same orientation every time.
We will strengthen your composition muscles by analyzing examples of pictorial flourishing pieces and pieces that combine text and pictorial flourishing.
Understanding consistent stylistic choices of each penman will inspire you to identify how you may develop your own. I will take you through multiple examples from each penman with this specific purpose in mind.
This class is NOT for you if you are:
-expecting to copy flourishes
-looking for exact measurements and guidelines that will yield a "good" flourish
-unwilling to face the frustration of creating A LOT of ugly birds & other animals before you hatch a pleasing image
-not interested in composition analysis
This class is the right fit for you if you are:
-opened to the creative process, which includes a lot of trial and error, a lot of "ugly" pages,
and a lot of internal work with your fears and self-doubt
-afraid of moving your arm but you are making the commitment to do so anyhow
-curious what it feels like to compose on paper
-opened to accepting imperfection as a permanent state of being human
Now, let's address what's on your mind: "It's so expensive!"
I hear you.
What I can tell you is that I will deliver value beyond common practice. I honor your decision to invest in yourself by investing in your progress personally and emotionally many times over.
You are not purchasing flourishing variations to copy that set you up for the same old boring results. You are committing to developing and strengthening your thought work, and learning how to think on your fingertips to flourish the dance you feel inside.
My advice to you, as a student who must also make frequent decisions about who/how to invest for my education, is to make your decision from the perspective of your future self 3 months from now.
Where would you like to be on your flourishing journey? Be curious and invested in your becoming whether or not you choose to join this course.
Make decisions not from fear but from hope.
If you are wondering how much time you would need to allocate every day for practice, I encourage you to consider practice as meditation. If we are fully honest with ourselves, our attention span is usually not the x-number of hours that we often force ourselves to commit to. I advocate always for mindful practice and ending the session as soon as you notice you are frustrated and distracted. It is not about flourishing a ton. It is about your willingness to take greater risks while being fully present.
If you have never taken my courses, and are unsure how much I can really help you, you may consider scheduling a private lesson with me to see the kind of progress I can help you achieve in one hour.
If you believe that you owe it to yourself to learn it yet again on your own, know that choosing this course does not mean surrendering your abilities to figure things out. We seek education not because we are completely helpless on our own but because the right guidance can significantly increase the breadth and depth of what is possible for you to figure out.
If you believe that you are not advanced enough to best take advantage of this experience, know that if you know how to draw a compound curve and an oval (I will be covering these concepts in the first modules), you are advanced enough for this course. The growth of my students over the years have shown me that where you think your skill level is is not what prepares you. The students who progress the fastest take the leap with their doubts.
If you've always wanted to flourish and want to make a commitment to make it your reality, I've got your back.
Further questions: Please email me at [email protected]
"Maybe I can figure out flourishing on my own?"
I invite you to consider: Why haven't you done so already? What are you planning to do differently to figure it out? Will more of the same accomplish anything? Take advantage of my expertise to expand the parameters of what you can figure out.
I have taken/am taking another flourishing course, but I still find myself considering this course. How will I know my investment be worth it this time?
I invite you to consider: Have you learned from your current course how to create forms that are NOT on your handouts? does your work look like yours or your teacher's? If you hesitated, you can benefit from my course which focuses on how to think, not how to copy.
"I am still working on my letterforms. I want to wait till I am ready for flourishing."
Take a look at your own Instagram feed and practice sheets to see how much you have attempted flourishing anyhow. Learn to do it right if you are doing it anyways in secret. Flourishing is not the graduation gown of letterforms. The hierarchy you are buying into where flourishing is harder, that you should learn it "after," is a lie. If I could have watched and rewatched these modules when I was a complete beginner, I would have. Because it would have helped me extract so much more information when I studied flourished pieces and experimented with layout.
How will a beginner benefit from this course?
Both beginners and advanced students will benefit significantly from this course. For beginners, this course will demystify flourishing and you will be able to apply what you learn immediately in your layout and ability to analyze and extract knowledge from the exemplars you study. As you have unlimited access to the course as long as I continue to offer it, you can return and review as you grow as a calligrapher and realize something new every time.
Is it really possible for my flourishing to have my own style? Isn't it safer to copy?
It is not only possible. It is inevitable. You are unique because you are you and there is no reason why your flourishes should/would look like anyone else's.
Do I need to know Spencerian or Engrosser's Script to take the course?
As this course focuses solely on pictorial flourishing, I will not be placing an emphasis on script styles or critiquing letterforms. I will speak to the relationship between pictorial flourishing and text, but no prior knowledge of script is necessary.
Master Penman Connie Chen is the youngest Master Penman in the world, and the only one recognized for her skills in Engrosser's Script, Ornamental Penmanship, and Offhand Flourishing by both Senior Master Penman William A. Lilly and Master Penman John DeCollibus.
A current graduate student at Harvard University, Connie apprenticed to Senior Master Penman William A. Lilly, who earned a Gold Seal Certificate at the Zanerian College, the top award given by America's leading school of penmanship and engrossing. With more than 20 years of experience in English and Chinese calligraphy, Connie creates art that transcends the boundaries of geography, culture, and time.
After providing detailed feedback to more than 2,000 students in over 5 years of teaching calligraphy courses online, Connie knows intimately what students struggle with in each script. Her attentiveness to detail and devotion to her students have consistently produced significant progress in their work.