The Art of Chalkboard Lettering: Saturday/Sunday, March 21 & 22, 2020

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The Art of Chalkboard Lettering with Cora Pearl
Saturday/Sunday, March 21 & 22, 2020
$160 members/$200 non-members
Details and registration here.

Peter Thornton points out that “the advantage of drawing letters is that we can incorporate nuance. Nuance, rather than slavish precision, is what breathes life into our letters.” As an aspiring calligrapher, I yearn to attain this “life” in my letters. Whether using a broad edge, pointed or  mono-line pen; the basics are truly fundamental to my lettering arts endeavor. Hoping to master the anatomical structure of each stroke, spacing, pen angle, letter slant etc., paves the road to this “life” I seek. Of course, there is also the elusive act of practice. Carving out the time to ingrain muscle memory into fingers to manipulate the pen and someday actually create these living letters. But first, and last (and in between), there should be formal instruction. Taking classes with calligraphers who, not only teach you the fundamentals, but inspire and motivate you to go forth and breathe life into your letters!

Enter Cora Pearl, a masterful instructor. I was lucky enough to get in on her class, “Uncial with the Broad Edge Pen” at the 2016 IAMPETH conference in Portland. If you’ve attended an IAMPETH conference, you appreciate the effort required with a large class. Instructors don’t always have time to walk the classroom, review each student’s work or discuss a particular dilemma. Cora managed to carve out the time to walk through the class and check on our work AND we got through the entire alphabet. She utilized the overhead projector, mindfully working within the frame and keeping us engaged. Her approach is organic. She is clear, concise, methodical and playful. Uncial can be intimidating because of its rounder and bolder structure, and so M’s and W’s are particularly challenging. Cora addressed this challenge by pointing out that the rounder, joining curves of these two letters should resemble a “baby’s bottom” and not an “older bottom.” Problem solved. I came away feeling pretty darned good about practicing and using uncial as a “definite type” at my fingertips, to quote Edward Johnston.

While I reveled at having experienced Cora’s instruction and charm, I lamented not having access to further instruction by her. She is an inspiring, efficient, mindful, experienced and skilled instructor. Having her here in New York is such a treat! I look forward to her class in Chalkboard Lettering. I envision cards, journal pages, invitations, menus and various art projects using this lettering. I anticipate building on layout and design techniques as well. In my calligraphic quest, branching out and trying new letters and techniques is directly in line with John Stevens’ call to “diverge (expand your vision through experimentation) and converge (learn to use the possibilities, choosing new forms that work and apply them).” Tina Vickers finds that “as you work with different teachers, you may note that the truly inspirational and great ones are not dogmatic about letter-form, technique or methodology.” Cora Pearl teaches in an organic and playful way as to inspire and motivate. I look forward to Cora’s class, especially since she will be here in New York next year!

—Ana Rodriguez

Read an interview with Cora here.
See student work from “The Art of Chalkboard Lettering” at Letterworks 2017 here.

(Artwork by Cora Pearl)