It was hosted by the Washington Calligraphers Guild and they were a good group! All very encouraging and welcoming and patient with me and with the one other noob in attendance.
Mike Gold is a charming man and an expert teacher. He is the senior lettering designer at American Greetings (the five hundred pound gorilla that challenges Hallmark for total domination of the Earth) but pursues more creative challenges in his spare time. Thus, this workshop.
My favorite part of the weekend was watching Mike's eyes and face as he stared down, first, at a big blank sheet of paper and second, how he responded to/answered each partially done line or mark. He was constantly reassessing and rethinking and re-planning as he went, continually reacting to the line he had just made, eyes darting around. It was a delight to see this process in action.
The other interesting part of the weekend was watching how the accomplished calligraphers in the class dealt with (or didn't) the challenge of getting loose and intuitive and wild and crazy. 'Wild and crazy' does not seem to be a part of your standard calligrapher's skill set. Are we surprised?
In any event, for my piece at the top (12" x 20") I started with an enormous Chinese sumi ink brush to make the big fat marks. I finished it with some very spidery and thin lettering in the crook of the "n". (Yep, that's an "n".) The sumi brush is a nifty object and the marks it makes are nearly alive, all on their own. I really want one of those brushes but cleaning it is absurd. (How do they do this in China? Are they left sitting in the ink? Dunno.)
The bottom piece (10" x 14') was made quickly, standing at the table (rather than sitting down), using a ruling pen and some skanky brownish black ink+watercolor goo I had mixed up. It was the last thing I made, and hurriedly, on Sunday afternoon. Go figure.