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Spencerian Refresher - Crisp Curves and Shades

By Michael Sull

Starting Date : 21 Jan 2023

Fees : HK$ 1,170 or US$ 150

Workshop Description

During the past 40 years since the modern renaissance in Spencerian penmanship began, most instructional programs have focused attention on the letterforms themselves, rather than on the other characteristics that make this system of writing so very unique. The result is that many of today’s lettering artists have found enjoyment in writing Spencerian capitals, but with their own individual interpretation of curvature, shading, and the arrangement of oval forms within the most prominent letters. Thus, for many of us who have been writing Spencerian Script for a while, and for new students as well, now is the perfect time that it will be most helpful to review the significant , although often subtle, key elements of Spencerian penmanship. These are the subjects and techniques that truly allow well-written Spencerian to bring graceful beauty to a sheet of paper.


In our attention to the letters in this program, we will be covering techniques of pen manipulation, aspects of how to capture the beautiful curvature of hairlines and shades, methods of developing muscular control, the benefits of pacing the movement of your writing, developing your ability to see the negative spaces within and around each letter, gaining confidence in the ability to write spontaneously, and the possibilities of creating a sense of individuality in your Spencerian writing without sacrificing legibility. All of these topics are most important to today’s Spencerian students and active penmen to achieve the highest degree of skill from their efforts of study and practice. And all of this is also why our program will be most beneficial for new students who are beginning their journey into Spencerian penmanship.


The format will be four 2 1/2 hour sessions, and our instructional time together will be brisk in order to cover all the topics I have listed in our schedule. My goal in being given the opportunity to develop this program is to offer my students an in-depth focus on what I consider to be the most important elements of successful lSpencerian writing. Rather than primarily focusing on the visual techniques of written letterforms, the subjects I have listed in this outline are truly the most important factors from which all techniques and pen strokes will follow.


Please note that I will also be covering both the lowercase, capital letters, and numerals in this program. And as I have done in our previous three sessions, I will provide ample handouts as well, the contents of which will offer a more thorough understanding of the subject matter at hand. I always have felt that I can only expect the best results from students who seek my instruction if I provide them with comprehensive handouts from which they can find more information than time will allow to me to give in class.


I surely am looking forward to this new program and hope that both new students and working penmen will join me for this Spencerian Refresher!

Lesson 01:  Spencerian Academics: Foundations of the Spencerian System

The Key Elements of Spencerian

  • Curvature: capturing the curvature of hairlines and shades, parent ovals

  • Movement: spontaneity, pacing your writing, coordinating thought and movement

  • Contrast: the dimensions of Spencerian, writing on dark papers with white ink, iridescent and opaque colors

  • Variety:  the governing aspect of Legibility, flourished strokes

  • Individuality: common sense and creativity

  • Negative spaces: developing the ability to see what isn’t there

  • Your Spencerian muscles: developing muscular control, Combination 

  • Movement versus Whole Arm Movement


Spencerian Mechanics

  • Paper Angle, pen angle

  • Letter Angle, letter spacing, letter slant

  • The question of shading and pressure 


Oblique Penholders: what’s it for? What can it do?

  • Traditional versus Ergonomic models 

  • Decision of penpoints

  • The 3-point grip

  • Pen manipulation


Think of Your Ink

  • Walnut Ink, Carbon Inks, Iron Gall Inks

  • Specialty Inks: acrylic, gouache, varieties of iridescent inks



Lesson 02:  The Letters


  • Guide Sheets in Perspective

  • Building Muscle Memory

  • Cross Drills

  • Connected Writing          

  • The Evils of re-tracing

  • Lowercase Letters a-z


Lesson 03: Capital Letters A-L


  • Size and Shape

  • Entry Stroke variations

  • Traditional vs Alternate forms


Lesson 04:  Capital Letters M-Z


  • Traditional vs Alternate forms

  • Numerals

  • Size, Spacing

Note to Students

  •  This is a live online workshop via Zoom (please make sure you have a Zoom account to access the workshop)

  • All live sessions will be recorded and available for 60 days following the final class.

  • All recordings expires on Friday, 05 May, 2023 at 12:00 pm Hong Kong Standard Time.

  • Recommended supply list, handouts, zoom links and recordings are available on the workshop page three weeks (or as soon as practicable) before the first session. Click here for user guide on how to access your workshop page.

  • All workshop dates and times are according to the Hong Kong Standard Time. 

Workshop Schedule

Class 01

Saturday, 21 January, 2023

23:00 pm - 01:30 am (Hong Kong Standard Time)

Class 02

Saturday, 04 February, 2023

23:00 pm - 01:30 am (Hong Kong Standard Time)

Class 03

Saturday, 18 February, 2023

23:00 pm - 01:30 am (Hong Kong Standard Time)

Class 04

Saturday, 04 March, 2023

23:00 pm - 01:30 am (Hong Kong Standard Time)

Refund Policy

All sales are final and fees paid for the online workshop are non-refundable.

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