By Keng Hui Yuen
The idea of writing may haunt most people, but you would need to rethink about this when talking about calligraphy.
Calligraphy, which makes a combination between art and writing, gives great aesthetic pleasure to the calligraphers in their daily life.
We can say that the purposes of handwriting are clarity and speed while calligraphy strives to achieve beauty, personality and artistic impact.
Using a penholder and nib as tools of writing, modern and traditional calligraphy perform differently in the method of writing and letter forming.
Traditional calligraphy is usually bound by more rules and aims for precision. In contrast, there is more freedom in modern calligraphy for expression and rhythm.
A research and development engineer by profession, Kong Pui Yee, 30, who is also a local part-time calligrapher, started calligraphy as her hobby two years ago and is now conducting workshops on calligraphy writing for the public.
“I find the contrast between the thick and thin strokes in modern calligraphy very beautiful and very relaxing.
“Calligraphy is not just about writing, there is a technique to it. I have to study the example of the script, and it helps me to become more focused and pay attention to the details, especially for the more traditional script.
“Traditional calligraphy is more structured than modern calligraphy, taking Copperplate which is one of the traditional calligraphy as an example, it is supposed to have the same distance between each letter,” she said.
Pui Yee said it depends on the script as well because there are many more scripts under the category of traditional calligraphy.
“There are more rules in traditional calligraphy, not as much freedom as in modern calligraphy.
“For modern calligraphy, you can learn the basic and keep practising, and eventually, you can develop your own style, hopefully,” she said.
Pui Yee said some people believe that by learning traditional calligraphy first, it would provide a better foundation for modern calligraphy and how the modern letters can be formed.
However, Pui Yee opted for the latter, where she started with modern calligraphy before moving to traditional calligraphy.
“I would say by having traditional calligraphy as a fundamental, it can build a better foundation for modern calligraphy,” she said.
Pui Yee added that she improved herself through teaching and organising monthly workshops in Penang and Kuala Lumpur.
“As I taught more and more classes, I learnt more about these scripts and the potential problems the students might face and how to explain to them better,” she said.
She has been organising monthly workshops of modern calligraphy and brush lettering until now, which has seen more than 200 students’ participation.
“I hope the interest in modern calligraphy will stay for quite some time because it is a very beneficial hobby that one can pick up,” she said.
Wong Jo Yee, 28, another part-time calligrapher who has been practising both modern and traditional calligraphy for around two years said she is interested in any form of arts including calligraphy which is a visual art related to writing.
Being a self-learner, she used calligraphy to express her feelings in daily life.
“Life sometimes is really dull and calligraphy adds colours into my life.
“For example, I design my favourite quote or lyrics from my favourite band Linkin Park by using calligraphy.
“Practising calligraphy allows me to relax my mind and concentrate on the details such as each and every stroke of the alphabets,” she said.
Having conducted six workshops for the past few months, she said calligraphy is one of the interesting activities that will make someone fall in love with it once he or she gets started.
Jo Yee said both types of calligraphy, the modern and traditional, are interesting in their own ways, but she personally prefers the former.
“Traditional calligraphy is limited but in fact elegant, and as for modern calligraphy, it allows us to go beyond the traditional, which is much more interesting,” she said.
Dayna Chan, 34, who has been writing calligraphy for more than three years, started modern calligraphy through self-learning and attended a traditional calligraphy workshop later.
The idea of calligraphy came to her when she saw pretty calligraphic works written using a penholder on Instagram.
“I am very interested to know how someone can write with the penholder and started to explore more, hence, I found out that someone offered a calligraphy workshop in Kuala Lumpur,” she said.
Dayna would write calligraphy whenever she needs to write anything, for example, on the angpau when she has to attend wedding dinners.
She usually gets involved in wedding projects too.
“Every wedding is different and special as every couple wants different things.
“I explore different things and write on different materials and surfaces,” she said adding that her wedding projects involved writing calligraphy on the welcome boards, place cards and table numbers.
Dayna added that writing calligraphy is very therapeutic.
“When you write, you calm down as well.
“You won’t rush yourself and you will know practice makes progress.
You know everything that you do, as long as you practise more, will surely see the results at the end. That is what I learn from calligraphy,” she said.
The writing experience of calligraphy can be special as it is a visual art form which uses writing instruments to express the very souls of words on paper.
By practising calligraphy, you can understand how your pen hits the page and how to make the letters come alive.