Skillful Offhand Flourishing demonstrates free and graceful control of the pen. By utilizing a unique offhand pen grasp in combination with whole-arm movement, we can calligraphically produce beautiful representations of the natural world.
Learn to produce rapid, beautiful, and easy designs in three different categories: birds, quills, and ornament. These categories represent a foundational understanding of historic American flourishing and allow students to employ simple designs in combination with their existing pen skills.
This Offhand Flourishing Program consists of three courses:
- Intro to Calligraphy — prerequisite, 2 weeks
- Intro to Pointed Pen — prerequisite, 1 week
- Offhand Flourishing I — primary course, 5 weeks
This program is designed to provide you with the ability to use Offhand Flourishing with confidence and enthusiasm. Modules consist of videos, essays, and diagrams covering all of the information needed to set you up for successful Offhand Flourishing. The syllabus for Offhand Flourishing I is outlined below:
Offhand Flourishing I — syllabus
What is Offhand Flourishing?
Before getting started into the how, we must first explore the what. In this section, we will take a look at definitions, history, and the principles of successful flourishing so that our subsequent efforts can be goal-oriented.
What are the basics of Offhand Flourishing?
Without clearly defining some principal techniques, Offhand Flourishing can seem like a daunting discipline to study. In this section, I will cover a few different modular elements that you can practice on their own. In turn, we will learn to repeatedly apply these elements into more and more complex designs. This entire course is built upon these principal techniques, so I will cover them in depth.
What’s up with these birds?
Birds are symbols of grace and beauty. They are emblematic of desirable qualities in penmanship and thus are a staple of the offhand flourisher’s repertoire. In this section, we will deconstruct some common birds and reduce them into their basic components. Great care is taken to provide you with a strong sense of what makes flourished birds beautiful and where they commonly devolve. At the end of this section, you will have the necessary skills to produce a rapid, simple bird in less than 60 seconds.
What’s so special about a quill?
Like birds, the quill has a soft spot in the heart of penmen. The flight feathers of various birds have been used as writing implements by scribes throughout history. The quill is to the penman what the hammer is to the carpenter: a totem of the profession and an iconic representation of the connective link between our hand and our Art. In this section, we will discuss simple quill designs and work to pair them with our birds into more complex designs.
How can I use Offhand Flourishing to ornament my other works?
Offhand Flourishing does not need to be pictorial to be beautiful. One such way that this discipline is used by penmen is in the filling of spaces surrounding text and script. In this section, we will learn a number of filling designs that can be used in conjunction with our birds and quills, but also in connection to calligraphic lettering. Some previous lettering experience will be helpful to some, but I will provide lettering templates for you to flourish around as well, so it is not required.
How can I use my new Offhand Flourishing skills?
My goal in producing this course is to encourage contemporary penmen and calligraphers to use their flourishing enthusiastically in their artwork, correspondence, and scrapbooks. In this section, we will tackle three small projects that can be given to friends, family, or tucked away as records of your progress in the Art.
The Offhand Flourishing Program is a Self-Study Program. It is designed to be completed without instructor or peer feedback, on a student’s own schedule.
With registration, you gain online access to the curriculum outlined above (plus the two prerequisite courses!) for one year from the date of your registration, and access to a general Community Forum where you can share your work with other Self-study Dreamers (if you choose.)
(above) A specimen combining flourishing and script by John A. Wesco in 1906. Original, high-quality scans of samples like this are used as references throughout the course materials.
This program is released as a progression of three courses and takes roughly 8 weeks to complete. Sections drip at one week intervals starting with Intro to Calligraphy. Students should expect to spend between 2-5 hours each week working through materials and practicing if they intend to complete the program in 8 weeks.
To participate in the lessons of this program, you’ll need:
- A straight pen holder.
- A pointed pen of your choice (Hunt 101, LPEF, etc.)
- An ink or writing fluid of your choice. (Walnut, Sumi, Iron Gall, etc.)
- Some paper that you can flourish on. (HP Premium 32)
- A ruler and pencil.
- Access to a printer.
- A computer with access to the internet.
You are responsible for the technical side of accessing DIS and will occasionally need to research and solve problems with your devices. You are the first line of defense in your own technical support. This program is accessible through smartphone or tablet, but a desktop computer is recommended for the best experience. Please understand that is a fully online course that requires you to interact with digital technology.