Maintaining control over your brush pen is crucial when first learning brush calligraphy. However, it can be a challenge figuring out how to best hold the pen, control your movement, and position your body, arms, and hands.
The hardest part is finding what works best for you. Even after I share with you how I hold my brush pens and write with them, you may find alternative ways that work better for you! The key is to experiment, learn, and practice.
brush pen vs. pointed pen
The brush pen is a great first tool to use when learning how to write calligraphy because it is a lot simpler to use than the pointed pen.
While both types of pens allow you to achieve calligraphy, the main difference is that the pointed pen strictly requires a specific grip. It must be held in the way many of us were taught to traditionally hold a regular pencil (watch my video below for a demonstration). In addition to this type of grip, the pointed pen must be angled in such a way that the downstrokes are parallel to the pointed end of the nib. This skill takes much practice and getting used to before writing with the pointed pen is very natural.
On the other hand, the brush pen can be held in many different ways and it will still write. The most important aspect to focus on when gripping the brush pen is the angle at which the tip is on the page. The brush pen tip should be angled in order for you to apply different pressure to the pen and achieve those thin and thick strokes that define calligraphy.
The less angled and more straight up toward the ceiling, the brush pen does not create calligraphy strokes. Instead, it starts to look more like a regular marker with equally wide strokes, which can still be used to create beautiful writing, but not necessarily calligraphy.
Gripping the brush peN
There are different ways you can grip the brush pen to create beautiful brush calligraphy. The pen can be held in the traditional way a pencil is gripped. It can be held in non-traditional ways, too, as long as it is held in the appropriate angle.
I have found that the key to writing with the brush pen is to focus on the angle of pen to the page. To achieve this, you have to make sure that whatever grip you choose allows you to easily apply different amounts of pressure as you write.
Positioning your hands and arms to write
I realize this section may be difficult to follow by reading, so be sure to watch my video at the end for a demonstration!
When preparing to write, first be sure that you are seated with your body facing forward. Then place a pen in your hand and hold it as if you are about to write (but don’t write just yet).
Depending on the angle you want to write your letters, you will turn the page so that you are not rotating your hand. You want to find the angle of the page that works best for you. This will take time and practice to figure out the best angle you want to write, and it also depends on the style you are trying to achieve.
Once you find the grip that is comfortable for you, you should NOT be changing the angle of your pen as you write. The pen should remain in the same angle and instead your hands and arms will move across the page. You may move your wrist as needed, but for the most part, you do not want all the movement to come from your wrist.
Aim for controlled, intentional movement. Don’t worry about being shaky or not achieving the exact results you desire. Focus on building good habits now, so that you learn from a good foundation.
As I have stressed in previous blog posts, go slow and practice the basics. Do your drills and write the alphabet over and over, being conscious of how you are holding your pen. Once you find a comfortable grip and your pen is at the right angle, keep practicing!
Video: How to Hold the Brush Pen
Watch this video below as I demonstrate the concepts discussed in this post:
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It’s your turn!
Have you found a grip for the brush pen that works for you? How did you discover it?
Which concept above would you like to see explained and demonstrated in more detail?
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