A year of brush calligraphy: 10 things I’ve learned

a year of brush calligraph 2015 recap

What a year it has been.

2015. The year I started “really” doing brush calligraphy.

I say “really” because my first experience with the brush calligraphy pen was more than a year ago. However, it wasn’t until January 2015 that I really got serious and passionate about the brush pen.

Fitting for my first post in the new year, here are 10 things I have learned after a year of brush calligraphy

On Learning

  1. Brush calligraphy is “real” calligraphy. I used to think that pointed pen was the only “real” calligraphy. I actually didn’t like the brush pen when I first tried it! It turns out that calligraphy really refers to the thick and thin variations formed when handwriting letters. So say it with me, loud and proud, “Brush calligraphy is real calligraphy!”
  2. There is no such thing as overnight success. While it is easy to see great, elaborate works of art and thing that you will never get there, you are wrong. The thing is, you COULD get there. And you WOULD get there. It just won’t happen overnight.
  3. It’s about the journey, not the destination. I found my biggest success and improvement when I stopped worrying about the results. Instead of fixating my efforts on the final product, I started to just enjoy the process, complete with the spills, smears, and spelling errors. The most fulfillment comes from learning and growing.
  4. The creative community is real and strong. While you may feel alone in your creative journey, like no one believes in you or supports you, or you can’t find anyone to reach out to about your challenges and struggles, think again! The best place I can point you to is social media. For me personally, I have found so much support on Instagram connecting with calligraphers from around the world. It is amazing engaging with others who share in your same passion. Don’t be shy. Say hello, ask questions, and support others.

On Supplies

  1. Not all brush pens were created equal. As I have explained in the past, brush pens can vary depending on their size, thickness, flexibility, firmness, and ink. Try as many as you can. You never know which ones will be your favorite (or least favorite!)
  2. Rhodia pads are DA BEST. PERIOD. I don’t mean to play favoritism. But this is an exception. Rhodia pads are my FAVORITE. They are so smooth and perfect for gliding your pen across the page with ease. They are perfect for protecting your brush pens from fraying or getting worn out too fast.
  3. Portability makes brush calligraphy so easy. I love that I can just throw a pen or two, plus a small Rhodia pad in my bag and go. Getting set-up is so easy because the ink is already loaded into the pen, and just about any smooth, non-porous paper will work!

On Teaching

  1. The more you teach, the more you learn. I learn so much as I teach. I learn because I have to break concepts and processes down to the very core. By doing so, I recognize faults in my own self and find out that something that seemed to make sense in my head, doesn’t quite translate well for someone else. By teaching, and learning as I teach, things come full circle for me. As I teach what I know, I am able to learn more about myself and about brush calligraphy, and then go and share those lessons with others.
  2. What’s good isn’t always popular. What’s popular isn’t always good. Sometimes trends tempt me to drop everything I’m doing and follow them. But in my experience, sticking to one thing is exactly what will get you further than ever. You just follow the crowd and chase the shiny object. Focus on what you do well, even if it’s not the “cool” thing. Because guess what is cooler than being trendy? Being an expert.
  3. Just because you don’t know everything, doesn’t mean you cannot teach. In fact, you should teach as soon as possible. I have always felt that I needed to be “ready” to teach. I wanted to know everything and be the best before I could host any kind of a workshop. But after listening to the wise words of successful entrepreneurs such as Sean McCabe and Jeff Goins, I realize that I should have started teaching sooner. The minute I had something to share and teach to at least one other person, I should have began dumping all that I had to offer to that one person. Because inevitably, I learned more and soon learned so much that others don’t know at all. But better late than never. With Spring 2016 around the corner, I am finally committed to hosting local workshops and building my very first online class.

When I first started this blog, I wasn’t quite sure how far it would go. I simply wanted a little corner of the Internet in which I could share my experiences with calligraphy, showcase my work, and possibly receive feedback from others. But my blog has grown into something so much more than a compilation of words and photos. It’s now my home for inviting others into the wonderful world of brush calligraphy, enlightening them with my very best tips and tutorials, and promoting the right kind of practice so that others can find success in their own journeys.

What you can look forward to in 2016

Bigger and better things! While this past year has been filled with tons of great stuff, I want to make 2016 even greater. You can look forward to:

  1. Continued blogging and videos. I love sharing what I know and giving it away FOR FREE. Yes, I will be putting out paid content in order to sustain my efforts of blogging and videos, but I will always have this blog and my YouTube channel where you can access plenty of content at no cost. Judging by the overwhelming feedback I have been receiving lately, many of you out there want more videos and tutorials!
  2. ABC Challenge. On Instagram, I host an account called @handletteredABCs. Beginning January 3, 2016, we have challenged participants to write a letter a day until we complete the entire alphabet. Check out the challenge post here, as well as the amazing work that has already been created here! This is the perfect way to put together the basic strokes I have reviewed in the past eight weeks. Hope you’ll join the fun!
  3. Classes. As I mentioned above, 2016 is the year I host local, in-person workshops and online classes. I want to finally go deeper with you and really teach the fundamentals of brush calligraphy to as many students as I can. Stay tuned for dates and registration!

Thanks for a great year!

I hope you enjoy this short video I prepared. I am used to showing only my hands in my videos, so this was new and exciting (and slightly terrifying) for me!

~ ~ ~

It’s your turn! Tell me in a comment below:


What are somethings you learned in 2015?

What do you hope to accomplish in the new year (2016)?

What is one thing you are looking forward to, here on Pieces Calligraphy?

~ ~ ~


Sharisse signature - pieces calligraphy





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24 thoughts on “A year of brush calligraphy: 10 things I’ve learned

  1. Lynn Yap aka engliyap says:

    Hi Sharisse

    Just want to let you know that what you have done so far is AWESOME! Love your generous sharing and you have made brush calligraphy very trendy. You have make learning so much fun and I can assure you that you have definitely play an important role in my brush calligraphy journey.

    I look forward to more videos and great brush calligraphy tips from you. Stay as expert and continue to be trendy. I hope to improve my calligraphy skills in 2016… Let’s get work on it.

    Lynn Yap


  2. Noah says:

    Yaayyy! Sharisse!!!
    It is so exciting and i can not think of anyone more deserving and more talented. Youe 2016 is going to be so awesome and i am thankful to jabe gotten to take part in this wondwrful experience. It has my my calligraphy as well as my life better. Hopefully you remember us little folk when you are a hude celebrity. 😁 Hehe.
    Thank you again soooo much. 😊❤️


    • piecescalligraphy says:

      Hi, Noah! Hope you had a great New Year’s. You are not little folk and how could I ever forget you? At the rate you’re going, by conquering those basic strokes, you will be doing big things soon! Glad to share in your creative journey as well. Thanks for the constant support and encouragement. I cannot thank you enough.


  3. Becca says:

    Hi Sharisse!!!
    Like everyone else above, I want to say thank you!! Your work is such a wonderful starting point and really got me interested in brush calligraphy along with my pointed pen learning.

    And what you said above about TEACHING…. It is so inspiring to me!! I have discovered that that is what I love most about the calligraphy world… and I have started doing it on Instagram. I can honestly say I was terrified to post anything to teach others, considering I am not at all an expert! But the feedback and feeling of helping others is SO WONDERFUL!

    So… long story short… thanks. You’re an inspiration, girl!



  4. Ruchi says:

    Just wanted to let you know that I thoroughly enjoy your blog, videos and Instagram posts. I have always loved the art, and you have given me the push toward putting pen to paper. Thank you for that. You are right – it’s about the journey. Thank you for the helping hand along the way.


  5. Jeannie says:

    More power to you Sharisse!! Thanks for sharing your talents. I really enjoy your posts.🙂 They help me a lot with my brush calligraphy.


  6. Loreen says:

    Sharisse, I am so glad I found your blog, Instagram and YouTube videos! My New Year’s resolution was to learn brush calligraphy and your resources have been an incredible help! I have been doing the #handletteredabcs challenge (although I am behind) and that has been very helpful too! Thank you so much for sharing your journey, talents and for being willing to teach us newbies! Happy New Year!!


    • piecescalligraphy says:

      Hi, Loreen! So excited to hear! Don’t worry about being behind. I am behind myself, but that is why our challenge is so awesome: We are always encouraging folks to join us when they can, whether it’s to only jump in for the letter of the day, or to catch up slowly. We understand life and work and all kinds of things get in the way! So don’t be too hard on yourself. Enjoy the process and happy writing!


  7. Cheryl Rotnem says:

    Hi Sharisse, Just thought I’d ask you if you have a sheet with the Capitol letters? I’ve been practicing for sometime with other calligraphers, until I found you and now it’s easier than ever! Thanks


    • piecescalligraphy says:

      Hey, Cheryl! I do not yet have a worksheet for capitals, but hope to share one soon! Capital letters are something I am not as comfortable with in comparison to lowercase, but it is my goal to conquer them! In the meantime, you can check out my friend Nina’s capital letters on Instagram with the tag: #anintran_majuscules. Hope that helps for now!🙂


  8. Emily Parker says:

    Nice brush calligraphy workshops ….Yes really brush calligraphy takes the time to explain to us the process and technique. Whenever you could not speak anything’s, you can translator or explanation through by a painting and you will able to draw a character on a nice paper calligraphy art. I decorated a painting for my bedroom with a beautiful Japanese kanji design of “Love” painting ordered from Sumigraphy (U-CAN Americas, Inc.).Keep Blogging!!


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