I had the great privilege of first studying calligraphy with Timothy Botts in Glen Ellyn, IL. That class took the place of the photography course I'd planned to take my last semester at Wheaton, but turned out to be very beneficial to freelance work I've done since. Without such world-renowned calligraphers nearby and no local calligraphy society to join (except for the months I spent living in Christchurch, New Zealand) I've had to rely on the Gothic Hands I learned from Mr. Botts and on the instructional books I've collected over the years. Looking through books of calligraphy techniques and historic examples of calligraphy and illumination can be not only instructive, but also inspiring, daunting, and somewhat addictive. But it hardly compares to a live instructor demonstrating his skill and critiquing mine.
Creating a pleasing piece of art primarily made up of words is a continual learning experience. There are always several ways of interpreting/representing a word or phrase or passage of text. And there are infinite means of embellishing text, whatever lettering style I am working with. The main contraints I usually run into are paper size (or room dimensions, if I'm painting on walls), working out visually/grammatically pleasing line breaks, and my tendancy to feel limited to horizontal lines instead of exploring more fluid or expressive layouts. If you have a favorite quotation or poem, I can always use more practice with letterforms and layouts, not to mention embellishments! If you have a project in mind (but can't picture the possibilities), page through some of my work [left].