A Beginner’s Mindset

I didn’t think there was any value in repetition. I remember as a 5 or 6 year old wondering what the point of it was, particularly when some adult insisted on doing some over and over again, like memorising and reciting poetry, or copy-writing.

I’d never considered how much I loathed repetition for certain things, and how ‘in the flow’ I felt when doing other things repetitively.¬† My conscious observation of what I found myself doing repeatedly may have been when I took up calligraphy again about 5 years ago, and the first task I did this time round was the oval drills. I found pdf versions of historical books on beautiful handwriting on the wonderful iampeth ¬†site, & most of them insisted on the importance of the repetitive exercises.

Whether it has been learning to fingerpick the guitar or learn a new task, deliberate practice and repetition is the only thing that gives me the confidence that I can do it fluently. It isn’t easy, and it often isn’t fun while I struggle with it.

I’m a beginner yet again, this time learning Ornamental Penmanship, aka Spencerian. The beginner mindset is what I have to keep remembering to be in, not to judge my current foundational letterforms, to keep repeatedly doing them until the picture in my mind’s eye and the physical form that I am able to write resemble each other closely. And in the meanwhile, publish whatever I can produce here to keep myself on track.

Here’s some of today’s effort, ovals and a few shades.


Noodling on doodles

I spend a little time every day on drills, as they call them. Thousands of little ovals of various shapes & sizes. Rapid ovals & push-pulls. Using every muscle in the hand, arm, & occasionally the shoulder. Changing direction midway.                                                                      On some days, inspiration strikes. Some random YouTube video or a picture someone has posted of their own creation, something beautiful. I know there’s no way I’ll be able to match the perfection captured in those videos/pictures, but I keep that as a guide while I scrawl on my scrapbook. 
Sometimes, a random thought strikes midway through the drills, taking the mind’s eye away from the concentration required for the physical hand-eye coordination.  The damage on the attempted creation is real. You may disagree, dear two regular readers, but I see everything that’s wrong on that page. Including how I didn’t even bother closing the blinds from the morning sun when I took the picture. 
What’s the point of these drills? What’s the point of copying someone else? Why post a picture every day? Why bother vomiting a few words on this blog? 
What’s the point of anything, really? 
“We don’t find meaning in life, in our work. We give meaning to what we do.” Those words ring out quite a few times through the day for me, especially in these isolation days.