National Handwriting Day and the Artist

vintage fountain pen

In celebration of National Handwriting Day I wanted to write a post about this disappearing art.  Many days after school, I spent time in my room trying to perfect my script.  I was not satisfied with the identity my written words portrayed on the page.  A moment in history struck a chord in my mind, Marie Antoinette signing her marriage contract; her hand trailed across the page, an anguished scrawl, leaving a legacy she was not pleased to be associated with, never mind the tragedies to transpire after the marriage.  I wanted to be an artist, but my written words were anything but artistic, cramped letters that mimicked the style taught during grade school; I endeavored to do better than Marie.

Marie antoinette wedding signature

marie antoinette wedding contract

cursive example

At the time, the best examples of artistic script to be found was contained in the art of album cover design.  From Pink Floyd’s The Wall to Neil Diamond’s Beautiful Noise, these designs inspired me to draw my letters until a flowing script transformed many notebook pages from my practice. This will probably be the only reference in blog history of Neil Diamond and Pink Floyd mentioned as the influences of an artist.

beautiful noise album cover

pink floyd the wall album design

A dear friend in high school shared the gift of fountain pens and nibs, growing my art to Calligraphy, another area I mastered.  This art required patiently composed words the curve and flow of each letter paramount.

calligraphy nibs

waterman fountain pen ad

As new artists emerge, perhaps technology will transform this style into something none of us can currently imagine.  The day of email and typed script has taken over the creation of hand lettering and I find myself missing the personal touch of a handwritten note.  On occasion, I glance over my mother’s handwritten bits, she is gone now, but those words bring her closer to me again.  I rarely get the same feeling from an email or Facebook message.

a month of letters challenge

So I would encourage you, dear reader, take a moment this week to pen a note and send it to a friend.  I believe the response will have an immeasurable comparison.

fountain pen image

john hancock_s signature

Rabbit Hole of Research:

Toni Tennille (The Captain ‘n Tennille) sang backup on The Wall.

Robbie Robertson, (The Band) produced Beautiful Noise.

month of letters participant

I am participating in A Month of Letters on Facebook, send me a private message and we can exchange addresses.  Do you have any thoughts to share on the disappearing art of hand writing?  I look forward to chatting with you!

Kind regards,

Mary Jo



Filed under January

5 responses to “National Handwriting Day and the Artist

  1. Pingback: Writing Resources: January 2013 | Gene Lempp ~ Writer

  2. C

    Great Post, MJ.
    Good penmanship can, and often seems to, define the man(woman). I’ve seen people turned down or accepted for employment, brushed aside as committee reps,and ridiculed or praised by their own families simply because they did,or didn’t, show a good hand. It can bring out joy, sorrow and every emotion in between. Kind of amazing when you think about it actually – costs no money, just some extra time and effort- like all things that are worthwhile.
    Reading your post this morning starts the day well.

  3. Handwriting…it’s been important to me since 1st grade learning to print letters on wide-ruled yellow paper with Sister Rose Anthony overseeing. I don’t hand write as often as I used to but do still hand write thank you notes, notes in holiday and birthday cards and journal entries. I learned cursive writing under the strict hand of Sister Mary Evodia (her name still strikes fear in me). I won a penmanship award, from our sweet-faced Principal, every month of the remainder of my years at The Convent School. I took great pride in my handwriting. It’s suffered a little with age and always feeling rushed, but when i take my time, I can bring it back just like the old days.
    This is a beautiful post on an art that has become tossed aside by younger generations. 🙂

  4. Hi Marcia, Thank you for the comment. Handwriting has more than one story to tell, doesn’t it? Congratulations on receiving the Penmanship award during your time at the Convent School. My handwriting has suffered through the years, usually because I am in a hurry, but it comes back, and the memories of why I style a letter a certain way gives the flow a personal connection I savor, just for myself. It amazes me how this simple expression of art is no longer valued, but I hope that raising the subject will give a few more individuals with stories such as yours inspiration to pick up the pen.
    Kind regards,
    Mary Jo

  5. Good Morning Char,
    Thank you for your wise words. Penmanship does reflect the person, even in this age of technology. No matter how many electronic applications are required, in the end, you will have to sign your name somewhere. Showing a good hand (great turn of phrase, btw) reflects on your attention to the smallest detail in representing your individuality. I have included you in my list of sendees for the National Month of Writing.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s