Calligraphy Art by Margaret Shepherd

While surfing the web not so long ago, I ran across a little gem of a drawing. At first glance, you may say that it's just a drawing of a cat and a mouse but take a closer look: the cat is literally made of the letters C-A-T and well, you can guess what letters of the alphabet make the mouse.

It took a little sleuthing to find the artist, Margaret Shepherd, who turned out to be a noted calligrapher and author of bestselling books on calligraphy and etiquette. When I asked her how she got started in calligraphy, she said "I got my start when I flunked Palmer Method* handwriting in third grade. I just knew even at that age that there had to be something better. In college I had a tutorial introduction to calligraphy, and after spending a semester on Roman, and the whole first month on the letter O, I was hooked."

[*Note: The Palmer Method of penmanship, developed by Austin Palmer in the early 1900s, focuses on cursive writing. The method fell out of favor and was later replaced by a movement to teach children manuscript or block letters]

Margaret is kind enough to provide more examples of her calligraphy art for our viewing pleasure:

Artist Statement by Margaret Shepherd, February 2010:

While the letters I use are often the simplest classic pen-written
forms, I arrange them in completely new ways. My calligraphy aims at
the area of the viewer’s brain right in the middle between reading
and seeing. I began by using long passages to build up woven textures,
full of pattern and color. Now I use short words to form shapes that
look like what the words mean--the letters c a t line up to look like
a cat, for instance. The viewer feels as though the image has been concealed
in the letters all along, and my art lets it be seen. My mantra is that
a letter can be anything--a hoof, a breast, a hat, or a whisker.

I have always tried to free calligraphy from its antiquarian tendencies;
I don’t rely on ornamental borders, medieval elements, or expensive
materials such as gold leaf to carry the image. I have always sought
a page where there is no image other than what is created by the letters.

In addition to exhibiting my work, I have written a number of books
for amateurs and students of calligraphy. This year I am writing Calligraphy
All Over the World, and discovering that colleagues everywhere are also
taking radical new approaches working to their own non-Roman scripts.
We each have our own unique style.

A letter can be anything!


based on e. e. cummings' poem "the little horse is newlY"

based on e. e. cumming's poem "here's a little mouse) and"

All drawings courtesy of Margaret Shepherd.

Links: Margaret
Shepherd's official website
| Gallery

Books by Margaret Shepherd:

Art of the Personal Letter: A Guide to Connecting Through the Written
Art of Civilized Conversation: A Guide to Expressing Yourself With
Style and Grace
Art of the Handwritten Note: A Guide to Reclaiming Civilized Communication
Calligraphy: The Complete Book of Lettering and Design

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