Friday, April 1, 2016

The Art of Whimsical Lettering by Joanne Sharpe

Image result for the art of whimsical lettering

What I have found that I really like to do is take art classes, watch art tutorials online, and buy art supplies. That barely leaves any time for making art, but I do the best I can.

Over the past five years or so, I have taken multiple watercolor classes, had private art lessons, attended two visual journal workshops, dabbled in calligraphy, spent a weekend on a watercolor painting retreat, filled many sketchbooks, and generally had a splendid time doing all of that.

Because I am a writer, the idea of combining words and images strikes a creative chord with me. I tried calligraphy - even had a private lesson or two - but have to admit I don't have the patience for that type of formal lettering.  

So I was happy the day I was nosing around YouTube looking for a series of Strathmore Artist Papers tutorials and stumbled across short videos by Joanne Sharpe which in turn introduced me to her book The Art of Whimsical Lettering. 

I haven't actually put my hands on the physical book, but I do have it on order. In the meantime, I have watched every online tutorial of hers that I can find. And I took a peek online at several pages of the book.

Her whole point is to use your own handwriting and then font-it-up with the jazzy techniques. She loves color and doodles and is all about using your own print or cursive letters - or a combination of both - to add text to art and visual journals, day planners, art projects, greeting cards, canvases, and stationery.

This is her mantra: Play. Practice. Write. Repeat.

In the book she suggests starting a journal to practice and develop your own style. As if I needed any encouragement to begin another journal! She just uses an inexpensive composition notebook for hers. I am in luck as I have many of those around the house just waiting to be filled.

Also in the book, she lays out the materials she uses - pens, watercolors, markers - and again, lucky me, since I am such an art supply hoarder, I have most of them. And what I don't have, I just improvise.

I like her free-style doodles and borders and letters. It is the sort of casual art I like to create. Nothing too serious. Just a flourish or two here and there.

Her ideas may seem intuitive to some of you, but I not only need the print examples but also a visual demonstration. Hence her book and the videos. All of that helps. 

Below is a sample of a page I did using my own handwriting and mixing it up a bit with some ideas from Ms. Sharpe. It's pretty shaky, mainly because I don't know what I am doing, but you can see that a few of her techniques include thickening up the letters, adding color, and putting down shadows. 

I chose the word holiday because it contains letters that go above and below the line along with round and vertical letters. Ms. Sharpe encourages practicing writing words and not just copying an alphabet. That helps put one's own personality into the letters.

Now is my chance to begin my very own Whimsical Lettering journal and play with my stash of art supplies.


  1. Love everything about this post, Belle. This sounds like just what I need, because I don't like the way my handwriting looks on an art journal page, but would like to combine art and lettering. I'll look for her videos and book. Nice page! Looks like fun.

    1. Kathy, I had a feeling you would like this post! Her videos are short and inspiring. She does doodling art too...I started with her Artful Card-Making Techniques and then moved on to her others. Her website has a couple of free videos showing some of the techniques in the book. Check it out! (BTW, I don't know Joanne, I just like her art and enthusiasm.)