left-handed calligraphy created in Pentel blue brush pen

Left-Handed Calligraphy Top Tips

Many times I have been asked if learning brush pen calligraphy is something that left-handed people can do. Yes is the answer, using a brush pen is perfect for left-handed calligraphy!  I usually trot out a stock answer about how the ink dries quickly so there is no smudging as you create your calligraphy.  Although this is absolutely true, as a right-handed calligrapher I didn’t ever truly feel that this was enough of an answer, so I have enlisted some help!

Nic (@purecariad on Instagram), Lucy and Charles (Lucy’s dad) are all left-handed.  Nic had done a little calligraphy before, Lucy and Charles were beginners to calligraphy. I gifted each of them the brush pen calligraphy course and asked them to provide some feedback for me to pass onto you.

Please remember that learning anything new takes time, practice and patience. Calligraphy is no different, whether you are right or left-handed. Practising calligraphy a little and often is the best way to progress.

It is always best to remember to:

  • take your time
  • create calligraphy strokes slowly
  • relax your arm
  • relax your grip on the pen
  • have your paper in a position that suits you
  • hold the brush pen in a way that suits you

As with lots of things in life, I know that lefties are faced with challenges that you are used to overcoming in your own fabulous, creative way. Left-handed calligraphy is pretty much the same, there is no right or wrong. Lucy’s advice is that it is about finding your way, experimenting with paper position and holding the pen, and basically creating calligraphy in a way that feels comfortable to you. So here are some top tips for you:

Paper Position for left-handers:

As a right-handed calligrapher I turn my paper around to the left in an anti-clockwise direction. For left-handed calligraphy experiment with turning your paper clockwise to the right. (see photo below-how Lucy angles her paper to the right) How far round to the right really doesn’t matter. It might be that you like having your paper straight in front of you. Test it out and see what feels comfortable. Your paper position might well be determined by how you hold your brush pen.

left-hand calligraphy how to position the paper
left-handed calligraphy how to hold the pen
left-handed calligraphy, crossing a t

Holding the pen:

Nic got in touch with me almost immediately and told me what a game changer the small pentel brush pen is for left-handed calligraphy! She pointed out how the brush pen is easier to hold and easier to create calligraphy strokes, compared to learning calligraphy with a dip pen.

Her advice is remember to breathe, and relax your arm so that the pen is held lightly in your hand rather than gripping it.

Lucy holds her pen much like a right-handed calligrapher, close to the brush nib. Charles places his fingers further up the pen and keeps some finger tips off the table. (see middle photo above) This also helps to avoid smudging your lettering. Once again, experiment and see what works for you.

Where to put your hand

Having done a lot of calligraphy teaching, I have noticed that many left-handed calligraphers underwrite. Underwriting means placing your hand holding the brush pen under the calligraphy so you don’t smudge the ink. Some lefties ‘overwrite’ which means creating calligraphy from above by hooking your hand around.  Or look at the picture of Charles’s hand (finger tips off the page) and move your pen across your calligraphy (slowly!) as you create your lettering. Much like everything else, experiment with what works for you and what feels comfortable for you. There is no right or wrong in how you hold the pen, position your hand or position the paper.

Remember: the beauty of brush pen left-handed calligraphy is that the brush pen ink dries so quickly that you are much less likely to smudge the ink with your hand. Charles recommends creating your calligraphy strokes slowly. This not only helps to prevent ink smudging but it also means you create more elegant brush pen letters.

Tricky Letters with left-handed calligraphy:

Nic, Lucy and Charles thoroughly enjoyed learning brush pen calligraphy. Lucy went on to share this art with her primary school class and Charles now creates calligraphy cards for his grandchildren! Besides all that we have covered, they have some extra left-handed calligraphy advice for you:

Creating left-handed calligraphy strokes from left to right is a challenge, for example crossing the t and f, and the second diagonal upstroke on the x.  They all recommend creating this stroke from right to left and Lucy also sometimes turns her paper 90 degrees and creates this stroke from top to bottom.

What next?

Try experimenting with different brush pens, they come in different sizes and you might find that you fall in love with particular pens.

If you now fancy starting a brush pen calligraphy adventure please see all the details about the brush pen calligraphy course for beginners, with pricing options.

Fancy making a calligraphy sanctuary in your home? Nic creates beautiful aromatherapy candles which are fabulous to burn whilst you are practising some mindful, restful calligraphy for yourself.

If you are left handed and have any extra tips about left-handed calligraphy please do get in touch. I would love to hear from you. If you have any questions about the course or about left-handed calligraphy please do contact me. I love to chat all things calligraphy!

Meet the marvellous left-handed calligraphy team! Huge thanks for all your help and support xxx

Nic, relaxing at her Pure Cariad studio

Nic, owner at Pure Cariad

Lucy, with her son, Hugo

Lucy with her son, Hugo

Charles, with his grandson, Hugo

Charles, with Hugo