6 Reasons Why A Creative Workshop Is Good For You

Never Stop Learning via Happy Hands Project

I have attended a few creative workshops in the past 5 years, and they have been nothing but amazing. I tend to be picky and only attend classes that are of my interest, so that means it’s mostly calligraphy, and these classes have taught me so much more than what I can teach myself in a  year.

I have taught myself creative or modern pointed pen calligraphy, but what really got me going was after I attended Maybelle Imasa‘s class here in Singapore. I’m all for self-study, but nothing beats an in-person workshop, based on my experience. Here, I have put together 6 reasons why going to an in-person workshop is good for you.

1 :: It speeds up the learning process

It took me 2 years to teach myself pointed pen calligraphy. If only there were workshops here in Singapore back in 2012, it would have taken me just a few months! I had Eleanor Winters’ Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy book for ages, and I could just follow the instructions if I allowed myself to learn from the book. But when she came here in 2014 and taught our class how to write the strokes, I had so much insight that I could not wait to get home to practice.

Same thing with Spencerian. This is a hand that I’ve been wanting to learn for years. I bought the Spencerian Workbooks by Platt Rogers Spencer. I’ve had it for a year and have only begun on the first workbook (it had 5). I could not even master the entrance strokes.

Last month, I attended a 2-day beginning Spencerian class with calligrapher Michael Ward. After the class plus weeks of practice, I can already write monoline Spencerian in lower case (while using his exemplar as a guide). It would have taken me years if I depended on my time management skills and the workbooks.

2 :: Someone points your mistakes (and commends you when you’re right!)

Eleanor slightly adjusted the nib on my plastic oblique holder during class. It has been angled wrong all along! During the classes I teach, we were able to address minor issues right away—scratchy nibs, ink blobs and usually the most challenging—connecting letters to form words.

You will be inspired and encouraged when your teacher tells you you’re doing something right, and it’s something you won’t forget that easily. The most effective teachers I’ve met were those who point out mistakes but were never patronizing nor condescending. I wouldn’t say everyone’s a snowflake, but it sure feels good when students receive a little encouragement.

3 :: You learn tips and tricks that you wouldn’t learn elsewhere

When the teacher is right there in front of you, you can just ask a question and receive instant feedback. It’s hard to judge your work when you’re alone. I remember a question I posed to Mike Ward during class. I showed him my uppercase B’s and asked, “these look right to me, but something’s off. Can you tell what it is?”, and he took my sheet and marked the first loop. It had to be a tad rounder.

Calligrapher Paul Antonio taught us the importance of good posture and a breathing technique to make writing easier. And I have applied it to the way I write.

4 :: You will find the value of practice

These teachers give lessons because they are experts in their own field. You will realise the hard work they’ve been through to get better in their craft. Nobody becomes an expert overnight, and after learning from these experts, I have found the value of practicing in order to refine my writing.

You can spend so much money going to different classes but without practice, you will never get better at it. It pays to flex those (hand and arm) muscles and put on paper what you’ve learned so that the workshop fees you’ve paid for truly is money well-spent.

5 :: Your passion will be ignited

Being around people in a creative environment is enough to super-charge your passion. Writing calligraphy, lettering, or even painting, can be a solitary activity. But spending hours or days with people who share the same passion as you will trigger a certain passion inside you. It is up to you to do something about it!

I love hearing the teacher’s creative journey—how they started and how long it took them to be where they currently are. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t all roses and sunshine, but hearing how they got better at their craft was enough to inspire everyone in the room to keep going.

Have you ever gone to a painting class and could not wait to get home and get your painting tools out? If you have, that’s exactly what I was talking about.

6 :: You make new friends

During those breaks during class, you’ll end up chatting with those around you. You’ll exchange Instagram handles, or plan the next art jam, or ask each other which class you’re going to next. Either way, you’ll get to know those like-minded individuals and you might just hit it off with one (or even two) of them!

So there you have it. I hope this year you’ll decide to go to a class and learn something new. The next blog post will all be about online workshops—and why they’re good for you, too—specially when in-person classes are out of the question. Let’s all keep on learning!

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Brush Lettering Workshop

Watercolour Brush Lettering Workshop via Happy Hands Project

We had all sorts of colour gradients during last month’s brush lettering workshop. This is a more relaxed class (compared to pointed pen calligraphy, in my opinion), and a more colourful one for sure.

The latest brush lettering class was all freehand, where the students learned to write thin and thick strokes with my favourite brush pens. After that, writing words with watercolours and a water brush came next. I love the part in class when I show them how to make the colours blend naturally using watercolours, creating the ombre effect… and they fell in love with it instantly!

Watercolour Brush Lettering Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Each one has her own unique style and colour preference, and you’ll see that on the photos of their artworks below. The next brush lettering class is still in the works. If you’d like to get the first dibs, you may subscribe to the email newsletter on the right sidebar (no spam, just calligraphy and lettering news!).

Watercolour Brush Lettering Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Watercolour Brush Lettering Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Watercolour Brush Lettering Workshop via Happy Hands Project

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Brush Lettering Workshops With Pentel Singapore and Tokyu Hands

 

Brush Lettering Workshops with Pentel via Happy Hands Project

Tokyu Hands at Westgate Mall had its share of Pentel brush lettering workshops last August. Organised by my friends at Pentel Singapore, we had 2 afternoons of short classes for brush lettering beginners. Similar to the classes we’ve done at Tokyu Hands at Orchard Central, we used the ever-so-colourful Pentel Fude brush pens.

Brush Lettering Workshops with Pentel via Happy Hands Project

It was my first time visiting Tokyu Hands at Westgate Mall, and the shop is quite huge. This time around, we had a lot of families coming for the 40-minute crash courses. There were quite a lot of kids this time, which made the classes all the more fun. Kids love to experiment and are very eager to learn and they don’t overthink the process—we can always learn from them, don’t you think?

Brush Lettering Workshops with Pentel via Happy Hands Project

What I love about the Pentel fude brush pens is that it’s very easy to use. Kids had a lot of fun exploring the vast array of colours. It was also quite easy for the young ones to follow the alphabet guides provided—mostly because they get to choose what colour of pen to use. The more colourful it is, the more fun they have!

Brush Lettering Workshops with Pentel via Happy Hands Project

Here are more photos from the event—feel free to share online if you’re in them! We’ll be back for a third instalment of brush lettering workshops with Pentel, this time at Tokyu Hands at Suntec City Mall. See you guys on 11-12 November! Click here for the schedule and sign-up details.

 

Brush Lettering Workshops with Pentel via Happy Hands Project

Brush Lettering Workshops with Pentel via Happy Hands Project

Brush Lettering Workshops with Pentel via Happy Hands Project

More photos from the event can be found on Pentel’s Facebook page. All photos courtesy of Pentel Singapore.

Modern Calligraphy Workshop in Manila

Calligraphy Workshop in Manila via Happy Hands Project

Last January marked my first modern calligraphy workshop in Manila, Philippines. It was a lovely Saturday with absolutely no traffic jam. It was sunny, and bright light was streaming down the floor-to-ceiling windows of The Picasso‘s function room. I’ve set up without a hitch, with fairy lights nicely hanging on the glass wall.

I brought all tools and workpads from Singapore, so the class in Manila was basically the same Happy Hour Workshop that we have in here. Thanks to my kids who have airline baggage allowance for themselves (even infants get 10kg!), I did not have to pay extra for more than 20 sets of workshop kits! Yay!

Calligraphy Workshop in Manila via Happy Hands Project

We were packed to the brim that day. These amazing ladies got to work, practicing their letter forms, as I went around to see how each of them were doing. It’s so satisfying to see them struggle during the first strokes of the drills, then start improving as they start filling the pages with more letters.

Of course, a workshop is not complete without coffee and pastries, so we stopped mid-way to refuel and mingle. It was great to get to know each and everyone of them, find out what they do for a living and how they stumbled upon this workshop (someone said Google, which was awesome).

Thanks to everyone who came to the Beginners’ Class — hopefully I’ll be back later this year for an intermediate one, or even brush lettering! We’ll never know. Hugs to the ladies who had to travel quite far just to get the workshop. Lastly, high fives to the amazing team at The Picasso Boutique & Serviced Residences for giving in to my requests and setting up so nicely. I can’t wait to be back! Now here are more photos of the class. To those who weren’t able to come, hope to see you guys next time!

Calligraphy Workshop in Manila via Happy Hands Project

Calligraphy Workshop in Manila via Happy Hands Project

Calligraphy Workshop in Manila via Happy Hands Project

A Peek Into The Calligraphy In Colour Workshop

Calligraphy In Colour Workshop via Happy Hands Project

I was amazed by so much talent during the first Calligraphy In Colour advanced modern calligraphy workshop here in Singapore. I was happy to be back at Joo Chiat Place, too! There were some familiar faces, ones who I’ve already met in my beginners’ classes. There were new faces, too, and all 12 ladies were very enthusiastic about mixing colours and exploring new styles.

Calligraphy In Colour Workshop via Happy Hands Project

During 2014, I’ve always had beginners’ classes where we use black ink and focused on drills and basic letter forms. In the advanced class, we used different types of coloured paper, different kinds of inks and paint, and an end project that everyone so creatively pulled off. We got a little technical as well, because I believe that these things are better taught during an advanced class where everyone is already familiar with pointed pen calligraphy.

Calligraphy In Colour Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Oh, and as always, we’ve got a sumptuous menu for our lunch specially catered by Carpenter and Cook.

Calligraphy-In-Colour-via-Happy-Hands-Project-4

I’m looking forward to having another Calligraphy In Colour class in the next few months! If you’re curious if this class is for you, well, you just need a basic knowledge of using a flexible nib and be familiar with the letter forms. A more detailed class description can be found here. After practicing calligraphy in black ink, it’s a whole new experience when you start customising colours and finally creating your own work of art. Thanks to everyone who came, you were all awesome!

Calligraphy In Colour Workshop via Happy Hands Project

Venue: Studio @ Heaven In A Wildflower
Catering: Carpenter and Cook

Beginners’ Calligraphy Workshop {October Edition}

Modern Calligraphy Workshops via Happy Hands Project

I’m still on a high from last Saturday’s Happy Hour Workshop! I think this is the first time that we had 3 Michelles in the group! Who would think modern calligraphy drills would actually be fun? I was teaching myself years ago and drills were a chore (albeit necessary). I’m still quite amazed at how patient these ladies were, even when there were quite a few scratchy sounds, ink blobs and spills.

Modern Calligraphy Workshops via Happy Hands Project

 

They were all so into writing, it was difficult for me to coax them out of their seats to have lunch! Finally, the smell of Quiche Lorraine and pastries lured them downstairs and we all enjoyed a hearty meal (thanks to Carpenter & Cook, as always!).

I should’ve known that this group is really into learning modern calligraphy. When I opened the registration for this class, all seats were snatched in minutes. I was in awe!

Modern Calligraphy Workshops via Happy Hands Project

I’ve been receiving a lot of emails regarding the upcoming workshops – looks like everyone wants to get into the craft before the year ends! Great news – I’ll be having one session specially for those wait listed from this October session. Another will be for subscribers of the Workshop Newsletter, so leave your email address on the right sidebar to get the first dibs. I cannot wait to meet all of you, and I promise to have more classes in 2015.

I’m sending another shout out to Heaven In A Wildflower for having us at her lovely, lovely, lovely home studio.

The Happy Hour Workshop: August Session

Last August’s Beginners’ Modern Calligraphy Workshop was super fun! What I love about these classes is meeting different individuals from different fields, all eager to learn a new craft. Some are even eager to take an advanced class (which I’m preparing for, by the way – thanks for the feedback!). Here are the photos from The Happy Hour!

Venue: Studio @ Heaven In A Wildflower  |  Catering: Carpenter & Cook

Calligraphy Workshop Aug2014 via Happy Hands Project

Calligraphy Workshop Aug2014 via Happy Hands Project

The Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop {May Edition}

It has been raining sporadically here in Singapore lately – you can never tell when it’s going to pour or how long it will last. Fortunately, the weather cooperated last 31 May. The Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop took place during a beautiful sunny afternoon at Joo Chiat! I felt very lucky to be surrounded by another batch of creatives who were eager to learn a new craft.

Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

As always, I try to keep my class as intimate as possible. Introducing modern calligraphy to 8 individuals is perfect for all of us! It’s always a joy to see how each person’s handwriting transforms into a work of art on its own. Those 3 hours were spent effectively learning about the upstrokes and downstrokes and getting our hands inky with drills and flourishes.

Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

The studio is always worth mentioning – I simply love its character. I spent a looooong time trying to find a right venue for my workshops and it was pure serendipity that I stumbled upon Studio@Heaven In A Wildflower. Tea break was such a welcome treat especially with delish cakes from Carpenter and Cook.

Happy Hour Calligraphy Workshop via Happy Hands Project

From left to right: Eunice, our hostess and owner of Studio@ Heaven In A Wildflower, Frances, Davinia, Pauline, Amanda, Pratiwi, Esther, Iris, Intan and Karina

 

I’m again tipping my hat to the lovely ladies who came to the class – some have been traveling, some busy with work and mommy duties, but found the time to pick up a new craft. Thank you to those who came to Singapore just for this workshop – you know who you are! I’ve been busy as a bee lately, with classes and calligraphy commission works . But each class I teach is a learning process for me as well, and looks like we’ll be having more for the rest of the year! Be in the loop by subscribing to the mailing list. Oh, and here’s what went on in the inaugural HH Calligraphy Workshop.

Sold Out: Registration for New Workshops

Happy Hands Project Calligraphy Workshops

I’m sure you’re all eagerly waiting for this one. The Calligraphy Workshops are back! Yay!

Due to the feedback from the wonderful ladies from the first Happy Hour Workshop, I’ve added another hour to the beginners’ class. That means you’ll have more one-on-one instructions, more practice time, and more interaction with me and your fellow creatives. This is a small class with only 8 participants, which makes it extremely beneficial for everyone. Everything will be provided, including delish meals from Carpenter & Cook, so just arm yourself with patience and creativity and head to Studio @ Heaven In A Wildflower! This will be a project-based class, so you will also find out how you can take this hobby further. You’ll have a special handmade item to take home, that’s for sure!

Have I convinced you enough? Just fill in the form to secure your seat. You will receive a confirmation email with the payment deets. See you there!

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore

Maybelle in Singapore via HappyHandsProject

Just the other day I remember a discussion on the Flourish Forum about Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls’ calligraphy exemplar. Some were wondering if it would be worth attending her class or just purchasing her kit online. The kit alone is such a treat – I can stare at Maybelle’s handwriting all day! However, if you know that she’ll be in your city, I’d say go to her class instead. An in-person workshop is a much better option if you have a choice.

Let me tell you why.

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

Being in Singapore, I was so fortunate to have Bloesem Creative Space invite Maybelle for a series of classes. To say workshops by renowned calligraphers are rare here would be a total understatement. I’ve never gone to a calligraphy workshop before so this one will practically be my first ever. Being a fan of her works and style for ages, I was super excited to say the least!

It was a glorious Sunday morning. After having breakfast with my husband at the Tiong Bahru Bakery, he walked me across to Bloesem for the 3-hour class. You know what made the morning even more glorious? I had a front row seat! Exactly in front of Maybelle! It was very inspiring to hear how she started out and be able to observe how she actually writes. It’s very beneficial especially for beginners because simple things like incorrect writing angles will be easily addressed. Anyone’s free to ask questions, too. And the kit. Oh, the kit. I know I already have a lot of ink holders, pens and a million other odds and ends, but I love all the handmade tools and letterpress exemplar that Maybelle brought for the workshop.

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

Aditionally, I believe it’s Bloesem’s interiors that really set the mood for such an enjoyable class. Who wouldn’t love practicing calligraphy in such a lovely space with rays of sunlight peeking through? We were all pampered with refreshments as well – all cooked lovingly in Bloesem’s kitchen. After mingling with Maybelle and the ladies, champagne was served. Yes, you read that right. We were that spoilt.

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

 

Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls in Singapore via Happy Hands Project

I guess all this pretty much sums up why I think an in-person workshop would be well worth your time. Be sure to check Maybelle’s workshop page as that’s where I found out she was coming here and almost fell of my seat. Bloesem’s classes always have something interesting being offered as well. I would go to every single class if I could!

For my very own Happy Hour Workshops here in Singapore, I’ll be announcing a date (or dates!) soon. Leave your email here to be in the loop.

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