When You Think You Are Done…Practice Some More

I am taking a sign painting class and this afternoon we started the ‘Script’ style of lettering. I spent hours practicing the most important stroke. After dinner I went back and practiced some more. Here you see my last sheet of the day.

When I arrived I knew that I would not be painting an actual sign and yet somewhere in my romantic heart I hoped to have more to show for my efforts than sheets and sheets of unfinished ‘a’. Our teacher is a veteran sign painter of over thirty years experience. He told us he cannot teach us to paint the letters, he can only show us how they are done and we have to practice until we understand the paint and the brush enough to be able to paint the letters. This does not happen over night, it takes three to five years to become a sign painter. Which means practice and practice and more practice.

Sure signs can be created by computer and printed more easily via electronic methods. More easily does not mean better, it simply means cheaper and faster. The best signs are still hand painted, designed and created by professional sign painters. Yet in our hurry up, YouTube video tidbit viewing world we think that watching a short video makes us skilled enough to do it ourselves. Somewhere we have lost the patience and desire to go through the effort and energy needed to master a skill. I go back to the old adage I learned growing up, if it is worth doing it is worth doing well. Doing something well means practice, failure, more practice, and just when you think you are done…more practice. My sheets and sheets of letters strokes reminded me of this very clearly.

I have learned a great deal and my trip was worth every penny if only because I have seen the hand lettering of signs from a completely different perspective. I truly have a new appreciation for those who have gone before me and spent years mastering their craft. It has spurred me on the learn and practice more in hopes that one day I too can paint a sign that I will be proud to tell people I did by hand. Tomorrow is our last bit of class, which means more letters strokes and maybe a completed letter or two…to the easel and the paint and the letter strokes I go!

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