Sen Mendiola


My online journal filled with random musings on motherhood, life and my creative journey as an artist.

Five Common Reasons That Hold You Back from Learning Calligraphy

"OMG! I can't get it out of my mind! I really want to learn how to do that, but..." - Sounds familiar? I thought so.

In my previous blog, I gave you some questions, and hopefully your answers made you realize that you are 100% sure that you love to learn the art of calligraphy..

However, there is a big BUT that keeps on nagging.

Today, let me walk you through with these common reasons (or excuses) and my simple tips or ideas to help you throw them out of the window. Afterwards, I hope you feel encouraged to finally pick up the pen and start your creative journey.

No BUTs this time.


01 | My handwriting is bad. As in seriously bad!

Your personal handwriting is not an indicator of your success or progress in Calligraphy. Although both are done entirely by hand, there's a difference you need to consider.

On one hand, your handwriting is developed organically since the first time you learn how to write.

Calligraphy on the other hand is an acquired skill, from application of techniques through diligent study and intelligent practice.

Take a look at my normal handwriting, traditional calligraphy script and modern script variation. Can you see the difference? Can you even read my own handwriting?! 


And I want you to keep in mind that my calligraphy script, either the traditional one or the modern script style, is developed from more than two years of learning and practicing. It doesn't look like this the first time I tried, so do not give up easily or feel discouraged from what you can see floating around the internet!

Calligraphy is a skill that takes time and dedication.

02 | I am a lefty!

And that is totally fine! You might just need to get used to holding a calligraphy pen holder and place your paper at an odd angle, but it is doable.

One of the left-handed calligraphers I know is Younghae Chung of Logos Calligraphy. I encourage you to visit her Instagram page and see her gorgeous calligraphy works! You may also want to read her blog post that may help you find your "sweet spot".

03 | My hands are sweaty!

Seriously? This one? Guess what, you're not alone! I, too, have a sweaty hands - yes, seriously. 

Remember your "tricks" in school where you put a hanky or a towel underneath your palm so that your pad or notebook will not get wet - then yes you can still do that! Some even wear gloves or apply Driclor (with doctor's prescription) to their hands to minimize the sweating.

Come on, this is the easiest to solve! Right?!

04 | I have tiny humans!

Awe, aren't they the sweetest? I am a Mom and I totally get how clingy and needy they are most of the time! 

Now here, we need to get help from your partner. Sit down, talk to your partner how you really love to learn a new skill (which can also be your breather a.k.a. me time) and ask if he/she can hold the fort even for just 30 minutes everyday.

Check your family's routine and set one specific time slot for you to sit down, focus, study and practice. Stick to this time slot as much as possible and eventually, your little ones will begin to acknowledge that "oh, it's mommy's / daddy's writing time!"

05 | I have a busy schedule!

You know what, you will always be busy. So what you need to do is to MAKE TIME for it.

How? Try allotting 15 - 30 minutes of your lunch break to studying or practicing. Or better yet, spend some time before going to bed instead of mindless browsing different social media apps. 

Calligraphy forces you to slow down, to be mindful of your strokes, letter forms or practice drills. In return, your brain and body relaxes which makes you calmer and centered. You will be surprised how easy for you to go to sleep afterwards. 

Ornamental signature of J.C. Ryan. Image from

Ornamental signature of J.C. Ryan. Image from

Have you heard the name J.C. Ryan? The image above is his actual signature, written using an oblique pen. By looking at it, you know that it is done by a skillful penman.

You might be thinking, "Okay Sen, I get it. It's pretty but what's your point?"

Well, J.C. Ryan is known as "The Handless Penman".

Yes, you read it right! He lost his hands when about 22 years of age. But it didn't stop him from learning how to write again and later on learn ornamental writing. 

A photo of J.C. Ryan. Image from

A photo of J.C. Ryan. Image from

In his time, he made a living through his penmanship. He worked hard and persevered. And most importantly, made the most of what he have. 

Now, do you have any more excuses?