To Brush or Not To Brush: 6 Tips for Hand Lettering

They say that you can tell a lot about a person by her handwriting. Clear, neat writing indicates orderliness; a messy script signifies a love of long walks on the beach. Actually, I made that one up. But you know what I mean—it seems as though some writing styles reveal personality traits of the writer, not very different from a handshake, for example.

There may not be much that we can do about our handwriting, but when it comes to creative hand lettering, you’re in control. By using different mark-making tools, you can set the tone for your message. For example, have you ever considered using a paintbrush to write words and phrases in your sketchbook? There’s an entire episode of Mixed-Media Workshop TV dedicated to hand lettering techniques: “Write It Up” teaches you how to write with a paintbrush (watch a preview here).

Learn hand lettering techniques with Jenn Mason and Julie Fei-Fan Balzer at Mixed-Media Workshop TV.

Lettering: To Brush or Not To Brush

by Jenn Mason (inspired by “Write It Up”)

When working on lettering in a painting, collage, print, or art journal, consider using a paintbrush! Brushes will help you release any hate you may harbor for your handwriting. By thinking of the letters as shapes instead of handwriting, your can refocus the control of your hand in a new way. Want to give it a try? Here is a list of ideas for using brushes in your next mixed-media project.

1. Use a round brush with long bristles and thinned-down paint to go all scripty.
2. A big flat brush with short bristles is fun for graffiti-style letters on the background of a big painting.
3. Fine detail brushes are great for signing your name in a very professional way.
4. Try holding a long-handled round brush close to the end, away from the bristles, for a casual and loose letter feel.
5. Don’t forget to write with natural bristle brushes in your next encaustic painting.
6. Hold a flat brush at a 45-degree angle (like a calligraphy pen) and try a little fancy lettering. ~J.M.

Now that you have some new hand lettering ideas, here comes the hard part: knowing what to say! Is there a word or phrase that comes up often in your art? Tell me in the comments section!

Yours in art,


Art Journaling and Lettering, Blog, Mixed-Media Techniques


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