Randy. To all I am just Geoff.
The macula in my eyes is breaking down and cannot be replaced — it cannot improve but only worsen. I have already had inter-ocular lens replacements but now old age is winning. Thank you for your concern.
The hardest hand to learn? ( I will write as if I were in the present tense) I don’t find it difficult to hold a constant pen-angle — neither do I find it difficult to manipulate the angle as what, when and where I want it. Strict control of the shaping and the line control doesn’t cause any hassles. Knowledge of the palaeography has always been a “must”.
Some styles are favourites — like gothic batarde, modern italics, manipulated carolingian. Others that are tolerable — gothic textura, insular uncials. E.J’s foundational. Note that these are all written with an edged pen.
The hardest — but not uncontrollable — I find are the ones written with a pointed nib. Not only do you have to control direction, shape, size, slopes, proportion, spacing and connections but also pressure induced thicks and thins. That needs a fine and sensitive touch. Far from impossible but too easily “acceptable”. High quality engrossing is challenging but exhilarating when satisfactorily achieved.
Flourishes should always marry naturally the letter with the negative space or adjoining letter(s). If it doesn’t appear to be a natural outcome it looks contrived and that repels aesthetics.
A favourite piece of mine that I designed and wrote is a Shakespearian quotation of about 16 words. It is written in a manipulated gothic batarde.
There is a gradual transition in letter colours throughout the first line with a reversing of the colour change in the last line. But the letter forming was the most interesting .
The entry into each letter was at a pen-angle of 45 degrees. It was then twisted to 60 degrees and back to 30 degrees for the exit. The whole letter was without slope and the x- height was 6x pen-width.
The pen angles gave sharpness to the top, a lithe body and weight to the base. The flourishes took your eye into an awaiting space, up or down to another level or to another letter. I wanted everything to look as if it were alive!