COVID-19 lockdown has been a testing time for all of us. The spread of COVID-19 across the globe has caused disruptions to everyday life. In the increased downtime, some people have found space to start new projects and other creative endeavours.
People stuck at home are finding new space for creativity. Lockdown is bringing out the unknown artist in many of us. One such budding artist is Zarqa Jan. 21-year-old youth hails from Lalbazar area of Srinagar. She is self-taught calligrapher and sketch artist pursuing B.Sc Honours at SKUAST Wadura.
Zarqa didn’t learn calligraphy with a structured approach. She has been fond of drawing things since her childhood. She never had a teacher and no one was there for her counseling. Due to the lack of guidance and appreciation she left the art in 7th grade.
“There was no time to develop other hobbies during higher secondary classes. Being a medical student, I didn’t get enough time and I developed a fear of talking in front of people.”
After joining SKUAST, Zarqa started gaining interest in Calligraphy. When the first COVID-19 lockdown was imposed, she started to spend her time improving calligraphy skills.
“With fewer distractions and increased downtime, I found a space to start the art again. Calligraphy is an effective way to communicate and pass a message in a beautiful way. Artistic endeavours are a kind of luxury in the middle of a pandemic.”
When there was idleness all around, lockdown aided her with more time to improve skills. She began to devote most of time towards this art. “Rather than focusing on specific social circumstances or engaging with current events, modern art offers metamorphic and transcendent alternatives to the real world.”
Zarqa believes that the remembrance of Allah is the best way one can seek solace in hardship. For Zarqa the act of remembrance was in Arabic Calligraphy. “After seeing my portrait sketches and calligraphy, my friends insisted that I should work on this art again. I was overwhelmed by the response. It gave me a confidence boost.”
Her work attracted public attention when she worked on powerful Arabic Calligraphy. Not only was her art exemplary but she was respected for her skills.
Zarqa makes Quranic calligraphy, Urdu calligraphy and portrait sketches. She has also participated in an online calligraphy competition.
Earlier her skill level was amateur as first strokes were shaky but after a couple of months and countless ink blobs, her style got better.
Zarqa believes Arabic calligraphy, writing the Quranic verses are part of worship. “When I keep writing verses from religious scriptures, it’s like remembering my creator.”
Arabic Calligraphy is held in high regard by Muslims because of its association with the holy Quran.
As social media has helped a lot of people in promoting their work, Zarqa recently created an Instagram handle by the name JAN ZARqA, where she has started posting her work. “It’s so important to get virtually connected and recognized by people on social media platforms. I have started posting work on my instagram page. First, I used to keep my artwork private but now I have started sharing it on social media.”
Zarqa has started selling calligraphy frames on instagram and she is getting orders from people. “I try to put my heart and soul into my work. It takes me almost two hours to complete a single calligraphy. It also depends on the time, material frame, size and method that customer orders.”
According to other artists, calligraphy is not an art form that is out of reach. It’s not something one has to be really good at from the start; you don’t need to have a certain skill set to start with.
Nasreen Shah hailing from central Kashmir’s Ganderbal
District said, “After closure of Colleges, I devote 2 hours for making Calligraphy. It all started last year during the lockdown. Calligraphy has given me a new lease on life and COVID-19 lockdown came as a boon to me in one sense. Giving me hours to practice and create dozens of art projects. It is an opportunity to learn new skills. I add beautiful colours so that my calligraphy grabs everyone’s attention. It’s been a year now, and I can proudly say I have evolved as an artist”.
Similarly, Haika Javaid (16), another calligrapher from Kangan Ganderbal talked about the importance of creativity in times of crises and how her hobby has provided her with the calmness and escapism she needs right now.
Haika said, “ During lockdown , I watched calligraphy tutorials on Youtube. Since lockdown started, I have had a lot of time for myself and I have learned a lot. It was the time when I learned new skills like calligraphy. My first few attempts were quite frankly laughable. I struggled to pick up the basics initially, but the tutorials amid COVID-19 lockdown helped and after two months of practice my calligraphy started to look more presentable. Calligraphy for me has opened, quite literally, another world. ”
CALLIGRAPHY PRACTICE TIPS
Going slow will help you get better letter forms and sharper strokes.. Calligraphy is not meant to be fast. Take your time when you’re practicing your calligraphy. Think about it as a relaxing me-time, where I get to wind down and take my time to practice my calligraphy skills.
PAUSE BETWEEN STROKES
This goes hand in hand with going slow when you’re practicing calligraphy. Pausing between strokes will help you have even spacing between your letters. It also gives you the ability to concentrate better on the letterforms, which helps you build up muscle memory.
Modern calligraphy is different than cursive writing. When you are writing in cursive, you tend to write fast and continuously. When you are doing calligraphy, you have to write slow. Pausing between strokes will help you get better thick and thin strokes that differentiate calligraphy from cursive.
HOLD THE BRUSH PEN CORRECTLY
Yes, calligraphy is a form of lettering. But that doesn’t mean that it’s done the same way. There are many quick assumptions we make when learning calligraphy, holding the brush pen the same way as we hold a regular pen is one of them. If you to see some improvement in your calligraphy, make sure you adjust the way you’re holding your brush pen.
BE MINDFUL OF THE PEN PRESSURE
What’s that even mean? It means that in calligraphy it’s crucial that you are in sink with the pressure you put on your brush pen. One of the things that differentiate modern calligraphy from cursive writing is the marked variation in the width of the strokes; thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes.
It’s so important to find a comfortable position when you’re practicing calligraphy. Check your desk or table holding your paper is neither too low or too high and aim for your back to be straight. Vial Designs