MAKE & THANKS: FOR TRUTH (A LETTERING CHALLENGE.)
As makers, we probably each have stories of our creativity showing up at an early age. For me, I spent my childhood with a sketchbook in hand. There was something almost magical about using a simple tool like a pencil to draw an image onto paper that hadn’t been there just a moment before. I loved the process of trying to make what was in my head appear on paper. Along with images, that love of turning nothing into something also applied to words. As a teenager, I fell in love with writing, of figuring out the precise words to use to convey my thoughts and feelings on paper. I didn’t know at that age that my creativity was a gift that would later turn into something much deeper for me. However, it would take a shattered dream to open my eyes to that gift.
Growing up, I dreamed of getting married and having a family. It seemed to happen for nearly everyone. I just assumed it would happen for me, too. I never thought the rejection I suffered in school would continue into adulthood, but it did. I was 33 years old before I had my first boyfriend. After dating for six months, we got engaged. Within a month of the engagement, the relationship was over and my spirit was beyond shattered.
One afternoon shortly after, I was sorting through papers and saw the first bridal magazine I had bought after getting engaged. The heartbroken part of me wanted to throw it out, but the design lover in me kept looking at the gorgeous hand-lettering on the cover. I decided to sit down and try my hand at lettering some Scripture. I desperately needed to be reminded of God’s faithfulness during a time when I could barely drag myself out of bed.
As I began creating the letter forms, I felt myself start to breathe a little easier and my mind slow down. As the weeks and months went by, I found myself spending more and more time hand-lettering. It became an escape for me. Writing out Bible verses and song lyrics became my therapy, a way for me to be reminded of God’s promises even when I didn’t feel them—a way for me to be reminded that there were still things to be grateful for even when my world felt painfully dark.
I soon started diving into the world of modern calligraphy taking classes online and reading books and blogs on the subject. That was almost two years ago. My lettering has now evolved into hand-lettered wooden signs, canvases and glass art.
The hand-lettered words on my pieces are much more than just pretty handwriting to me. Those words remind me of the true things in life. The creative art of lettering helped me begin to find gratefulness again and it continues to. My dream of marriage and motherhood still hasn’t happened, but there is comfort to be found in the simple act of creating letter. There is something powerful about writing out words that helps strengthen their meanings in your heart and mind.
Take some time this week to create a hand-lettered piece of art. Simply write some words on paper, canvas, wood or glass. Maybe it’s a favorite Scripture, song lyric or a quote. Turn those words into a work of art and those simple letters will transform into something much more powerful. A truth to hold onto. And in the process of creating, you just might find a little more gratefulness.
Brooke Smith lives in Indiana and works full-time in the publishing industry. She spends her evenings hand-lettering, working with middle school girls as a small group leader, spending time with family and friends and watching her favorite show Nashville. Follow her on Instagram @brooken615 and visit her Etsy shop here.