A is for...

So here we go... A is the first letter of the alphabet.

A is for Art, Adventure and Asemic

A stands for ART, the thing each of us reading this post have in common: we love art, make art in some or other form and it evokes something in us all. Art is subjective and personal.

Art is not a thing, it is a way!

– Elbert Hubbard.

A also stands for ADVENTURE. At the start of this course it is important to view this month-long journey as an adventure and a process of discovering new things, trying different approaches to create art.

Finally A is the first letter of the concept for today’s project, ASEMIC.

Asemic Writing

In essence asemic means 'having no specific semantic content’. It looks like writing, but the content is generally illegible. It’s almost related to those marks you make when you try out a pen for the first time on a scrap of paper. Intuitive scribble or doodle marks that look a bit like writing. Asemic writing as a concept is wide, applicable in many ways. From abstract, symbolical, trans-linguistically, poetry, calligraphy to almost legible; in principle it is using the shapes of intuitive formed letters as an artform.

The concept of Asemic writing is wide, so here’s a link to explain in more detail, as well as visual inspiration.



Mini Project

  • Choose a material you like to draw with. Avoid pencil if possible as no erasing is allowed: making ‘mistakes’ is good, it shows you are learning.

  • Use a pen, sharpie, paintbrush or dip pen have a go at writing shapes on no more than two sheets of paper.

  • The objective is to create free yet controlled marks that you feel embody your handwriting.

  • If the total abandonment of text and content is hampering your process, try your hand at writing some poetry or a chapter from a magazine or book you are reading.

To get yourself inspired, maybe use the quote Art is not a thing, it’s a way… Expand on what art means to you, what words come into your head? Jot them down but don’t dwell on it, just a few is fine.

Now have a go at asemic writing using these words. Do it a few times, also try doing it with closed eyes. Trust your hands to do the writing. Move the paper in different directions, write sideways or in a grid. What appeals to you? Explore possibilities: elongate, distort, and enjoy inventing shapes that will trick eyes into thinking it’s a form of handwriting. Change the scale: go big or small... mix it up.

More Options

Try it with your name or letters you like the shape of (I love the letters F and Z). Add a few vowel round shapes and play with just a few letters at first. Observe the way you write, maybe use this as a feature exploring the letter shapes. Try it in your sketchbook first and then use either a dip pen or paintbrush to write/paint letters. Try it on a variety of surfaces: smooth paper, water colour paper, tissue paper etc.


To review how you write versus what you write and to use letters as marks linked to expressive art. Writing and letter shapes are a powerful option as an expressive art form.

There are forty six different alphabets and writing systems used in the world today all with their own shapes to convey meaning. Many of them are visually very beautiful, an art form in itself.

This is an exercise: you are trying something new and it does not have to be pretty. Enjoy this mark making and playing with the shapes that come easily and use them in new ways.

Words and phrases to keep in mind: nonsensical, aesthetics, flowing marks, mark making, visual appeal, repetition, pattern, overlapping, strokes, lines, curves, expression, sensitive, calligraphically, unique, scale, flowing.

You're welcome to share your outcomes in the group’s Facebook page. Please don't post course material or outcomes to other public Internet sites or to social media.

#creativeleap #asemic #aisfor #writing

© 2020 Esté MacLeod

© 2020 Explore Colour