The oval form:

The Oval form

The oval form holds a significant role in the art of flourishes. It’s a fundamental shape that provides a basis for many elegant and dynamic flourishes and also for many letters.

Before we dive into a list of several reasons, why ovals have this significant role in creating effective and visually appealing flourishes, i want to talk about the habbits of Platt Roger Spencer, the founder of the Spencerian Script Style, which is famous for its opulent flourishes.

Spencerien Script by calligrapher Gagnpreet Singh

Spencerian Script Style by Gaganpreet/India

Platt Roger Spencer was born in 1800 and grew up in a poor family. He did not have the tools we have today for calligraphy, but he already had a great passion for it.

Without these tools, he was forced to use what he had around him. So any tool was good enough, and sometimes he would get creative and find new kinds of tools. He loved to go out into nature for inspiration, especially to rivers to look for stones with the perfect oval shape.

Harmony & curves

The curved shape of the oval suggests a sense of continuous, graceful movement. This is essential for creating flourishes that flow smoothly and effortlessly around letters or other elements.

A good balance and right proportion

Ovals provide a harmonious balance between height and width. This balance is crucial in creating embellishments that are visually pleasing and well proportioned in relation to the text or design they accompany.

Word 'Aperolista' with flourishes

A useful versatility of the oval

Ovals can be stretched or compressed to create a wide range of variations. This versatility allows designers to adapt flourishes to different contexts and styles, making them suitable for different applications.

The base for any creation

The oval shape provides a strong foundation upon which designers can build more intricate and detailed embellishments. It can be used as a starting point for adding loops, spirals and other embellishments.

Guiding the observer’s eye

Ovals have a classic and timeless aesthetic that adds an element of sophistication to flourishes. Their smooth, curved lines exude a sense of refinement and grace, enhancing the overall visual appeal.

The natural curve suggests a direction of movement. This can be used strategically to guide the eye in a particular direction, helping to direct the viewer’s gaze along the scroll.

Ovals are part of many letterforms

Ovals can harmonise with letterforms, especially those with round elements such as ‘o’, ‘e’ and ‘g’. This allows flourishes to blend seamlessly with the typography, creating a cohesive and unified design.

Symbolic impact

Ovals can have symbolic meaning, representing concepts such as unity, wholeness and eternity. Incorporating this symbolism into flourishes can add depth and layers of interpretation to the design.

The importance of the oval in history

Ovals have been used in ornamental design for centuries and are part of the design traditions of different cultures. Drawing on this historical significance can add depth and richness to the visual language of the flourish.

flourished composition 'The beauty of the oval'

The rounded shape of the oval gives a sense of stability and grounding. This is important in counterbalancing the more intricate and dynamic elements within the design.

Consistent practice

For artists and designers, practising ovals is a fundamental skill-building exercise. Mastering the creation of ovals helps to develop control over hand movements and brushwork, which is essential for creating more complex embellishments.

You see always the oval form in flourishes and letters like in this composition 'Can't live without the curve'

In summary, the oval shape is a cornerstone in the world of flourishes, providing a foundation for elegance, movement, balance and artistic expression. Its versatility and aesthetic appeal make it an indispensable tool for designers seeking to create captivating and harmonious flourishes in their work.

When I first started making letters and flourishes, I wondered why my work didn’t look like the beautiful pieces I saw on Instagram.

I tried again and improved my letters, maybe a more skewed angle, more consistent shapes, but the flourishes did not look any better. By closely observing how the ovals formed the curlicues, I understood the nature of their form and subsequently the importance of harmonious curves to create beautiful ovals.

You might be interested in this blogpost on “Learn how  to flourish”.