There’s much talk in the calligraphic world about freedom vs. discipline — and mini-battles sometimes take place between those who advocate disciplined, legible work and those who prefer expressive, abstract and/or illegible work.
It seems to me that calligraphers — more than most artists — are like athletes. Our work depends on years of disciplined practice, but comes down to “a performance”, a given moment when tool touches down on paper, vellum or canvas. A crucial moment because ink is indelible. Too loose and we make a mess. Too tight and the performance appears strained.
So, like athletes, are we not wise to cross-train? Like a runner who lifts weights, we can retain freshness, balance and longevity if we vary our workouts. Sometimes, a disciplined workshop where we focus on form, later a crazy experiment which may or may not work. Always, at the end, a bit of analysis of what worked and what didn’t.
Yes, there is the risk of the inexperienced calligrapher who might “injure” themselves by flourishing long before they have the skill to pull it off, just as a runner might strain a muscle. It will set back their career, leave them floundering for a bit. But it is also part of the process of learning to find the sweet spot where spontaneity meets control and the results soar.