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Get out some paper and dust off your pen because the Smithsonian’s The Art of Handwriting online exhibit (via Like Fire) will make you itch to write a letter or at the least a short note.

The exhibit showcases forty-five letters from the Smithsonian’s Archives of American Art. The letters are written by artists the likes of Mary Cassat, Georgia O’Keefe, Willem de Kooning and Winslow Homer. I expected the handwriting to be gorgeous since these were artists, and some of them are. Dan Flavin has a gorgeous hand. Maxfield Parrish really knows how to add flourish. And Louis Lozowick has a tidy script that is pleasant to look at and easy to read.

But just because one is an artist doesn’t mean one’s handwriting is legible. George Catlin had quite the scrawl. Marcel Duchamp’s writing makes my hand cramp just looking at it. And Jackson Pollock gave me a headache from squinting and trying to decipher his words.

It all makes me feel so good about my own handwriting. You see, you can use these letters two ways. The ones with beautiful print or script you can say, well sure, these people are artists! And the ones will barely legible hands you can say, ha! I write better than that famous artist! See how you can fit yourself into a happy, self-satisfied in between?

Check it out, enjoy, and write a letter to someone. Both you and the recipient will be glad for it.

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