Everyday Matters Drawing Challenge 43

This is another of the EDM drawing challenges. I decided to tackle #43 draw something china or ceramic. The image is a thumbnail so click on it if you want to see it larger and in all it glory. I know it is not very interesting but it is interesting process trying to re-establish a drawing practice after years of working on a computer. Apart from the task of trying to create a new habit in my life much of what I am re-learning is about muscle memory.

EDM Drawing Challenge 43 sketch

When I talk about Muscle memory, I am not talking about gymnastics or any sort of sports activity, but the type of memory developed over time when a particular physical task is repeated constantly until you can do it without thinking. The idea is to be able to handle a pencil, pen or brush well enough for it to feel totally natural and unforced so that you can pay attention to what you are drawing rather than the tool you are using. Sounds simple but it takes time to understand what marks various tools make and the build up the  muscle memory associated with making marks with them.

EDM Drawing Challenge 43 processAnyway as I was drawing this sugar pot,  I was thinking about muscle memory and remembered how being able to draw an elipse often frustrates people.

If in spare moments you doodle a number of ellipses – loop upon loop, upon loop, until your hand ‘remembers’ the process, then the task of drawing an ellipse is easier. Muscle memory will get stronger the more you do it.

holdingn pencilThe trick for most drawing is to hold the pencil further up the shaft and draw from the shoulder. What do I mean by drawing from the shoulder ?

If you hold a pencil like you do when writing, when you draw a line, circle or an ellipse it will be more difficult, and you are likely to create a wobble in your line. However if you move your hand up the shaft of the pencil you will find it is easier.

If you move just your wrist it will cramp your hand. Instead draw using your elbow and move your shoulder if you need to. In other words use your whole arm and draw from the shoulder and it will be easier to create lines and circles.

I found a video by Illustrator Shoo Rayner which talks about muscle memory as a reason for drawing regularly. These little exercises he recommends in “Why you Should Practice Drawing” are also a type of meditation which work on the same principal as “Zen Tangles”. I think Zen Tangles are a fun stress free way to establish muscle memory but that is another topic.

Anyway those are my thoughts today on drawing, muscle memory and habits. I hope you enjoyed my little ramble.

If you are interested, here is  the EDM challenge list  and if you scroll you can see my past efforts. The Every Day Matters drawing challenge has  a yahoo group, a flickr group and Facebook page.

Tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Everyday Matters Drawing Challenge 43

  1. Jules says:

    That is a fab post, and really helpful information. Thanks so much for sharing Sharon – (love the sketch too!)

  2. Nice pot! I have one or two (dozen) that would be good to use as ‘models’.=)

    Love the vid too. It’s a good way to get started, just doing those squares. I’ll have to see if I can get to it….

  3. Marysia says:

    Vert interesting, Sharon. Must put into practice what you say. I am one of those people who say ‘I cannot draw’ but perhaps if ai practised I might eventually produce something worthwhile.

  4. Maureen Bond says:

    You make drawing look so easy but I know it takes a lot of practise to do it well. Your tips are good.
    Thank you for the video link, which I’ll make use of. I’ve bookmarked Shoo Rayner’s site too.

  5. Laura says:

    Thank you for your reminder to get back to “muscle memory”! It’s exactly what I need right now. Even on busy days, one can take a 15 minute break to exercise the artistic muscles.

  6. Christina says:

    Great advice Sharon. I had to do some freehand drawing units when I was studying architecture and our lecturer always made us start with this exercise: butcher paper/newsprint on the easel, charcoal or pencil in hand and from the shoulder draw big – arcs, circles, ellipses, lines whatever, for about 5-10 minutes. Then we could get down to the smaller more detailed drawing.

  7. Juno says:

    Thanks for the post and the quick tutorial. I found the tip about how to hold the pencil very useful. The video clip is nice too.

  8. Mitch says:

    I’ve watched lots of Shoo’s videos but hadn’t come across that one yet. Thanks, and I like your EDM challenge drawings!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *