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.
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.
Anyway 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.
The 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.