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Getting a grip!

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Regular practice and the refinement of form are core aspects of Dynamic Drawing. Without it you will not get much out of simply attending a few classes and drawing very little or with little structure and intention the rest of the time.

Remember to approach the work as study. Don’t worry about how good the end result will be necessary as you do the process. Identify the thing/skill/technique you want to learn or refine when you are studying. And focus on that.

I like to stress the difference between study and doing. When we do a thing, like say walk. Most of us do it without thought. But that was not automatic exactly. We’re built to do it, but we also have to learn the motor skills needed. Make them muscle memory. And then we can act spontaneously. The more we practice the greater our skill.

Art, is the same. I believe drawing well primarily takes structured dedicated practice. Anyone able to hold a tool and make marks can learn to make more skilled marks. And the more informed your eyes and hands are, the better.

One of the first things we want look at in our skill and tool set, is our basic interface with the process. In traditional drawing, and to varying degrees in digital art, your grip is hugely impactful on the kinds, quality and range of lines and marks you can make. That’s what the Video posted here is about. Watch that and check out the handouts below for instruction on the 5 basic grips I encourage in class.

In Dynamic Drawing we’re primarily using analog drawing tools for the moment. Though a large enough tablet could accommodate some of the exercise we do. Frequently the goal is to literally draw big! As in making big movements with our bodies. So tablets and smaller interfaces in general don’t suit it.

Central goal of that is to become familiar with how it feels, and a wide range of motions between. When you want to do it with intention, sketching, working, doing life art.

You will be better at opening up and focusing only on the anatomy and gesture, if you’re not also having to think about what to do with your body in any way. Or limited to only a few ways of physically drawing.

Remember the breathing and hand exercises you will learn in our Tai Chi session, the Qigong. And the Yogic warmups I’ll show you in class one! Use them to relax and focus on the task, how you are holding your tool and what you’re doing with it. It’s a basic form of Mindfulness really.

This is the worst thing if you’re trying to draw SOMETHING, that’s why i encourage doodling and pattern exercises where the goal is only to focus on the technique you’re after and let nothing else worry you.

While doing the Qigong exercises notice your breathing. And start to think about how our posture and the mechanics of our body impact on drawing. Don’t worry about if you believe in Chi or not, the techniques work for what we want them to do regardless.

I think you will find for example, that holding your breath while you draw is common, but it can result if you over do it, to shaking and tends to create tension. It’s also probably just not good for us.

Your body is your tool. If you don’t already, think about using your arm like i showed you in class, from the elbow or wrist. And other parts of your hand and body as well. experiment, explore the way your hand can move.

It’s very common to rest the side of our palm on the paper and use it to stabilize our hand, but it very much limits the kind of forms we can render in a given stroke. You want to learn how to dance on the page with your pen a little. The grips in our handout on day one, and the Chinese calligraphy grip are part of the solution to that. Learning how to use the rest of your body to draw is another.

In short, relax, think about your hand and your grip on your tool. move with your breath.

For many of my students our class is the first time they will start exploring drawing with a brush! Real brushes, not felt tip, are different creatures. While doing the pattern and mark making exercises, drawing things is ok but don’t stop to edit too much, you want to be attending to the kind of marks you can make more than getting something you are drawing right at this stage. If you can resist the urge to turn the repetitive pasterns into things, and just work on the stroke making the mark.

Remember, continuous strokes, unending lines. Moves steadily, as fast as you can comfortably. Don’t worry about end results, focus on the action of drawing. Practice the different grips in the hand out, and take note of the kinds of lines and shapes they enable you to make.

Below you’ll find some downloadable copies of the handouts on grip and some of the terminology we’ll use in the class with visual examples. You’ll find a little bit of art from one of our schools other teachers, Marc Taro Holmes [course] on this handout page here.

It comes from a great post about drawing a live dancer, where he makes some very excellent observations of the process of working with a dynamic subject. Good preparational reading material for our class i think, and Marc’s work is just a joy to look at anyway.

See you in class!

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