3 March 2001
(pictures in text)
YouCanDraw.com's Insider Communiqué
In today's issue: A simple little warm-up exercise that'll straighten your straights
and curve up your curves
Good day fellow artists!
In this week’s communiqué, you’re going to see a quick little warm-up
exercise. Athletes warm up their whole bodies before a race, singers warm up
their voices, race drivers their cars. What are we warming up? Our drawing
hand, wrist and fingers. And of course, we’ll be warming up our
observational right brains.
So let’s dive in.
Look at picture “warm-up one” below. It’s a plane, it’s a bird, no it’s a
blossom of burrs. Well actually it’s part of a little warm-up I do before I
start drawing. It’s a spoke wheel of straight lines. One after another I
make little straight lines, up and down, back and forth, round and round we
go until viola! a wheel of lines. Variations: spiral, and waves made of the
same up-down lines.
The second picture, “warm-up 2” shows rows and rows of circles. Since
straight lines, circles, and ellipses pretty much encompass every kind of
line you’ll ever draw, it makes sense that drawing and practicing circles,
ellipses, and straight lines will help your drawing. We won’t look at
ellipses today but let’s look a little closer at circles and straight lines.
Now we’re in trouble
I’m left handed. When I draw these little spoke wheels I can both see and
feel two areas where I’m losing control - especially right at the beginning
of the warm-up. Look at “warm-up 3”. You’ll a see “stand alone” spoke
wheel. The arrow shows the direction I’m drawing this, the asterisk (*)
shows the exact point I draw the first line. You’ll also see two zones:
“zone 1” and “zone 2”. These are the two areas I feel at a loss. And it
shows: the lines aren't straight, they get “loopy”. (If you’re right handed,
you probably have mirror-image difficulties.)
What’s going on here? Since I’m backhanded (you know, one of those people
who’s hand looks like a crab claw when they draw or write), those two zones
are the two places where the fingers are working in an unnatural direction -
they’re moving between horizontal and diagonal motions that involve a whole
gang of muscles in the fingers and hand that aren’t too often used in such
fine control. But the body, plastic as it is, can be trained. And that’s why
these are really good exercises for fine control.
We’re going in circles
Here’s the interesting thing: the exact same place I have trouble drawing
the spoke wheels, I have funny things going on in my circles. Look at
“warm-up 4”. The blue pointer fingers point to the exact same spots the
circles go goofy just like “zone 1” and “zone 2” in “warm-up 3”. My circles
start getting a little egg-shaped too.
So what’s the big deal? Why is this important? For instance, I find that
drawing the curve of the eyes or the lip - especially the horizontal part, I
get these little irregularities - in the exact same spots I have problems in
these two warm-ups. And I get frustrated - it’s really bad if I’m dropping
cold into a drawing - it becomes very very obvious. Some times it’s enough
to fire off that little inborn critic to the point where I almost get scared
away from drawing altogether that session. But I’m not a perfectionist (yea
right) :-). That’s where I’ve learned to get rough right back and do my
warm-up and charge right through the mental back talk.
The amazing thing I've discovered is that after 5,6, 10 minutes of drawing
these little circles and spoke wheels of all sizes and variations, my hand
and wrist are ready and warm and feel much more fluid when I get to “really
drawing”. If you do this regularly, both your circles and your straight lines
- drawn at any angle - will show rapid improvement. And since lines and
curves pretty are utilized on all of drawing, so your drawing and drawing
satisfaction will escalate.
Here’s your assignment. Take an extra five or ten minutes at the beginning
of your drawing sessions to do this warm up. So like a singer goes through
her vocal scales, these will be your “manual scales”. Start slow. Don’t
worry about drawing perfect straight lines or perfect circles. But do be
aware of the areas your hand feels a little out of control and how that
manifests in the actual line on the paper. When you identify those spots, go
through them slowly. Do dozens and dozens of repetitions (believe me, this
doesn't take long).
You’ll see rapid progress if you do this, I guarantee it. And, if you’ve
been a little tardy in your weekly drawing practices, this just might be the
little dodge your reluctant, practice avoiding brain needs to get you back
on the drawing board.
Until next time, keep on drawing and have a great week!
Jeffrey O. Kasbohm