Have you ever heard about drawing with your shoulder instead of your wrist?

I know this sounds counterintuitive. Your whole life, you’ve been writing with your wrist.

So artists naturally draw the same way they write. (Unless of course instructed otherwise by their art teacher).

Now, not totally discounting drawing with your wrist. It’s actually great for fine details.

However, for long strokes, you’ll more than likely end up having to cut your strokes, rather than drawing with one single stroke.

Drawing with your shoulder makes it easier to draw one long stroke.

Where does this make a difference?

If all your drawings are small (like 6″x6″) or if they’re all nothing but fine details, then you can safely dismiss this article. However, if you draw big, you’ll want to try this technique.

My watercolor paintings and my drawings are generally 18″x24″. The girls often take up most of the artwork.

I draw (and paint) big. I also use gesture drawings, which means long lines.

If I drew exclusively with my wrist, I’d have choppy long lines. However, I don’t. I draw the long lines with my shoulders.

At first, drawing with your shoulder is awkward. Not going to lie and tell you it’s easy. It’s not!

But you’ll need to practice long strokes, drawing with your shoulders rather than your wrist.

That means moving your entire arm, not just the hand. The shoulder controls the arm. The wrist controls the hand.

How to practice

I buy copy paper by 750 sheets. Target sells it cheaply.

It’s one of the most affordable practice papers.

I do a lot of warmups every morning. I start every morning off with coffee, Romanian lessons, piano, one chapter of the Bible, and gesture drawings. Over the years, I’ve photographed dozens of nude models and literally have thousands of pictures I can use for reference.

If you don’t have reference photos, there are plenty of online sites you can use. Or just use an image search. I’ll eventually create a course on drawing nudes via gesture drawings rather than traditional methods. The course will include model references for you.

If you don’t know what gesture drawings are, I highly advise you learn them. They’ll for one, make your figure drawing faster. And second, they give your figure drawings way more feel!

I like using a musical analogy. You’ll hear two people play the same piece on the piano, guitar, or violin. Both of them play it technically correct. But one of them is way better to your ears. That’s because the better musician plays with feeling. She actually feels the music and you can literally hear the difference.

Anyways, practice drawing straight lines, squiggly lines, circles, and other shapes with your shoulder rather than your wrist. Make the strokes with your whole arm.

It’s not natural. I totally get it. You’ve been writing with your wrist since you were a small child.

After awhile though, it will become natural.

Now like I’ve said earlier, I still use my wrist for fine details. But for longer strokes, I’m drawing with my shoulders.

Categories: Art technique


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