Joined 1 month ago

400 Reputation

malcress's Sketchbook

  • Sharing the Knowledge
    9:29 PM, Sunday September 24th 2023

    Oh sorry I didn't elaborate on the source of the pain. My best guess is that it's a combination of many factors, especially these:

    1 - broke my left arm (around the elbow) as a kid and didn't have it in a cast so it's very crooked and although a specialist said it's just a cosmetic issue, I beg to differ because in some specific exercises/movements, it's not smooth or in the worst case I can't do the movement (I can't do push-ups, every other exercise is do-able except for this, it's like my left wrist/elbow just blocks the movement)

    2 - as a teen I played a lot of volleyball for a couple years which is one of the worst sports regarding injuries, literally all of my colleagues had at least 1 long-term injury (hand/wrist/feet/ankle) so I'm surprised I don't have one but my fingers are significantly more crooked and it definitely strained my arms in general

    3 - I've been playing on the guitar for over 10 years and during those 1st 8 years I spent all of my free time practicing, which is also a huge strain on the left hand, and after like 5 years the wrist pains started so this was probably the last straw lol

    4 - Even though I started drawing seriously/more often only after the pain started, I have struggled with holding my pen wrong (as a kid I self-learned to hold it very tightly between my middle and ring finger) but thanks to taking it seriously and researching, I've learned to hold it in a more sustainable and efficient way (otherwise I wouldn't be able to control the pressure) so I don't think it's a factor anymore

    Regarding what I use when drawing in various ways, I do both large and small (from 1:1 paper for figure drawing for uni up to A5 sketchbooks), use my whole arm (though with Drawabox I'm learning to use my whole arm for smaller scaled strokes and on a desktop instead of an easel for life drawing) up to the fingers, use the writing grip mostly and the overhand grip for larger/smoother lines or curves.

    Oh we do have a powerball in the house, haven't used it yet but I'll give it a go to see if it adds more support! As for PC usage, I do spend a lot of time on it, but I've never had any issues so far, except for exam season where I'm writing a ton of notes or an essay/thesis for which I arm myself with multiple braces, definitely recommend if one can't exactly afford to rest, it's doable in the short term.

    I only have a gel mousepad and rest my arms a lot as my chair's arm rests are at an ideal level when using a keyboard (in the under-the-desk drawer) but in the near future I'm definitely gonna buy a vertical mouse and I do dream of training my non-dominant hand to write and draw.

    Thank you for all your points and tips, it's always a plus to know more and be more aware of things one already does.

    3:19 PM, Thursday September 21st 2023

    I think it's very likely it's "just" gonna take more time for you to get through this skillset of this course/challenge. I'd try countering feeling bad about your weakness with being more aware of your strengths or even just success/improvement in general, maybe even writing it down as a visual reminder in your workspace. Or whenever you start thinking of said weakness, you could try to think about a way to solve it/deal with it (aka "That's just how it is, with practice and time it will improve, there's nothing else I can do about this, worrying is just bringing me down and preventing me from practicing.") and slowly substitute the "bad thought" with the thought with the "solution". A bit of CBT spice haha. Regarding strengths, I'd mix drawing subjects/using techniques where you (primarily) use your strengths with the Drawabox homework so that you do draw with a higher probability of enjoying the process. I'm doing something similar actually, as technicality is my weakest point in art in general.

    3:06 PM, Thursday September 21st 2023

    Happy to help! There's a lot more of these on YouTube, in case you'd like to try more or they don't feel effective/relieving.

    Thank you so much! Yeah that's gonna be the hardest part of the challenge ngl, time to play around with my drawing routine.

    3:01 PM, Thursday September 21st 2023

    That's a good point, sort of like zen for drawing. I'll be mindful of that.

    3:00 PM, Thursday September 21st 2023

    Hello and thanks a lot for your helpful critique!

    Yup, balancing out patience and overdoing it (for example when I ghost the same line for the 20th time my hand and mind start shooting errors at me) is quite the challenge, so far I do a couple ghosted lines (like 10 at max but I try not to count it) and either commit to the stroke or give the hand a 1-3 second rest where I relax all the muscles of my arm and repeat the process. I'll also start doing hand/arm warm-ups before each session and see how that goes, and if that won't work out, I'll try drawing after working out.

    Regarding speed, I'm experimenting with that a lot, both when ghosting and striking the lines. Just as you say though, higher speed has a better chance of being nice and straight in my current situation. Sometimes I do it too fast and the line looks just as slacked-off as the slow wobbly ones haha. It's gonna be fun to see how flexible one can get regarding confident lines no matter the speed, I didn't actually know this so thank you for the "future insight"!

    I do tend to have lines/ellipses shorter/smaller than the destination rather than overshooting it, huh. I'll try countering it with overshooting it then and hope the same logic as with lines that curve in only one direction works here.

    Regarding Organic Perspective, I can see that now, thank you. I was very focused on getting the hang of this one type of box instead of adding more variety, so I'll work on that during the 250 boxes challenge along with the warm-up drawing exercises.

    5:52 PM, Monday September 18th 2023

    No worries!

    Oh yes I need structure but I'm absolutely terrible at making my own daily regime (aka if someone else doesn't give me a deadline that has serious consequences on my life, my brain simply does not take it as a necessity), it's one of the hardest struggles I've been going through regarding therapy tbh. I hope you're doing better in this area.

    I actually do have a wrist brace for my recurring wrist tendinitis but I've learned the hard way I can't overuse it either, so for me personally it's best to only put it on for like 24 hrs at max. when it relapses, and then carry on with the hand like nothing's wrong with it (it's like half-psychological so it's basically another chance to trick my brain). Though I did use it as a preventative measure when studying for finals (I study best by writing it out, so I've never written so much in my life haha).

    That's so good to hear that you're strengthening your hands too! I've been working out my whole upper body (especially arms, shoulders, back) a lot more these last few months and there's definitely an improvement in how much my hands and shoulders can take regarding drawing, so I recommend doing this as well.

    I feel this so much, burning out happens to me all the time because I prefer doing one big activity than doing multiple ones from different areas of study/movement in a single day as it takes longer to get into the zone so it pays off, however overdoing this causes burnout, so I'm trying to find a way to do more activities in a day while avoiding losing focus/energy, so like balancing out physical movement (cleaning, working out) with studying (school, foreign languages) and half of both worlds (drawing, guitar) that seems to gradually (veeery slowly) work more and more. You could give this a go as well. For example, I'm planning to study random objects around the house to keep practicing boxes and ellipses but make it more fun and not as technical. Still haven't got to it but yeah doing only Drawabox longterm will burn me out so my alarms are slowly starting to ring oops. Oh and I'll also try mixing it with stuff like gesture studies so that I also practice more spontaneous and intuitive drawing to counter all the straight lines and ghosting. Let me know if you have any updates, I hope you do find a method of practicing art that works for you!

    5:27 PM, Monday September 18th 2023

    First of all, thank you so much for your time and effort, it means a lot to me! Your critique is also absolutely ADHD-proof, I love how clear and straight to the point it is!

    1. I can see that now, thanks for pointing that out. I can also see a pattern where some of these starting points are "nicely and regularly assembled" next to each other in a diagonal kind of way, so I'll pay extra attention to that haha.

        1. That's nice to hear, thank you.
    2. Completely agree, I can't say how much of it was my fineliners drying out VS shakiness/not being used to it, but when I compare the 1st page of the Organic Perspective exercise (crappy drying-out fineliners along with having no clue how to visualize the box edges crossing at an outside-the-canvas vanishing point) with the 2nd Page (where I finally got new higher-quality fineliners + I like to think I'm understanding box-generation a little better + I got more comfortable and playful with the composition and increased the amount of boxes), I do sense quite a difference and cannot wait to see how far I can go with the upcoming 250 boxes.

    3. Funnily enough, I actually do a lot of hand/arm exercises and stretches during the day (I have a randomly recurring left wrist tendinitis that I'm trying to keep at bay (just posted some recommendations here:, I never actually stretched my hands as a warmup before drawing (or other hobbies, like playing guitar, writing or in general just typing on a pc), so thank you for the tip. Do you have an estimate in how much your hand stability improved when drawing with these stretches? Because I've realized my shakiness could be due to my hyperactivity where my whole body is shaking with intense emotion (like excitement, stress) which is great during intense activities but ghosting and drawing can be a hustle.

    Again, thank you for your feedback and I hope you're doing well! And congratulations on completing L1 and the 250 boxes! They've gotten much cleaner and more accurate as a whole! It's also interesting how even the pages have less splotches, another aspect to look forward to for my messy hands haha.

    0 users agree
    11:32 AM, Saturday September 16th 2023

    As someone with ADHD as well, what generally helps me with learning/sticking with something difficult to focus on long-term is to find the fun aspects of it. Even if I have to dig up the smallest little details about it, heck, even create them on my own. Sometimes I "just" have to trick my brain into hyperfocus mode. When I was studying for uni graduation exams a few months ago, I was terrified because studying goes heavily against my nature of learning, especially as I became quite disgusted with the field of study. So, I started searching for what interests me in the subject (it was art history, printmaking and software for designers) - e.g. my favorite artists, looking up more on artists or art movements that seem interesting or relatable (I was able to discover so many new favorites this way), trying to find connections with other special interests I have (Japanese, so I found out more about the European fascination of Japanese woodblocks and incorporating this visual style into their own work; or mental health, where I read through how da Vinci had a considerable amount of ADHD symptoms that caused him many many problems). This did increase the amount of time studying but it was definitely worth it as I gained more for myself which I will remember for years instead of forgetting all my knowledge right as I finish the exam. Now, this may not work for everyone, and it took me a lot of therapy sessions and self reflection to get to such a level of "control". However, I believe it's still worth it to at least try and see how far you can get, so that even if you quit this method or activity you're trying to do, you still gain some insight about how your brain works and how to use it to your own advantage.

    Regarding Drawabox itself, I started about a month ago so I still can't say if I'll stick with it (my limit is around 2 months) but I'm trying to focus on the feeling of increasing my hand stability and visual focus more and more with every ghosting and every stroke. I could compare it to meditation in a way, where I become aware of the movement, tension and relaxedness of the parts of my body controlling the drawing process. I keep testing what and how much I need to have a certain body part relaxed or tensed in order to ghost/draw in the most efficient way regarding accuracy, saving energy and avoiding pain. I keep balancing out how to properly "let the hand do the stroke" without letting go too much so that it's shoddy. Another important aspect is to figure out one's time limit for these exercises. I tend to finish the exercise in one sitting because my focus is already set, and so far it worked for most of the exercises of Lesson 1 (just finished L1 yesterday), however it became a problem with the last exercise where it took me a lot more time and effort to go through it, and it seemed my hands were uncontrollable, so I did the 2 pages in about 4 sessions instead of 1 or 2.

    I hope this will help at least a little, you can also ask me about specifics if needed, or anything ADHD-related. Wishing you strength and patience regarding the 250 box challenge!

    Edit: Oh you just finished the challenge, congratulations! That's some massive persistence right there!

    10:56 AM, Saturday September 16th 2023

    That's a relief haha, thank you! That is one of the reasons, though in my case of ADHD it's more about the differentiating texture being distracting. For example, when a "stroke-to-be" is too close to the edge of the paper, my hand has to go from the surface of the paper to the desk (or any other surface, basically) and change the hovering/stroke-making speed to align with that of the paper.

    The art glove is also very effective at keeping hand sweat/oil from ruining the paper (which I struggle with a lot as it prevents ink or any art tool from sticking to the paper, and smoothens the paper texture as well), so to anyone with a similar problem, I really recommend this.

The recommendation below is an advertisement. Most of the links here are part of Amazon's affiliate program (unless otherwise stated), which helps support this website. It's also more than that - it's a hand-picked recommendation of something I've used myself. If you're interested, here is a full list.
Faber Castell PITT Artist Pens

Faber Castell PITT Artist Pens

Like the Staedtlers, these also come in a set of multiple weights - the ones we use are F. One useful thing in these sets however (if you can't find the pens individually) is that some of the sets come with a brush pen (the B size). These can be helpful in filling out big black areas.

Still, I'd recommend buying these in person if you can, at a proper art supply store. They'll generally let you buy them individually, and also test them out beforehand to weed out any duds.

This website uses cookies. You can read more about what we do with them, read our privacy policy.