Would Appreciate Advice on Drawing with an Injury

10:53 PM, Wednesday March 22nd 2023


So 3 years ago I had a catastrophic shoulder injury and tore it in three different places. It required surgery and has never ever been the same. Even after a year of rehab, it still gets arthritic in humid weather and generally hurts every day.

The thing is, my left shoulder never bothered me with drawing, until now with DrawABox. I recently started a warehouse job that leaves my shoulder feeling extra crackly and arthritic afterwards (only my left). This has affected my drawing, since DrawABox has taught me to draw with my shoulder. Pre-warehouse there was no issue with drawing.

I'm on box 189 and have been sort of gritting my teeth, but I need to stop. My shoulder cracks 5-7 times after every line I draw now and can sometimes be heard across the room. I'm not tensing or anything like that, and this only happens after working the warehouse (which is almost everyday) and only with fine motor skills, never when lifting anything heavy.

I'm a bit at a loss because my line quality has become so much worse. It was getting so good!

Now, I'm not sure how to proceed.

I can't quit the warehouse job for the next 4-5 years because they are paying for every expense of my degree (which I need if I ever want to be out of the warehouse). It's also the only job I can find around me and has crucial benefits.

Another surgery is out of the question for me due to expenses as this would only be for drawing. A doctor or whoever would likely tell me to do the stretches I'm already doing, which isn't exactly helpful either. Often, I stretch before drawing, but its usually not enough. Sometimes I stretch for 45 min - 1 hour and am then able to draw 3 boxes. Which, to be honest, I'm not sure if the juice is worth the squeeze there and this isn't possible everyday or even most days, not to mention the 50% rule, too.

The most realistic solution I can think of is to start learning how to draw with my right hand/shoulder. This one has no problems and has never been damaged, torn or sprained. It's a really good right shoulder, not to brag, but it is.

So, I was wondering if anyone had any tips on doing this or if I even should? Perhaps from someone who knew someone with an injury and had to use the other arm. Also, I'm not sure if I should start back from lesson 1 or what I should do, I just know I can't keep drawing with this pain.


4 users agree
12:16 AM, Thursday March 23rd 2023

Unfortunately what you're asking isn't really the sort of thing we can provide advice on - for the simple reason that it's very much a medical question that relates specifically to your condition. The injury you experienced sounds awful, and I am very sorry you have to deal with this - but it would be very irresponsible for anyone here to try and advise you on how to approach this. It really has to be asked to a medical professional who understands the nature of your situation, and who can tell you what kinds of activities are okay to do, and which ones might cause you greater trouble in the future. Until you're able to get that advice, I'd suggest not drawing from your shoulder, given the discomfort you're experiencing.

If your physician feels using your shoulder in this way will exacerbate the issue and should be avoided, there's really no choice but to use your elbow instead. While this isn't ideal, it is still workable and will not preclude you from learning to draw. There will simply be some longer strokes that will be more difficult to execute. It's not something I'd recommend for someone who is able to use their shoulder without risk of aggravating an existing injury, but it's also not a deal-breaker when it comes to drawing. The majority of the strokes we execute in the course of a drawing can still be performed from your elbow - in this course we push for using the shoulder to ensure students aren't blocking themselves off from full use of their arms. Medical concerns are definitely another story, however, and are an entirely valid reason to modify how you follow along with the lessons.

Ultimately, every student needs to take the material, and the feedback they receive based on their results, and understand that it's given based on an ideal situation. It is in some cases, such as this one, necessary to look at that feedback through the lens of your own situation. But absolutely do not force yourself to apply the material without considering what is very clearly a serious situation resulting of considerable injury.

2:23 AM, Wednesday March 29th 2023

Thank you so much for your response. What you've written has been very helpful. I hadn't even thought of drawing with my elbow instead before. While I've recently planned to see a physician for this, I have also tried drawing with my elbow now and did 13 more boxes over the course of 6 days with no pain. The cracking went away when I draw, too. That's been really great and I'm so much happier. I am at box 202 and will continue drawing.

And everything you said is completely understandable. I realize this isn't a great place for this, but its just hard for me imagine a physician knowing enough about drawing to suggest I use my elbow instead, like you did. Almost everyone thinks its done with your hand/wrist (people who do not draw, I mean). What you said has worked. I appreciate it.

Thank you again.

Note: You were right about smaller strokes. I've noticed I can't help but draw my boxes a fair bit smaller than before.

6:05 PM, Wednesday March 29th 2023

While your physician won't know anything about drawing necessarily, they will be able to tell you what hard limits to avoid in terms of how to use your body. You would then take that information and use it as a lens through which to follow the instructions in this course, and which you receive in your feedback.

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