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8 Ergonomic art practices

Fading tail lights in the morning night. I woke with that in my head today.

My hands ache today. I have carpal tunnel so busy days at work always leaves my hands sore. You wouldn't think clicking a mouse all day would be that big of a deal.

When it first started to really bother me in my early 30s I used to get so frustrated. I'd have trouble holding my brushes and pens. I would have a bit of a shake after a few minutes of starting on the bad days.

In those days it would have been easier to just walk away from art. If you find yourself reading this blog though you probably know that feeling of needing to create. It really wasn't an option for me. I would spend the next few years trying different things and different ways of holding things. Practicing different ways I could make straight lines with a shaking hand. It was like learning it all over again.

One night, a few years ago in Budapest, I tripped on my own feet, and the way I landed strangely fixed it. Well once I healed that is. It was pretty good until last year when it started getting worse again.

Cue my ever eloquent movements and once again I tripped on my own feet. Only this time in Paris 🤣. Sadly it didn't fix it but it did improve it a bit.

This week I ended up taking two days off to rest them up. I was only doing things with my hands that were necessary. When I woke up this morning I just had to do something. Painting, pastels and charcoals tend to be the easier on my wrists just because of how I hold them. I think the nice thing about practicing is you never feel like you need to be perfect. So charcoal practice for me today.

I've been completely neglecting my writing also but at some point I need to just power through for my own sanity.

So what ergonomics did I ever up adapting? Seeing how that's the title of this blog.

1. Stretches

I do simple stretches for my wrists and shoulders. Most of my issues come from stress. I carry my stress in the shoulders, which cause the muscles to pinch my nerves? I think that's what the physio guy said so don't quote me on that. So taking mini breaks to just stretch out helps a lot.

2. Don't slouch or hunch

I'm so guilty of this one. To this day I still have to remind myself to sit up straight when I get engrossed with something.

3. Move from the shoulders

I never realized how much effort it put on my wrists and forearms before I learned to draw from my shoulder. This one lesson has been one of the biggest helps.

4.Support your wrists when doing detailed work.

I started supporting my wrist in an effort to stop shaking so much. And found it took the strain I was putting on my wrist, in the attempt to overcompensate for my shortfall, to a manageable level.

5.Holding your tools overhand not tripod

The way they teach you in elementary school to hold a pencil (the tripod grip) is so much harder on your hands and wrists. I used to find videos of artist working with an overhand grip hard to watch and then first trying it even harder to do. I definitely still haven't mastered it to the extent I'd like to but this was a life saver. Or should I say wrist saver.

6.Working with your paper/canvas/etc. At an angle or standing up.

I'm sure there is tons of benefits for this. Science type things that I never bothered to research. From my personal experience I found this one was helpful in keeping me from hunching over my work. I don't know quite why but I also find my paintings more precise when I stand. Honestly though I tend to sit a lot more than I stand.

7.Taking breaks

I used to tend not to take a lot of breaks. When I got in that groove. 18 hour sessions were the norm. I guess the benefit of having to stop and stretch or rest is that it gives me perspective. When you step back and come back to the picture you get a different perspective of it. Not only that but in some ways I find I have more stamina. Not to mention that feeling of being hit by a train at the end of the session just doesn't hit as hard. Leaving me ready to go again the next day.

8. And a General ones like lift from your legs or do multiple load

Packing supplies and awkward packages can be one of those things that tweak my back. Sometimes it's a pain to unpack it and make a few more trips but in the long run still better than a pain in the back.

If you would like any clarity on this list feel free to ask in the comments. Let me know what you do, whether in art or in your day to day. And just a reminder this is not medical advice just personal opinion. Things I've done and noticed in myself.

Jackie ❤️

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Also, be mindful how tightly you grip your drawing utensil or brush.

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I tend to do that when I'm inking a piece. Constantly reminding myself to relax lol

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