They come to class to learn and they’re quite determined.
They want to mimic every little stroke I make. They copy my moves carefully. They analyze where my strokes start and where they stop; they count how many flicks it takes me to fill the space. Some even ask me to measure how long each flick is. They swoop when I swoop and dot precisely where I dot.
Students try to duplicate everything about my coloring.
Except in all my years of teaching, not one student has ever stood up.
Nobody puts their project on their chest and tries coloring upside down and backwards.
Which is strange.
They really think they're copying me exactly, move for move, and yet no one has noted that I'm doing it upside-down and backwards.
They’re all focused on what I’m doing without ever stopping to consider how I’m doing it.
And the how is more important, vastly more important than the number, the length, and the size of my strokes.
Remember when I said that I usually can’t tell whether I colored something in a demo or at home?
That’s because I color the same sitting down at a table as I do standing up.
I color from the elbow and shoulder
So it doesn’t matter where I am or what the furniture is like. You could hang me from a bungee cord over a pit of rabid sharks and I could still crank out a decent flick stroke because I color with my whole arm rather than my fingers.
Coloring from the elbow? Coloring from the fingers?
What does that mean?
Well, pull out a Copic and draw a small square. Now color that square in.
Go ahead and try it.
Right now, draw a 1 inch square and color it in. I’ll wait until you’re done.
Did you color the square? Good. Now think about what movements you used to fill in that square.
Which parts of your hand and arm were moving?
Need to color another square to find out? That’s okay. I’ll wait again.
Okay, so you colored both squares.
Now I’m going to make a few educated guesses about what was going on. Ready?
- You sat down at a table- because sitting stabilizes your body and the table stabilizes your arm.
- You pressed the entire length of your forearm (from elbow to wrist) directly to the table, adding even more stabilization.
- You lifted your wrist but that was really only to elevate the marker over the square. Aside from that hovering, you locked your wrist.
- For those of you who didn’t hover, you rested the entire pinkie side of your hand against the paper- and if you didn’t lock your wrist, you made every effort to keep it still and stable.
- All of the coloring motion came from the movement in your knuckles- primarily your thumb, index, and middle fingers.
And all of that stabelization and support is why you make teeny tiny, up-tight, constipated looking projects.