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Why Should Senior Artists Bother Drawing By Hand

Denise has been studying and teaching art and painting for 40+ years. She has won numerous prestigious awards for her art and design.

Me sketching from a live model.

Me sketching from a live model.

Why Draw?

In an era of digital manipulation and awesome photography, why would anyone want to go through the slow process of drawing? That’s easy. Drawing helps us to analyze and solve problems. It causes us to face taking risks. It helps strengthen eye to hand coordination. As you get older, like me, these are things that keep the brain active and strong. Your first lines in a drawing aren’t going to be perfect. That’s why we usually put them down lightly, knowing we will change them with several more lines that are more accurate. We are visually tapping into imagination and problem-solving design elements that all people have inside them. If you can doodle, you can draw.

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort.

— Franklin D. Roosevelt

Sketches in pen in my tablet

Sketches in pen in my tablet

Drawing or Gaming

Pencil, ball-point pen, marker, charcoal, colored pencil, etc. No matter the material used, drawing can be very rewarding and invigorating. I would compare it to the typical gaming people enjoy today. Drawing or doodling may not be productive in that many fast sketches are not developed into anything else, like a painting or illustration, but it does stimulate the brain, strengthen the muscles in the eyes, hands, and arms. If it weren’t for creative artists, there would be no gaming platforms that people enjoy today.

Quick sketches at the Dallas Airport

Quick sketches at the Dallas Airport

The Benefits To The Elderly Are Many

When I was teaching watercolor painting to senior citizens, I found the benefits were amazing.

Improved eye-to-hand coordination

Improved concentration

Calming effect/lower blood pressure

Colors invigorate, cool and calm, enrich

Self-esteem boost when friends and family see results

Confidence builder

Reason for leaving the house, interacting with people

Reason for engaging in life and enriching relationships

why-should-senior-artists-bother-drawing-by-hand

The most authentic thing about us is our capacity to create, to overcome, to endure, to transform, to love and to be greater than our suffering.

— Ben Okri

Be Prepared

It is a good idea to carry a small pad of paper and sketching implements with you always. I find sketching while waiting for a dentist or doctor’s appointment is very relaxing. Usually, the dentist waiting room can be a very stressful place, but sketching can take your mind and attention off of the impending exam.

What To Sketch

But what to sketch. The world is full of possibilities. I always find sketching whatever is in front of me to be perfect. Unfortunately, I love to sketch people and they don’t always hold still for me. I used to go to the library and find someone reading. They were fairly still and relaxed. Too often, though, they would get up and walk away before my sketch was done. That’s when I began sketching my own hands or feet.

Sketch of hands from a photo

Sketch of hands from a photo

We have art so that we shall not die of reality.

— Friedrich Nietzsche

Drawing Hands

Get photos of hands in all sorts of poses. After a while, I could see the advantage of two hands together and interacting as hands normally do. I’m glad I did this because two hands interacting became a favorite subject for me. I found feet to be an interesting subject too. Especially baby and children's feet.

Doodle what is in front of you. I saw a lady empty her purse and draw all the little bits and pieces including paper clips, lipstick tubes, candy, coins, keys, and pens. She put these little drawings together in a sort of collage and scanned it into a royalty site, and it sold as wallpaper. You never know what you will get.

Sketch of feet from a photo

Sketch of feet from a photo

Children Again

I used to bring painting classes to senior citizen centers in my town. They also had lunch served there. One morning the coordinator of one site brought out a bolt of tablecloth plastic and asked for volunteers to cut it to fit the tables before lunch was to be served. Five elderly ladies got up and set up a worktable next to our painters. Armed with scissors, they were each giving instructions on how it should be done. It was a case of too many cooks and no one wanted to take directions. As the volume of the five volunteers escalated, it became harder and harder for the painters to keep from laughing.

After a while, one of the painting ladies turned to me and whispered, "That's the problem with getting old, dear. We act like kids again, only we're not as cute!"

My friend Dennis drawing from a live model

My friend Dennis drawing from a live model

Seniors Love Conversation

I think one of the biggest problems an artist faces is being quiet while painting. We get in that ZONE… the right side of the brain zone where you can’t talk and paint at the same time. However, if you are teaching, you HAVE to give instruction from time to time. So I learned to do it. It took some training. I found that if I started a conversation with some interesting tidbit, the seniors would chime in and do the rest. They do enjoy talking and sometimes only need a small catalyst. Talk about their day, their husband/wife, their dog or pet, their mom or family life, their kids, etc. It doesn’t take much and whole life stories will come out. I have been enriched by the background stories of the dear elderly people I have painted with.

A quick sketch

A quick sketch

Final Thoughts

Now that I’m a senior citizen myself, I believe in drawing even more than before. I draw every single day and I believe it keeps me young. What do you think? I’d love to read your thoughts and reactions in the comments below.

Comments

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 06, 2021:

Devika Primić,

It worked out well for me. I don't know if everyone would be willing to accept so long a time for the challenge. I should probably say people should try 30 days. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 04, 2021:

Denise you provide great ideas and our own illustrations allows for a better option. Your challenge for 100 days worked out well.

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Mary Norton,

I'd love to see more of your work. You should gather together your drawings and write about them and publish a hub. It would be interesting for everyone. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Nelvia,

I had the worst time with hands and feet a couple of years back. I decided that the only way to get better was to practice more so I challenged myself to draw one hand a day for 100 days. I figured after a hundred hands I couldn't help but be better at it. I drew skeletal hands, elderly hands, baby hands, women's hands, men's hands, and children's hands. I can't begin to tell you how rewarding it turned out to be for me. I got to where I could turn out a hand drawing in just half an hour. After that hundred days, I challenged myself to 100 days of feet and the rest is history, as they say. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Gilbert Arevalo

It is true that there is more satisfaction from using your own illustrations instead of public domain ones. I think the reader gets more from it too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Peg Cole,

I'm glad you liked that story about the tablecloth. I thought the elderly were so very funny without trying to be at all. It was a sweet time to be able to sketch and paint with them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Ann Carr,

Well, dear Ann, I too find the lockdown gets to me now and then. I started drawing from photos that I took long ago of grandchildren and some of my own children when they were little. It gave me great memories while I drew and sketched plus it put me in a better frame of mind. Plus the internet is teeming with photos of people, children, places, and things to draw. One of my favorite free photo sites to sketch from is Pixabay. Check them out if you have time. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Bill Holland,

Okay, you made me laugh out loud. I will reciprocate and live vicariously through your excellent writing as well and together we can smile over a job well done. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

John Hansen,

I'm glad to have inspired you to take up your sketching again. It is so good for the mind and relaxing for the body too. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Rosina S Khan,

I think we get the wrong idea that every drawing must be perfect or a masterpiece, but drawing and sketching are just good exercises even if they are ones that no one will ever see besides you. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Linda Crampton,

You draw too? You are multi-talented for sure. I am in awe of all you write about and have such expertise in. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Peggy Woods,

I'm glad you think so highly of my drawing but I'm still practicing to get better every day. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Liz Westwood,

I hope it does inspire. That was my intention in writing is to inspire people to draw more. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Pamela Oglesby,

I think we all draw at an early age and somehow lose interest or the confidence in doing it. It is so basic and yet so elusive. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Denise McGill (author) from Fresno CA on February 04, 2021:

Dora Weithers,

I agree the socialization is top on the list. The sweet folks I taught loved telling their life stories, sometimes the same story over and over, but I never got tired of hearing it. I learned so much from them. Thanks for commenting.

Blessings,

Denise

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on February 01, 2021:

I do draw once in a while to practice and I am glad to know that it does so much good for a Senior like me.

Nelvia from Atlanta on January 31, 2021:

Many excellent points and love the sketches, hands and feet are superb

Gilbert Arevalo from Hacienda Heights, California on January 31, 2021:

Wonderful black and white rendition of the aviator boy, Denise. I can see it took you a lot of patience, but well worth the effort. I've been meaning to draw more, but I get so concentrated writing I have difficulty fitting in the time. But I'd like to draw illustrations for my future articles instead of public domain photos. You get more credit for complete originality. Keep up the great work!

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on January 31, 2021:

Your sketches are incredible. Your tip about using the time we spend in waiting rooms to draw is a great idea. I love that you shared your talents with the elderly and enjoyed the story about cutting the tablecloth. Great article.

Ann Carr from SW England on January 31, 2021:

This is a fantastic hub, Denise. I didn't get here quickly enough to comment before it moved, but I'm glad I've found it in the 'feed' (doesn't always work!).

All your sketches are superb, especially the two hands - I find that drawing hands and feet is really difficult, for me. You have such flow in all of those sketches. Your reasons for drawing being good for the elderly (or anyone) are brilliant too. I say 'Put away the online games and try some real stuff!'.

I always enjoyed drawing and sketching in school and have done it on and off ever since, as well as some watercolours. I especially like charcoal, pastel and pen & ink. Pastel is soft and I like the 'soft' images that come with it. A friend of mine, who is much more artistic than I am, and I have been on a couple of holidays together and we both took our sketch pads. That was fun and we kept each other going. We've also done life drawing a few times but at the moment that's not possible of course.

I found just reading and looking at your illustrations therapeutic. Hand-eye coordination is probably the most important thing to practise. We used to do finger exercises to help the circulation and help to keep the hands supple.

You've motivated me to get out my sketch pad again and see what I can do - I need something different as lockdown is really getting at me at the moment. We're in serious lockdown here and nothing much is happening! Good job I can get out down by the sea, otherwise I'd go mad!

Hope you're keeping safe and well, Denise!

Ann

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 31, 2021:

All great reasons for drawing by hand. I simply don't have enough time to take on a new pursuit. I'm running out of time to finish all of the writing projects I have planned. :)

I will live vicariously through your talents, my friend, and be satisfied for it.

Blessings always

bill

John Hansen from Gondwana Land on January 31, 2021:

I think everyone should try to draw as much as possible, Denise. I just can't get the hang of digital illustration. I used to draw and doodle all the time as a kid and as an adult before I started writing as a hobby. Recently I have started devoting more time to drawing again. you gave great advice here and I love your sketches.

Rosina S Khan on January 30, 2021:

I enjoyed reading this article. I am glad to know you draw every single day and it helps to keep you young. I have done art during drawing classes at school as a child and found great pleasure in it but I have not continued it. Your article inspires me to draw again. Thank you for sharing, Denise.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on January 30, 2021:

I enjoy drawing by hand, but I must admit that I’ve been focusing on writing lately and haven’t done much drawing. Thank you for creating this interesting article, Denise. It’s very encouraging. I need to do some more drawing.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 30, 2021:

I have created art from the time I was a child. It is fun and relaxing. I took art appreciation in high school and later took some free classes at community centers. Your sketches and drawings are superb!

Liz Westwood from UK on January 30, 2021:

This is a fascinating article. It inspires me and other readers to take up drawing.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on January 30, 2021:

I think I would really enjoy a drawing class. I have done needle work, sewing and I created many stained glass panesl, but I have never really tried to draw. I found you article to be very interesting, Denise.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on January 30, 2021:

I'm impressed. I know that I can benefit in all the areas that you name here, with reason for leaving the house and enriching relationships top of the list. I would also like to learn the skill. You're offering a great service here.

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