The Proper Way To Hold A Pencil

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The way you hold your pencil (or any drawing tool) will affect the outcome of your work. Holding it as you would if you were writing (see photo at top) is good for detailed or controlled work, as you are primarily moving only your fingers and wrist.

On the other hand, when sketching and drawing outdoors, you'll want more freedom. Try to move not only your wrist, but the whole arm, giving the mobility and the sweep needed for working on large sheets of paper. The bottom photo shows how to hold your pencil to get your whole arm in motion.

Holding your pencil in this manner is ideal for doing detailed drawings and small works.

Hold your pencil like this when sketching or drawing outdoors. This position gives you more freedom, enabling you to move your whole arm.

Pencil Drawing Outdoors

Stand of Pines

18"x 22" Charcoal pencils on Whatman paper. Collection of John and Judy Jester.

I started this drawing by holding the charcoal pencils in the manner for doing quick sketching. About two-thirds from finishing, I changed my position —holding the pencil for tightly detailed work.

Charcoal Sketch

Catskill Creek, 8"x7", graphite pencil.

This drawing was executed holding the pencil for quick sketching. What caught my eye was the pattern of darks and lights in the woods and on the rocks with the reflections in the water. It did not take me long to realize that I had a bonanza of material for future drawings.

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