Painting with the body

It may surprise you to hear that we don't draw or paint with the fingers!

Yes, the fingers hold the tool (brush, pencil, charcoal), but the drawing action starts in the feet - and connects through the torso and shoulder joint to the arm.


This movement from Tai Chi is the same as doing the basic brush stroke with the right hand.

Points to notice:

  1. The torso turns to support the arm
  2. The weight shifting from left to right leg
  3. The posture expands during the movement

What the pictures don't show is that the practitioner is thinking upwards during the movement. Also, the arm feels as if it is "floating". This is due to the involvement of the whole body.

You will get much more control of your movements if you involve more muscles. Your brain will get a much clearer picture of the movement.

We use three senses to create a mark on a page:

  1. Kineasthetic perception - your sense of MOVEMENT
  2. Proprioceptive perception - your sense of POSITION
  3. Vision

The three most effective systems of improving your coordination are:

  1. Tai Chi - an ancient Chinese system of movement & breathing.
  2. Alexander Technique - an Australian system which radically improves your primary control.
  3. Feldenkrais Technique - an Israeli system which educates you in the finer motor movements.


This sequence shows the left hand extending with full support of the body.
Notice the connection between the rear right heel and the left hand. No body part moves in isolation. The movement is combined with an exhalation.


This kind of balance shows excellent coordination. The practice of Tai Chi is designed to cultivate your body map.


Notice the lightness in the upper hand. This is very relevant to the practice of art, as when painting we spent a lot of time with our arms elevated.

(Thanks to Tai Chi exponent Ruolan Lan for demonstrating these moves.)

This is an excerpt from the section on Technique in my Art Publications.