Concordia University



Workshops & seminars

Get a Grip: How We Hold Pencils, Pens, and Drawing Implements with Margaret MacNamidhe


Date & time

Thursday, March 26, 2020
1 p.m. – 3 p.m.


This event is free




J.W. McConnell Building
1400 De Maisonneuve Blvd. W.

Wheelchair accessible



Writers, artists, critics and historians are used to describing different kinds of drawn marks and lines, yet we tend not to think very exactly about in how the hand making the mark was holding the pencil or other implement. The handwriting grip tends to be thought of as the default mode. The handwriting grip is the one that many of us adopted habitually when we learned to form letters under western models of education. But the handwriting grip pivots on the wrist. The movements can’t be very long or large. They’re keyed to us sitting down and using either our right-arm or left arm—resting the side of wrist on a horizontal or slightly tilted surface.

The result is this: even when we see a big drawing, we don’t usually think of the action that made it as large in scope, done while standing up. In fact, using a different way to positioning our fingers and thumbs while standing up (the overhand grip) we can draw from the shoulder, not from the wrist.

This workshop investigates the different possibilities of drawing or writing using wide and long sweeps in contradistinction to the drawing (or hand-writing) executed in notebooks and sketchbooks.  We’ll explore the advantages and possibilities of at least 2 kinds of grips, and more besides (for example, when we allow our hand to close around the pencil, and drag it heavily or unwaveringly). It will start with a short presentation to get everyone thinking about the following questions: was a drawing drawn while sitting down? Or was it made by standing in front of a vertical surface, which involves an entirely different grip?

Please bring with you wood graphite pencils (2B to 5B) or watercolor pencils, your own markers (especially if they have thick nibs), and a notebook ranging from size A5 to A3.

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