The Relationship Between the Tool and the Hand

©Hollie Woodward 2017

I am currently listening to another episode of Dan Berry’s podcast “Make it Then Tell Everybody” , this time with Matthew the Horse, and they have talked about something that has been bothering me also and have helped me reflect on why this is.

During the podcast, Dan and Matthew talk about the relationship between the tool and the hand. Berry talks about having a number of pens that are the same type, but each having a slightly different feature that makes it work on some surfaces and not others, varying between each other. Each nib bites on the surface differently, which achieves different outcomes. This can vary massively between brand as well. The bite changes the feeling which can change the manner of which you make marks. Each material has its own micro detail that forms part of the outcome of the image and the overall comfort of the hand. Focusing and honing in on the different aspects of the tool give a better idea of the flavour of its features.

As soon as I heard this, I identified with it immediately. I have collected so many art materials over the past year or so, since becoming more serious about illustration, and many of them are just in a drawer and used very irregularly. I would try it and not explore its features enough. I would use one type of paper or try to use it in the same way as a different tool and not be comfortable or happy with the outcome, then discard it entirely as something I cannot work with.

A huge part of this is also confidence. As mentioned in my previous post, my mark making is not confident. It is faint lines and a lot of erasing and then going in with ink when I feel I’m ready. I need to start owning these lines, owning the mistakes they may bring and accepting that mistakes will be made.

During the course of my Masters degree, I plan to be more engaged in a range of different media, expanding on my current knowledge through practice, reflecting on it and then honing in on what interests me, what I enjoy and what I feel would be most relevant to my final outcome. Starting with the random array of materials I have on my desk, I will do this whilst keeping a visual diary of how Fibromyalgia  affects me on a daily basis.



Berry, D., (2016) Matthew the Horse [Online] 26th January 2016. Available at: (Accessed 16th October 2017)


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