There is a golf term called “the yips,” but I think it applies to anything that requires steady hands. Basically, when it’s most important to have muscle control, the muscles, or the brain, don’t cooperate and you twitch. There have been studies of the neurology behind it, and I won’t go into it, but suffice it to say I’ve suffered from my own version of the yips, especially with a permanent marker in my hand. I’ll have a beautiful curve flowing across the page and–urp–a tiny jerk spoils the line.
Through a chance encounter with someone who teaches it, I learned about Zentangles. Once again I won’t go into detail because you can follow the link if you’re interested. When I looked into it, I loved the images and the idea of a meditative sort of doodling. I’m a big doodler anyway, so I decided to try it. There are certain standards and parameters, and I doubt if I’m following them strictly, but it doesn’t matter. Once I have some black lines down I can’t resist coloring them, and that’s what is the most fun for me. Since the drawings are small (3.5 inches square) and I do them strictly for exercise, there’s no pressure and fewer hiccups, and if they do occur they’re incorporated into the drawing.
The other thing that I’ve found interesting about both Zentangles and my whole mail art obsession is the power of having a boundary. A big canvas is really hard to get started on, but a 4×6 postcard is a nice little space to fill, and if you don’t like it you don’t have to gesso over it.
I have been drawing and coloring Zentangles to stay loose. I am far from accomplished, but these are a good start on my new meditative art practice.