Art Products that Minimize Hand Stress

Art Products that Minimize Hand Stress

Sometime ago, I answered a reader question asking for ways to minimize hand pain. That article listed some of my favorite drawing tips. Today, I’d like to share some art products that minimize hand stress.

As I mentioned in that previous post, the best way to manage hand pain or discomfort is to avoid it. Frequent breaks are the best prevention. If you can comfortably draw for 30 minutes, then set a timer for 25 minutes. When it goes off, take a break. I like AS Timer and use it often. It’s a free app you can download and install easily. The only drawback is that it’s Mac-based.

There are also free PC-based timing apps, as well as many online apps.

If you like old-fashioned solutions, an egg timer works great!

Now let’s get to those art products!

Art Products that Minimize Hand Stress

Sanded Pastel Paper

I know what you’re thinking: Sanded pastel paper will make drawing more difficult.

That’s what I used to think, too, but it isn’t true. Believe it or not, the drawings I’ve completed on sanded pastel paper have been finished more quickly and with less stress than similar drawings on regular drawing paper.

I’ve also observed (in hindsight,) that I don’t notice my hand aching as much. The fact is that my brain and eyes tire faster than my hands when I draw on sanded pastel paper.

One reason sanded pastel paper is so easy on the hands is that it produces pigment dust. You can blend the dust into the paper with a brush or paper blending stump.

This blending method also extends the use of the pencils, and reduces the amount of pressure required to fill the tooth. That reduces the number of pencil strokes needed to finish a drawing and that reduces overall stress to hands and fingers.


PanPastels are a form of pastel packaged in small, lidded containers. Apply them with any of the sponge application tools shown below, or with ordinary make-up sponges.

They’re perfect for creating plain or blurred backgrounds quickly, and many artists also use them for under painting.

Brush & Pencil Powder Blender

Brush & Pencil makes an excellent blending product called Powder Blender. Powder Blender blends colored pencil more quickly and completely than anything else I’ve ever seen. You can use it alone, or in combination with Brush & Pencil’s texture fixative.

Purchase products individually or as part of a kit from Brush & Pencil. Some of the individual products are also available through Dick Blick.

Art Products that Minimize Hand Stress

These are three of products I’ve either used personally, or other artists use to minimize hand stress. They aren’t the only three available. I’ve also used watercolor, watercolor pencils, and India ink to speed up the drawing process. If you don’t mind mixed-media art, these are great ways to reduce hand and wrist pain.

Hand stress or discomfort has many causes. If your hand or wrist pain is persistent, your best first step is consulting your doctor. Find out if there’s a medical cause, then treat that underlying problem.

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  1. Patricia Wilson

    Very helpful as think allot of us out here have hand issues. I’m 73 so every day gets harder to do what I love doing. Thanks for posting this as every little bit helps so that we can continue doing what we love.

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