The right hand connects to the left side of your brain. The left hand connects to the right side of your brain. The counter intuitive notion that challenged me to write and draw with my left hand.
During my time at UCSB, I was bored during most classes. I sat in chairs while teachers spewed information at me. In that youth, I wanted to be moving, creating, and experiencing actively. I needed more. So to create my own challenges, I began taking notes with my non-dominant hand (my left hand). I would tell friends that I was “expanding my mind.”
According to science as I understand it, I actually was. Using my left hand required the other side of my brain to control a function it wasn’t familiar with and unrefined at. My left hand itself was poor in its motor skills and precision. It exercised this part of my brain. Writing with my left hand gave me something to concentrate on.
I can’t say when I first began drawing with my left hand. I know recently at a figure drawing session, I drew with my left hand more out of a sense of a pride than anything. Everybody around drew stunning, accurate depictions of the model. I used my left hand just in case I needed a reason as to why my drawings were so sloppy. Other times in private, I drew and wrote with my left hand when needing to explore. My left hand connects to a different part of my brain. Therefore, it expresses a piece that probably my right hand couldn’t. My left hand and my right hand are two different artists.
When I yearn for novel thoughts and images, I draw or write with my left hand. This 3-part illustration was not planned. The first image where Christopher jives to work was created months ago. My faded memory is telling me that I began a left handed doodle which turned into an illustration which then I wrote the sentence to. At that time, I planned to expand on the story, so I left a few empty pages before my next entry.
Fear kept me from continuing to work on the left-hand story for many months. I thought maybe it was just by luck that I created something with my left hand. I didn’t trust my left hand to be able to complete another illustration. Doubts can’t really be listened to and failure only comes from lack of trying.
I did try; it was in the middle of the night when I completed the second part. I colored it the next night. Then the third part came along, and I colored it the following day. Drawing and coloring a piece completely with my left hand liberated me from details and refinement.
My left hand is not precise; it makes bold strokes. I don’t have enough control over the hand to have a light touch which means I rely entirely on the colors to bring out the shadows and the light. I couldn’t worry about the details because my left hand can’t refine; I worried about the big picture. My left hand can’t fix mistakes as easily so it found I can erase pastels, but it looks a bit too smudgy. My left fingers were more clumsy when smudging pastels so I had to wash my fingers more often than usual. I forgave the mistakes my left hand made much more readily and never thought the drawing to be ruined. My left hand created artworks, I rejoice in.
I hope artists out there discover the absolute joy of drawing from their non-dominant hand. If not, do it to expand your mind. 🙂