If you think back to college days or any other structured art classes you've attended, you'll probably have memories of various frustrating warm up exercises at the start of each session.
These may have included drawing without looking at the paper, 5 second life studies, drawing without lifting your pencil to give a continuous line, capturing an image in 10 lines or less ...... or my own bête noir, drawing with the non-dominant hand. This activity always saw me reverting to an infant state, hardly able to hold the crayon with my left hand, let alone produce a finished image.
But these activities are not just a sadistic exercise by the tutor - they can be incredibly liberating and force you to re-evaluate how you work and break ingrained habits. They all strengthen hand to eye co-ordination and make you draw what you see rather than falling back on what you already know.
Regular contributor Judith Pollock has recently had no choice but to embrace a radical new approach to her art. Here's her story ........
This summer I've been mostly drawing left handed....
After injuring my right arm & hand back in May my life changed somewhat. I struggled to cope with many tasks and felt pretty cheesed off and sorry for myself. Trying to use my non dominant left hand was very frustrating but I persevered and developed a slow childlike writing style and learnt to use a computer mouse with my left hand.
While on holiday in Italy I did a little drawing with my left hand and when I got home I signed up for summer art classes with Karen Winship and have been having a brilliant time. Not being able to draw 'normally' has being incredibly freeing and has allowed me to engage with each week's project not worried about the outcome in a way that I've never done in the past. Others in the class have also tried using their non dominant hand and really enjoyed it. My right hand is improving slowly but I'll be continuing my artistic practice with both hands from now on!
The great tomato above was created by Judith in week two of her summer classes, demonstrating the progress that can be made in a short time by persevering. Use of the non-dominant hand is a great tool to add to your skills and a reliable way of breaking through artistic block and the tyranny of the white page.
There's plenty of theory and research on technique and left brain / right brain activity to be found on line - but frankly the best approach is to pick up a pencil with your "wrong" hand and see what develops.