Deborah Howland-Murray Self-Images
PORTRAITS OF 2-LEGGEDS and 4-LEGGEDS
18 Left To Right, Right To Left
Materials you will need: Paper, any combination of markers, crayons, craypas, pastels, colored pencils.
Are you right handed or left handed? Whichever you are, try drawing with your non-dominant hand. You can draw whatever you like, but remember – it can be hard! – to use the hand with which you normally would not write or draw.
You might be surprised at the outcome. This exercise forces you to exchange control for careful observation of shapes and light and dark, rather than relying upon your brain’s preconceived notion of what a chair is, or a face, or a lamp, or whatever object you have chosen. This can actually allow for more accuracy. A young child draws the same round head, two eyes and curved line smile, no matter who the subject is. To a degree, this lack of differentiation will be embedded within the brain forever. But shake things up, and the brain has to work harder and see things anew.
Top: Non-dominant left-handed charcoal sketch.
Bottom: Dominant right-handed charcoal sketch.
When I tried this, I realized how much adjustment the exercise required. I set up with materials to my right as usual, instead of within reach of my left hand. I couldn’t figure out where to keep my hand and how to hold my drawing materials. But gradually, I became more comfortable with it. The exercise became a great metaphor for the kind of ability to adjust that we all have had to muster these past months. I let go of expectations that it would equal my usual work and summoned resiliency. Try it and see if you feel the same way!