Left-Handedness and How It Impacts One's Painting Process

**I would be interested in hearing from others who are left-handed, and how it affects them as a painter.**

It's amazing to me after just returning to painting with education via video's to realize the added difficulty I've run into following right-handed painters and applying it to my process. I don't think this occurred to me when I was at our local college learning initially, years ago, for we were pretty much left to our own devices.

People read right to left, and artists paint their flow/motion right to left, with right handed folks, it is natural. For me it has been a struggle that I just identified.

***For instance I tend to paint from left to right. Why? Think about it...Right handed brush wielders can visual see where they are going and it is natural and comfortable to move to the right, as well. A brush in the right hand is relaxed. A brush in the left-hand "pushes" instead of glides while painting/writing, right to left. Consequently, I intuitively want to "see" where I'm going, and have flow from the brush. Try it, you will see what I mean. We lefties adapt, many times without even knowing it.

The problem is sometimes the work doesn't "read" correctly. Sort of reversed in some way. Since this enters my thoughts every time I'm painting now, especially while following video teaching, thought I would put it out there for discussion.




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Comment by Carolyn Brunsdon on November 24, 2013 at 12:14

Hello Frank. Sounds interesting for a later time. I'm painting with Johannas V. as well and doing some of my own so not enough time (or $ lol!) to be involved in another paint along just now. That $67 per month is quite a commitment! I haven't found his Still Life or the Landscape DVD's of much interest as I've looked into them in the past. Thanks for thinking of me and offering the suggestions though! Hope you are getting everything and more out of his teaching and will enjoy Richard's as much on the landscape side.

Comment by Frank Brooks on November 22, 2013 at 5:09


FYI, Dan does have a landscape DVD series that is pretty good.  His Art Masters course includes landscapes, figures, portraits, and still life.  A different project every week via the internet and 3 out of 4 weeks a month we have a webinar where he pulls up peoples work and talks about it.  All the past projects are still available, you won't get every project done (nor will you want to).  The webinars are on Thursday night 7pm mountain time.

Comment by Carolyn Brunsdon on November 22, 2013 at 3:52

Hello Frank, I hope you read my correction to the original post. Had a horrible cold and wrote everything reversed as in people reading right to left etc. Crazy woman that day! lol. I appreciate your commenting on this, especially since you are right handed. Thank you for recommending Dan E. actually I am aware of him was on his mailing list for some time although never studied with him. Part of that reason is I wanted to move away from still life emphasis as I entered my art world again, (that is all I've done in the past) and grow into landscape, then plein air. Funny, I never noticed Dan is a lefty! As I said, it wasn't an issue with still-life work...never thought of it at all. I started noticing it when I had to create movement left to right for the viewer in a natural way. It goes against the flow with the brush being  pushed instead of the hand leading, and tiring as well for the arm/hand is under tension that way. Anyway, I'm working out my process now that I'm aware. Again thanks for sharing!

Comment by Frank Brooks on November 21, 2013 at 12:40

Hi Carolyn,

I am not left handed but have studied with Dan Edmondson (check youtube or I can send a link to his work).  Maybe because of him or maybe from something else, but I do paint from left to right just as I read.  Dan often discusses where to position the center of interest and how to keep the viewer's eye in the painting with light blocks and escapes.  I do actually hold my canvas in my lap and sometimes turn it upside down to get a brush stroke I want so....

Comment by Britt Greenland on October 22, 2013 at 12:36

Thanks for this post!  I don't think my left-handedness is any kind of a drawback for painting, but I did notice something really strange after reading this.  I was playing around with the new version of Windows Office.  There is a painting tool on there.  I've always "moused" with my right hand because it didn't seem to matter and it was easier than moving the mouse to the other side.  Now that I almost exclusively use a desktop computer with a touchpad style mouse in the middle below the keys, I still carried over using my right hand.

As I tried "painting" with the mouse, I noticed it was difficult with my right hand and tried to use my left.  To my surprise it was even harder with my left hand.  This is so strange because if I were to finger paint (the same motion), I would have much greater control and dexterity with my left hand!  Isn't that crazy?  It's as though my brain has one side for "technology" and one for "writing/painting/art".  Probably not very helpful, but interesting.

Comment by Carolyn Brunsdon on October 10, 2013 at 4:51

Eddie I just lost my response to your very helpful post...I took a look at your painting enlarged, came back and pftt! gone! Many of the methods you use I incorporate as well. Turning the painting upside down is one I will put in my toolbox. I've enjoyed viewing your painting, and appreciate that you've shared it. Very subtle and restful to the eye. I really like the way you used the fog or low cloud to push that mountain back, nice depth of planes. Hope you don't mind, but I imported it into photoshop so I could see your brush strokes close up...Your sky is softened and blended so I couldn't distinguish brushwork very well. You are a realist painter rather than impressionist I would say. What I did notice, is that all of your mountains/hills descend from right to left, lol it's a lefty thing.  Again, thanks for the post.

Happy painting back to you.

Comment by Carolyn Brunsdon on October 10, 2013 at 4:23

Ann, thank you for your comments and questions. Eddie is a great example of going with the flow as to what is natural. What is a "backward slope" to a righty, (the majority) is a natural application for a lefty.  I think it has to be a part of our painting signature. What I can add is that when it is very important to get an awkward direction of movement, I've aided my brush with a bridge or mal stick. Eddie's suggestion for moving the hand up the brush instead of gripping it lower, helps me see as well. When in a really tight spot, I've also held the brush parallel to the canvas and gripping it in an over hand fashion. Bottom line: if a lefty is not at all ambidextrous, there are some things that are made worse by trying to "overcome" it.

In researching this a bit more, I found that in leftie portraits, typically they face or are turned towards the right.

When I was in classes, some where in the back of my mind, I realized my working setup disrupted the order of things, didn't worry about it, but realized it. Funny...

As an aside, I have wondered from time to time about my "messiness" with art instruments, turns out it is just me doing my natural lefty thing!

Comment by Carolyn Brunsdon on October 10, 2013 at 3:59

I just read my original post and have some corrections to make. A head cold was in the making when I wrote:

"***For instance I tend to paint from left to right."  I paint right to left, automatic, without thinking as it is the flow for a lefty.

 "A brush in the right hand is relaxed. A brush in the left-hand "pushes" instead of glides while painting/writing, right to left"  Should read "left to right".

Comment by Ann Turner on October 9, 2013 at 17:28

I'll share your post with my friend. I think lefties need to stick together.

Comment by Eddie Morris on October 9, 2013 at 16:44

Here is an example of my work.  It is a little dark, still trying to figure out my new camera! 


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