My stab at ambidextrous art

Jacob Whitacker
Student Jacob Whitacker drew inspiration from artist Rajacenna van Dam and drew with both hands simultaneously.

For this week’s blog, I’ve decided to explore the world of ambidextrous artists, and try to create something of my own. Ambidextrous refers to the ability of using both your right and left hands equally. 

There are several artists who have this ability, for example, one that stood out to me the most was Rajacenna van Dam, a Dutch artist with the ability to make multiple realistic drawings all simultaneously using both of her hands and feet. 

When researching artists with this ability, I came across a video of her creating six different portraits, all upside down, drawing two with each of her hands and one with each foot, which completely blew me away. 

I see this as pretty much the pinnacle of talent when it comes to ambidextrous artists. 

And before you ask, no I will not be attempting to draw with my feet. 

Instead, for this challenge, I used a blue pen in my right hand, and a green pen in my left hand and wanted to sketch a portrait from memory, drawing each half of the face with a different hand. 

One of the first things I noticed was it was much harder to get my left hand to produce dark, bold lines, nonetheless straight lines. My sketching style is naturally very scribbly and messy, so I tried to embrace that, which I think worked to my advantage. 

I like to be messy when I draw because it helps me not think and just let my hand (in this case, hands) flow. 

That mindset helped in this situation because even though my left hand is far less accurate and coordinated compared to my right, drawing with the intention of being messy eliminates the need for accuracy and coordination, which makes the drawing able to work. 

Pretty much like any other drawing, the more lines I got on the paper the less intimidating it felt, and I was able to just let it flow. Drawing the right and left side of the face simultaneously was an interesting experience also. It was kind of useful in a way in getting the proportions to match. Since my right hand naturally wanted to press down on the paper harder than my left, there were a few times where I’d be drawing something on both sides simultaneously but paying more attention to the left side, and accidentally put more lines than I intended on the right and end up having to sort of correct it. In the long run it wasn’t really a problem, It just sort of felt like my right hand was constantly trying to be one step ahead of my left. 

Overall, I pretty much discovered a new hidden talent. In all seriousness, this challenge felt easier to me than I expected. If I were to do pretty much anything else with my non-dominant side I feel I would struggle, but with drawing, I was able to adapt to the weaknesses of my left hand and use the messiness to my advantage. I think going into it without a reference photo helped as well, since it gave me the freedom to just draw without having to make it look a certain way. This was important in this challenge because it enabled me to just go with the flow and improvise as I needed to, since I don’t have as much control over my non-dominant side. 

I also think it was helpful that I had made both sides pretty much symmetrical. I think this helped my left hand stay on track, since my right hand was essentially doing the exact same. I think an interesting and more difficult challenge could be to make two separate drawings simultaneously, one with my right and one with my left, and seeing how they both turn out. I also wish I took a time-lapse video or something along with a series of pictures to show the process. That would have looked way cooler. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Previous post Silhouette art on campus inspired by selfies
Next post Winter sports celebrated at banquet