Early Lefties

For posterity, here are some of the very first location sketches drawn with my left hand.


I’d already done a lot of lefty drawing at home, (including some illustrations for my childhood stories on this blog) but had not ventured outside to draw from life until last September, when both Julia and I went drawing for a couple of consecutive weekends at the SF State campus, just a couple of blocks from our apartment. I became fascinated with the Student Center building, which has a sort of Logan’s Run/Epcot feeling to it.


Then as now, I laboriously did the line drawing on-site and added the washes at home later, with a photo as a memory guide. Comparing these sketches here with some more recent ones, I can clearly see the progression in my left-handed drawing over the last six months, which is gratifying, but I still have a long way to go.


I really want to loosen up my new drawing arm. I’m either very painstaking, or hilariously sloppy in the way I place the line. I’m getting better, but wrestle with line-control without being too stiff, but I trust that will come as my left hand gets more deft over time.


This next sketch is of Julia’s Mini-Cooper, drawn last November. We had to drop by her office on an errand one weekend, and both did a spot of drawing afterward. The parking lot is well landscaped and quite pretty, so Julia painted the trees, but I drew her car instead.


The next pair of sketches were drawn during two visits to Golden Gate Park in January this year. The first trip, myself and Matt Jones had gone to the De Young Museum to see the fantastic David Hockney exhibition, near the end of its San Francisco run. There were Disneyland level crowds, but the show was pretty spectacular and actually worth the effort to see. Best of all, Matt and I were able to fit in a little sketching afterward.


The very next weekend, I went with Julia back to the exact same spot, but facing the other direction, specifically to sketch the De Young Museum itself, on another beautifully sunny day.


I am enjoying drawing lately, and once the enjoyment happens you’re away; everything else flows on from that. I’ll have some more recent location sketches to post soon, as soon as I get them scanned.

30 thoughts on “Early Lefties”

    • Rob, they all look fairly crappy without the tones. The lines are super faint and scribbly. So without the wash they don’t really work, but they are getting better though.

  1. Great progress! It’s a blessing in a sense because you can see improvement in leaps & bounds whereas with the facile dexterity of our ‘skilled’ hand any advancement is so incrementally slow, over years, that it always feels so painful. Keep pushin’

    • Thanks Matt. I take your point. Although having the facile, skilled hand, and the slow progress that goes with it, is a problem I’d dearly like to have again.

    • Yes, of course- your predicament isn’t desirable. I’m trying to get at the ‘positive’ side of it; having your skill ‘reset’, almost starting over from childhood is what many trained, accomplished artists have sought (not the least being Picasso). However, in your case you retain all your training mentally but your body gets in the way. It makes for remarkable drawings-there’s a struggle but it doesn’t look like a fight, more that you’re elegantly working to control your left hand. There’s a freeness and fluidity that is quite refreshing. Drawings are somehow more honest when you’re able to suppress or circumnavigate your training. Curious how the creative mind functions-

    • it is a struggle, but i am just content to leave it out there for all to see. And yes, the struggle is controlling the left hand, which often goes its own way without listening to me at all. I feel like a director who has been given the B-Team!

      In general, on both sides, my body is uncontrollable, whether due to spasms and spasticity on the right, or simple clumsiness and lack of dexterity on the left. But an acceptance of accidents makes it all bearable, and even fun.

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