Saturday, January 29, 2011

Are you a left handed artist? (Poll Results)

The first Making A Mark Poll of 2011 was very straightforward and it was maybe this reason which attracted a high number of votes.  262 people in total voted in the poll and the pattern of voting was apparent from early on.
  • 31% of those responding identified themselves as left-handed artists
  • 9% identified themselves as ambidextrous artists
  • 58% were right-handed artists
Various studies have been done about what percentage of the population is left-handed and the conclusions are that it between 8–15% of world population are left-handed.

I've also read some who think that this figure can rise to as high as 30% if a very loose definition of left-handedness is used.  I provided no definition - I just asked whether people considered themselves a left-handed artist - and 31% did while 40% could use their left hand for art.

The definition of being left-handed

Here's one suggestion for a definition of being left-handed
being left-handed means having a preference for using your left hand for a variety of tasks, including reaching, throwing, pointing, catching. It also implies a preference for using your left foot for tasks such as kicking, as well as the preferred foot with which to begin walking, running and bicycling. However, there are no hard and fast rules for determining which hand or foot the Lefthander prefers to use for a particular task. Most will prefer to use the left hand or foot for delicate work.

One may also have a dominant left eye, preferring to use the left eye for telescopes, camera sights, and microscopes.

I'd venture to suggest that - unless the very high level of respondents was some sort of "lobbying" by left handed artists - it seems very likely that there is a very distinct connection between being left-handed and being artistic.  Thus being left-handed may be seen to be helpful but not necessary

From my own observations,  over the last 20 years I've certainly noticed a high incidence of lefthandedness amongst artists, ever since I first heard the notion that there was a connection.

I'd also note that such lefthandedness is quite often associated with some level of malfunction within the language area of the brain.  I've known lefthanded artists who have overcome a bad stutter, lefthanded artists with very poor spelling and a significant number for whom writing represents a bit of a trial.  However this does not affect all lefthanded artists.

Your comments

One of the interesting aspects of the poll were the comments it generated on the original post POLL: Are you a left handed artist?  It seems as if this is a question which a number of you have pondered on in the past.

Let's not forget the artist who also pointed out that being left-handed doesn't necessarily make you artistic!
I entered the poll that I am right-handed, though I do use my left hand for quite a lot of things.. What I thought I would mention is that my husband is left handed, and his art ability is similar to that of a seven year old (at most!)
A new resource about left-handed artists

Head of a Man Facing to the Left by Leonardo da Vinci
Pen and brown ink over charcoal, 120 x 50 mm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
You may be interested in a new makingamark resource site that I've set up - Are Left Handed People more likely to be Artists?  I've included a poll there as well but in a slightly different format.

Who are the famous left-handed artists?

This new resource also sets out to reappraise some of the claims for famous left-handed artists.

It appears that the evidence for the inclusion of some famous artists in various lists of left-handed artists is that they appear in other lists of left-handed artists!

Personally - I prefer to see the primary evidence or hostorical sources!

One of the ways of identifying a left-handed artist is to review which way they prefer to hatch.

Left handed artists - such as Leonardo da Vinci - tend to hatch from left to right, while right hand artists tend to hatch hatch right to left (leaving aside hatching which is intentionally following contours)

Next time you meet up with your art group or artist friends why not do a quick poll and see how many are left-handed.   Or maybe just ask them to show you how they hatch and watch what sort of mark they make and which hand they use.

Leave your comments on this post or on the new site.



  1. Love that you mentioned the eye thing too! I've always looked through a camera and telescope with my right eye. It was a great boon when I took up archery though (where you have to look down the arrow with your right eye).

  2. I am right handed but left eyed. Shooting was never my strong suit as it seems very awkward. I don't think of myself as ambidexterous but I did go through a bout of tendinitis awile back and found myself drawing with my left hand. It is awful at first, but you do improve with practice.

  3. Think you have to combine these kind of results with results of people who are left handed and are writers, I mean I have the idea that people who are left handed are not much readers, or could that be only me?!

  4. That's an interesting notion Rene. I do know that the language thing can have wonky connections for right brain/left handed people. I believe dyslexia is more common amongst artists


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