Monday, January 03, 2011

POLL: Are you a left handed artist?

Hands from the Michaelangelo fresco on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

I'm starting 2011 with a question which has intrigued me for a long time.  It has a variety of forms:
  • Are artists typically left-handed - or is this a myth?
  • Are artists more likely to be left-handed than the general population?
  • Why are more artists left-handed?
  • What's the connection between being left-handed and the right side of the brain?
  • Do you have to be left handed to be a great artist?
As you can see - lots of questions!

I'm aiming this month to investigate this topic and produce a post by the end of the month which aims to answer some of these questions.

In the meantime, I'd like to know whether or not YOU are left-handed.  So the question for the Making A Mark Poll for January 2011 is..........

Are you a left-handed artist?
  • Yes, I'm a left-handed artist
  • No, I'm an ambidextrous artist
  • No, I'm a right-handed artist
  • No, I'm not an artist
You can find the poll in the right hand column - just above the faces of the followers of this blo.  The poll close early on Monday 31st January and the result will be posted later that day - along with the answers to as many of the questions about left-handed artists as I can find.

Note:  The image is of the hands of God and Adam from the fresco about The Creation of Adam created by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.  Michelangelo was reputed to be ambidextrous.  Adam is painted as left-handed.


  1. I'll be interested to see the results of your poll, I've always wondered about that. A few years ago I read a magazine article about an artist named Nancy Glazier who paints very realistic wildlife scenes with her right hand and uses her left hand to paint bold, wildly colorful, stylized and abstract work. I thought that was so interesting. But it never worked like that for me, I can barely write my name with my left hand. :)

  2. im interested in this poll right handed, though if you watch movies and television, pay close attention to how many of the actors use their left hand...its amazing. :)

  3. Very interesting poll...I'm right-handed but over the years have started to use my left for various things, such as using my mouse at work. Maybe I'll start painting left-handed someday, but haven't had the courage/patience to attempt that yet!

  4. Research has shown that there is a higher percentage of left handed people in the visual arts when compared to the general population.
    Amongst other reasons it has been suggested that some (NOT all)have better spatial skills than right handers. The 'right brain' hypothesis is not an explanation as in fact when we do any task we are using our whole brain. So the real reason left handers do well in the arts - and often in sport - is as yet unknown.

  5. Thanks for the comments - keep them coming

    Also if you have any interesting links on this question I'd be delighted to hear about them

  6. And I forgot to add - left handers don't always have the same brain hemisphere organisation as right handers, for example sometimes spatial skills are located in the left hemisphere, not the right and also some left handers have same side hemispherical domination - i.e their left hand is controlled by the left side of the body, and their right hand by the right side - so none of this is as simple as it may seem. As for me - I'm very left handed but I do also draw (and have a much easier time with perspective) with my right hand as well as my left.

  7. This is a fun question. :) I'm right-handed but also do a lot of things left-handed. Including paint. I've actually been trying to improve this with my joint problems of the last few years, as I can do certain painting tasks just as well left-handed but not all.

    Personally it sounds like a cool myth to me. I can't think of any artists I know who are left-handed. I'm with curiouscrow in that good artists aren't one side brained or the other because art involves not just creativity and lateral thinking but also planning, spacial awareness and a lot of analysis. (just as good science requires a lot of creative lateral thought!)

  8. Katherine - It's getting to the point that I am surprised when I find a successful artist who is right handed. Of course this doesn't fill me with joy because I am right handed :(

    Even HWEM writes with his right hand and plays golf with his left. Dermott eats with both!

  9. I guess there must be some curiosity among artist on this topic. Because it just does not want to die.
    The real curiosity is why does the right brain - left brain, artists are lefties myth,.. endure?

  10. @Jim Serrett

    Maybe take a look at the poll for the answer?

  11. I know little of right-left handed implications. But I know there is a relation between giftedness and being ambidextrous. I wonder if this helps you in researching the topic.

  12. i am now, having had a stroke in 2007...
    so my left hand has about 40 years catch-up to work as well as my right hand did!

  13. I am RH, but my little daughter, who is self-identified as, and becoming, a good artist is left handed.

  14. I think the case of the left- brain/ right- brain conundrum artist are far behind psychiatrist and neurologists in its understanding. We seem to cling to the idea that creating works of art is activity that takes place purely on the "creative/right brain" side of the equation.
    While most experts agree that it takes both sides to move ideas/thoughts into organization. That the right hemisphere of the brain actually relies on the knowledge stored in the left hemisphere of the brain to function.

    “Neurologists consider that the human brain has distinct functionality on its left and right side. The left brain is said to be accountable for math, analysis and logic. The right brain is presumably responsible for art, language and creativity. But in truth, we use both parts of the brain for utmost intellectual functions.”

    The poll is interesting but you would have to consider if this topic is more interesting to “lefties” than “righties”, and how many people actually took part, ie (control group).
    You could have dozens of righties not vote on the poll. I think you could ask how many Tennis players are left handed on a tennis site and get the same skewed results.

    Anyway thanks for letting me voice my opinion.
    Really enjoy your site.

    "There are no facts, only interpretations."
    -- Friedrich Nietzsche

  15. Let me be clear ~I'm asking the question as I know an awful lot of left-handed artists.

    I also have experience of very techie groups and it never struck me there was anything odd about which hand they used.

  16. When I think about it, I use my right hand. However, after being in "the zone" I have found myself with brushes in both hands, painting with both. This hasn't happened with drawing yet.

    I do find in certain athletic activities that I am much better with my left - soccer and bowling come to mind.

    My artistic son is left-handed. But, my left-handed husband cringes at drawing a stick figure. :D

  17. Poll hasn't loaded for me in the sidebar. I'm using firefox.

  18. Hi Anira - it's loading fine for me - also using Firefix

    It's in the right hand columns inbetween the following modules:
    "5 Recent Top Posts"
    "Bloggers who follow this blog"


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