Q: If, God forbid, you should lose the use of your drawing hand, do you think you could draw as well with your other hand i.e. be able to keep up to the standards expected by your current customers?¬¨‚Ä† I guess this is another way of asking “How much of your talent would you say is in your hand as opposed to in your brain?
A: That is an excellent question, and one I do not think any artist has not thought about at one time or another.. I’m sure there must be scientific studies on the adaptability of man after the loss of use of their dominant hand, but I am not familiar with any. I only know what I think would happen with me, having tried to draw with my left hand before just to experiment.
I think I would eventually be able to draw as well with my left hand as my right, but it would take years of work to do so. Observing, drawing and visual creativity takes place in the brain, but the subtleties and skills of the hand to execute what the brain visualizes is a mechanical process, and involves delicate and precise control of that process. You cannot expect a hand with which I have been drawing since I was 2 years old to be replaced suddenly with one I have almost never used to draw. The synapses that fire and control the movement and the muscles that obey the brain’s commands are not in sync, nor used to the demands that would be placed on them. I do not know how long it would take, but it would certainly take a great deal of time to even become competent with my left hand, let alone good with it. I also suspect the phenomenon known as ‘phantom limb syndrome’ would interfere with one’s adapting to the sole use of a non-dominant limb. Phantom Limb Syndrome is when someone who has lost a limb still feels sensations from the nerves that uses to send signals from that limb, like it was still there. That would fool the brain into thinking the dominant hand was still available, and would slow the progress on getting the other limb in training. that’s just a guess, however.
If, God forbid, I was to lose the use of my right hand, I would have to shut down my career until I could develop the necessary control of my left hand to continue doing the type of work a client would expect. It might be that, by the time I was ready to return to that career, I’d have no career left. Who knows? . . . I hope I never have to find out.
Thanks to Jack Coleman¬¨‚Ä† for the question. If you have a question you want answered for the mailbag about cartooning, illustration, MAD Magazine, caricature or similar,¬¨‚Ä†e-mail me¬¨‚Ä†and I’ll try and answer it here!
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901 New profile pic courtesy of my self-caricature for the Scott Maiko penned article “Gotcha! Mug Shots of Common (but Despicable) Criminals” from MAD 550
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