Try Drawing Upside Down And You’ll Be Amazed By What Happens

Try Drawing Upside Down And You'll Be Amazed By What Happens


Try drawing upside down with your non-dominant hand. You’ll be truly astonished by the results…

It’s been around for a long time, but there’s a drawing exercise that asks you to draw a still-life upside-down… and with your non-writing hand. A group of friends got together to try it at a Head Over Heels meeting.

Here are the results…


upside down picture

upside down picture

We were all struck by how much movement there was in the pictures. They were full of emotion, life, essence. We weren’t artists (as you can probably tell) but we all felt there was a vibrant quality to these pictures. They seemed much better than anything we’d produce normally in the same amount of time.

The Upside-down Drawing Technique

  • Grab a postcard or whatever, then turn it upside-down.
  • Draw it with your non-dominant hand – that is, the hand you don’t use to write with.
  • Make sure you hold your pen, pencil or drawing tool loosely at the very tip – as far away from the nib, brush or drawing end as possible. This will give you a relaxed but quite shaky hold on your drawing tool. You’re relinquishing control…
  • Set yourself a deadline of about ten minutes to draw what you see.

The Thinking Behind The Exercise

  • You draw what you see, not what you think you see. This exercise helps you develop your ability to recognise shapes and lines in a picture.
  • The theory is you’re drawing with the right side of your brain. The left side of the brain is meant to process visual cues into familiar things – that means your brain is second-guessing you. Drawing with your non-dominant hand sidetracks that part of your brain.
  • You don’t need to worry too much about left/right brains and hands. It’s just about using your non-dominant hand and distancing yourself from what you think you’re looking at by turning the picture you’re copying upside down.
  • You stop getting obssessed with your goal of copying that still-life in a pre-determined way. This frees your artist’s perception.

The end results are really quite rewarding, especially when your hand is so wobbly while drawing. It can help you build confidence in your artwork to see the results. If you’ve ever thought you can’t draw, this exercise may help you discover you can!

If you’re interested, you can find more exercises like this in a very useful book called The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron. You can also explore Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. This exercise was brought to you by Tiu, who runs really interesting Eyeshine creativity projects in beautiful spaces.