The Scratchboard Comic is moving forward, albeit at a slower than usual pace. I am put on anti-inflammatory pills for the right hand since a week back, which will hopefully eventually turn it back to usual. In the meantime I’m drawing left-handed, but doing the text and the lines made with rulers with the right hand.
I had worked up quite a speed during the last pages before the hand gave up, which is becoming quite clear when comparing average hours-per-page and hours-per-panel. I rarely count the time, but a pretty fair estimate is that a regular panel takes about two hours to draw right-handed.
I have started to categorize my panels in terms of detail/difficulty, on a scale from 1 to 3. This categorization is based solely on feeling. Here are some examples:
A category 1. Easy and simple. Probably takes between one and two hours (right-handed).
A category 2. Some detail, some more elements. Probably around two and three hours (right-handed).
A category 3. Lots of detail, usually a detailed background, usually elements requiring some form of research from photos etc.
I guess this panel would’ve taken around three to four hours to do right-handed, but I just spent around six and a half hour on this sucker, doing it somewhere around 10/90 right/left-handed. The straight lines made with rulers were done right-handed (I just can’t seem to work a ruler any other way), the drawing on the t-shirt as well, as well as some occasions where I felt like I needed extra precision.
Drawing left-handed, without the usual speed, I find that I draw a lot more category 3 panels. Sometimes I turn category 2’s into 3’s.
I keep marvelling at how adaptable the non-dominant hand is. I never would’ve imagined drawing left-handed would go so well. People express admiration for my advancements, when really they should be expressing admiration for the adaptability of the human body. After overcoming my pitiful state of woe during the first weeks of the left-handed exile, I started surfing around the web for accounts of people being forced to switch hands. I didn’t find much, the usual stupid quasi-scientific articles such as “10 excercises to become ambidextrous in just one month!” along with clinical accounts of amputees who could never play the violin again. I didn’t amputate my hand, so I felt stupid hanging around those places, as I felt they would be offended if some person ask them for advice being like “well, I didn’t lose my hand, but it hurts when I try to draw with it”. But, yeah, I did find this: http://www.johnnywander.com, a webcomic blog whose main artist suffered the same thing as I back in August 2012 (you can scroll back) and did some left-handed comics for a few weeks.
As for my earlier existential questions of where sense for art resides in a person, clearly there were enough of it in places other than my right hand to be able to get by without it. However, I do have to protest people saying that art is solely in the mind. It starts there, I guess, but if you can’t transcribe it into the material world, it’s something else. Isn’t that what art is? The translation between the inner and the outer? Thoughts, feeling and impressions translated into the material world? I guess I could express myself without my hands, too, but it would be hard having grown up with both of them, having put so many years into making them my main instruments. It would be like starting at zero. That is what I feared drawing left-handed would be like.
Well, time will tell how much deeper into this subject I’ll dive, given the recovery of my right hand. Sorry for this rant, people!