Thank you for visiting. Here you will find posts based on my book The Power of Your Other Hand: Unlocking creativity and inner wisdom through the right side of your brain (new edition, 2019 Conari Press), featuring excerpts from the book, success stories from readers and students, my own experiences, and drawing and writing prompts using this technique. Enjoy!
~Lucia Capacchione, Phd, ATR

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Bilateral Drawing: Balancing and Relaxing with Both Hands

In Chapter Five of The Power of Your Other Hand, I introduced bilateral drawing. That is defined as drawing done with both hands at the same time. Since the book was first published in 1988, many therapists and art therapists have applied bilateral drawing with clients. One of these is Cornelia Elbrecht, who has written a whole book on the subject entitled, Healing Trauma with Guided Drawing: A Sensorimotor Art Therapy Approach to Bilateral Body Mapping (North Atlantic Books, 2018). I recommend this book for anyone interested in either trauma work or the benefits of bilateral drawing.

In this post, you will see some examples of my own bilateral journal drawings and a video by Amanda Joy Wells, a graduate of our Creative Journal Expressive Arts and Visioning® Coach Training programs. Some of these drawings illustrate techniques I introduced in The Power of Your Other Hand and later books. You’ll see these in the video below. Other drawings show new variations on this method from my own journal. I will also discuss benefits of bilateral drawing based on my observations of clients and students for over 40 years.

I started the journal session illustrated here by putting some relaxing music on. I suggest using music that you enjoy and that relaxes your mind and body. Music can help to soothe a busy, over-active and chatty left brain and stressed out nervous system. The first drawing shows a single page in my journal (8 ½ X 11 in.) on which I drew with two crayons in 2 different colors. I had been stressed out due to many professional responsibilities I had been carrying at the time. I realized later that the drawing resembled graphs I’ve seen of the human brain. I had not intended this. It just happened. The connecting fibers, the corpus callosum, seem quite clear in this drawing. I was not trying to draw recognizable objects or symbols, but noticed this brain image after the drawing was completed. Somatically (in my body and brain) I felt more relaxed after doing the drawing. That was my goal.

This kind of pattern is called mirror symmetry and is the first prompt in Chapter 5 for bilateral drawing. In observing clients and students, I notice that when asked to draw with both hands simultaneously, this is the most common pattern they make. It is spontaneous and apparently very natural. That makes sense because the human brain and body are actually a mirror symmetry design. So is the common symbol for the human heart. Think of making Valentine cards as a kid by folding paper in half and cutting half a heart. When you open it, a full heart appears. That’s how you can tell it is mirror symmetry. The halves mirror each other. We also make paper people cutouts this way. Why? Because humans are constructed in a mirror symmetry design. So are butterflies, another image that often appears spontaneously in bilateral drawings.

I decided to continue drawing with both hands at once and expanded onto 2 pages, also known as “a double page spread”. Each hand held a different color crayon and even changed colors from time to time. Each hand was drawing the same pattern, but as a mirror image of its “partner’s” drawing. I felt more and more relaxed with each drawing.

On another day, shortly after this, I did a single page drawing, again using both hands, each with it’s own color. Again, this was accompanied by relaxing recorded music. This time I used another prompt from Chapter 5 of The Power of Your Other Hand. In this prompt, you draw with both hands, using 2 colors, and each hand “does it’s own thing.” I found this quite energizing and relaxing at the same time

Then I drew a “duet” with both hands, using 2 different colors. In this case, my hands wanted to draw the same spiral pattern collaboratively. I found this spiraling motion very relaxing and could feel a balancing happening inside my brain. Later I shifted to using 2 pages in the journal for more Bilateral Drawing. My hands spontaneously created multi-colored mirror image drawings. These were more textured and involved and I spent more time drawing them. The result was a relaxed state, but I also noticed a decided increase in energy.

I hear this a lot from people doing bilateral drawing. Regardless of which particular prompt they are using, drawing with both hands seems to help people slow down, relax, enjoy the moment (mindfulness) and what is happening in the now. The report a feeling of freedom, playfulness and urge to be more creative in many ways.

Amanda Joy Wells created this excellent video of bilateral drawing. It demonstrates the benefits and the amazing experience of drawing with both hands at once. Enjoy!


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  1. I also believe in the relaxing aspects of the bilateral drawing approach. Always in a fit of my upset when I pull out my journal and colored markers I can “solve” my present struggle.
    Thanks, Lucia for showcasing this amazing technique for all of our well-being.

  2. Thanks for the beautifully written piece for anyone struggling with tension, stress, or trauma. This is the swinging in the hammock approach to daily living.


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