Thank you to all who participated in the art-based inquiry on alternating hand drawing in pandemic times! This webpage contains draft results and analysis of my artmaking using this technique and the art-based participant inquiry. If you have any comments or concerns please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org
The COVID-19 pandemic and public health lockdown evoked strong feelings of anxiety, isolation, and impotence, constricting access to internal resources of creativity. This is a study of the ‘family resemblances’ between my own ‘research-creation’ alongside participant ‘art-based’ inquiry (Chapman and Sawchuk, 2012) to understand whether use of an alternating hand technique could open creative pathways.
Overwhelmed as I sat listening to COVID-19 news in early 2020, I was driven to experiment with an alternating hand technique for producing paintings of faces, resulting in 33 finished works. I reflect upon my experience using this technique, exploring creative transversal interdisciplinarity between art and law (Manning, 2015), and contemplating face drawing’s power to narrate past, present and future legal orders (Belting 2017).
A year later, with the pandemic still lingering, I conducted a participant-based inquiry to ask how others would respond to trying the same alternating hand technique for artmaking. 17 participants produced 34 face images and responded to a questionnaire about ease of performance and creativity using the technique and related pandemic thoughts.
To frame both my self-reflection and the analysis of the participant study, I used case study method (Yin, 2003, 2004), research-creation methodologies (Noury and Paquin, 2020), and compositional visual coding (Rose, 2001).
The paired self-reflection and participant study reveal that the alternating hand technique propels artmaking forward to completion despite mental and bodily resistance, and for many serves to unblock creativity, and sharing this practice builds a sense of community in pandemic isolation. This simple technique raises awareness of mind-body coordination and confidence in the skills of the dominant hand. It could usefully be applied by art teachers, students and artists experiencing an anxiety-produced creative block.