Right Brain, Left Hand

Leonardo Da Vinci was an artist and an engineer. Reading Walter Isaacson’s LEONARDO DA VINCI I’ve learned he was an architect, a sculptor, a musician, and an artist. He was gay, a vegetarian, handsome, charming. And, he was left handed.

Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 to May 2, 1519)

I’m an engineer, a writer, a guitar player and I’m left handed! Is in any wonder I fan gush over a man dead for 500 years.

The thing that has entertained me the most is that Leonardo wrote in a mirrored handwriting, right to left. Back in his day, they wrote with ink. Old school worked with ink. Here’s a secret…


Case in point, my sophomore year in college, I worked for an engineering firm doing entry level site development (laying out parking lots, neighborhoods, and the like). This was right at the cusp of the industry changing from hand drafted drawings and computer aided drafting. I was given an assignment. I don’t remember what it was, just that it wasn’t complicated. Except I was hand inking letters using India ink. I had to use this device called a Leroy Lettering Set that made perfect letters by tracing an arm over carved letters while the attached ink pen wrote on the mylar.

Image result for leroy lettering set

Leroy was made for a right-handed person. Just looking at the little gizmo, can you imagine using it with your left hand?

Where there’s a will, there’s a convoluted way of twisting your arm until the letters emerge. Except, somehow, I got a spot of ink on the fat part of my left hand, in that place where all left handed people collect ink and lead.

I had to leave work to change my clothes because I had ink EVERYWHERE.

How much easier (and cleaner) it would have been in I had written mirrored, like Leonardo. So, a few decades later, I’m starting to write mirrored.

As a left-handed person writing left-to-right, I push the pencil away as I drag my hand over the newly written text. In writing mirrored, the letters are formed in the same way a right-handed person does, pulling the pencil toward the hand as my hand moves across the empty page. Here’s a sample of my new writing….

Ok, it looks like a 4th grader’s handwriting. In my defense, I’ve only been writing for a few weeks. Cursive is easier in the sense that connecting one letter to the next makes the links more natural. Some of my letters are really fugly. Printing is my go-to. All capitals are fairly simple. Lower case kills on b and d and g, j, and q. To prove it’s really mirrored, here is the same image, flipped.

Writing mirrored is a fun brain teaser. Reading mirrored is a different kind of puzzle. I’ve started writing mirrored on a regular basis. This past week, I’ve started writing mirrored in the notebook I keep for work. If anyone looks over my shoulder, I’m going to have some explaining to do.

In the next few weeks, we’ll explore what science and art have to say on the topic of right brain, left hand, but let’s start with a little fun. Since my mirrored handwriting looks like a child’s, let’s play a child’s game. It’s an easy one. All you have to do is read the mirrored nursery rhyme. For an added challenge, try writing one yourself!

Until next time, stay curious.

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