Thursday, 15 November 2012

How to Paint Your Other Hand

One of the most common questions I'm asked is how to paint your non-dominant hand.  The most obvious answer is practice, practice, practice!  Have you ever learnt to touch type or play the piano?   Remember how terrible you were at the beginning?  Well after a while you can train your hand to do those things and the same can be said for nail art!

But of course I have some other tips too, I think the best thing is to tell you how I learnt how to do it.

I've always been good at drawing and painting but had always done it with my right hand.  When I tried to paint or draw with my left it was pretty much a total car crash lol. Then I started nail art and had to train my left hand from scratch, and began by using a dotter.  Becoming confident with a dotting tool with your non-dominant hand takes a while, even getting the angle right as you press down on the nail takes time, but it's a great place to start.

If you begin with dots, even if you're using a toothpick, you will start to become more precise with your movements and in controlling your fingers.  Try out my 'Shooting Star Tutorial', it's a perfect design to help you practise your dotting....

Next, I moved on to a striper.  A good quality striper brush will make a huge difference as they're more flexible and move in a more fluid way across the nail.  Start with long stripes down the nail, just getting them straight is a challenge.  Then try diagonal and horizontal, remembering to move your finger (of the nail that's being painted) as well as your brush.  You can see me doing straight lines with my left hand in this video...

You'll end up being able to use your striper in more creative, detailed ways.  I can now be precise with it even with my left hand.

Finally I was ready to try using a fine detail brush.  Becoming more skilled with the dotter and striper made this so much easier but it does take more patience for me to use it.  I have to concentrate more and be prepared to fix more mistakes.  I'm much more careful about making sure my elbows are both on the table and my hands are supported, either by putting them on the table too, or by resting the little finger of my left hand on my right hand as I paint it.

One of the best results I've had with my left hand was my Piglet tutorial -

Which brings me on to acrylic paints.  They make the process so much easier as you can wipe them off if you make a mistake.  If your base polish is too wet and you don't dare wipe it off, you can easily cover over the mistake with more acrylic paint as it's very opaque and forgiving.  Once one layer has dried it's highly unlikely that another will mix with it when layered on top (unlike nail polish)

My final piece of advice would be to try and strengthen your non-dominant hand in every day life.  I learnt this from (trying to) learning the piano.  Simply using your other hand for normal things like using a spoon, cleaning your teeth, eating a meal with a fork etc, will slowly build up strength and precision in it.  That will then help you with holding and controlling a brush, but this is a long term thing.   Almost every day I think 'ooh I'll eat these Pringles with my left hand' or 'I should change to my left hand to brush my hair'.   Small things, but it helps, especially if you're taking a break from nail art but want to keep your other hand at the skill level you've gotten it to.

There is one way to cheat though.....

Have you heard of the plastic bag technique?  It's a way of making your own decals, let me explain.

Take a thick plastic bag, a sandwich bag is perfect, and paint your image just as you would on your nails, with your good hand.   Cover in topcoat and let it dry for 24 hours.  When it's fully dry it should easily peel away from the plastic....if it doesn't then leave it a little longer or try a fast dry topcoat.  Put some topcoat on your nail and place your homemade decal on, pressing down with 2 fingers over the nail to make sure it sticks fully.  Topcoat and your done!

A fabulous way of having nail art that you've painted with your good hand on all 10 nails!

Well that's all I can think of for now, I hope it's helped you if you're struggling.

Thank you so much for reading my post,

Arcadia    x


  1. Great! I saw the video with that tips in youtube, and I started to use my no-dominant hand for things like eat, clean, etc... it really helps. Hope that everything go well with your blog ^^

  2. I just came across your Youtube channle searching for inspirational nailart techniques. Then found my way here. You do great designs, the are creative, unique and always nice to look at. Thank you for shareing your expirience! Also this tutorial was helpful to me not loosing faith in nailpainting and trying it furthermore.

    I'm excited of your next post.

    1. That's so kind, and wonderful to know, thank you!

  3. It's really helpful :) I am definitely going to work with my left hand more!
    Looking forward to next post :D