Sunday, January 9

Right Side of the Brain

A couple of weeks ago I picked up "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards at the Free-Library's second-hand book store. I've been thinking about the importance of drawing skills a lot lately. "If you can learn to write you can learn to draw" was the rational for having drawing lessons in public schools back in the 1870's. Unfortunately, most people stop learning to draw in elementary school and never surpass a 10-year-old stage of drawing development. It's a great book for helping anyone get past the "I can't draw a straight line" freeze. One of the exercises is to copy a drawing of Igor Stravinsky by Picasso UPSIDEDOWN. The flipped orientation helps your brain get past the naming tendency of "eyes, hands, glasses" which forces us into symbolic representations so that you can focus on lines, forms, comparisons, proportions, etc required for truly realistic drawing.
 Funnily, this is an exercise my 7th grade art teacher had us try. I think he had us do every exercise in that book, actually. It must have worked, because here I am 20 years later and I know how to draw. Among the pictures in the portfolio of childhood artwork my mother recently returned to me was my 7th grade drawing of Igor Stravinsky:
 Can you tell I was in middle school? (Note the peace sign next to my signature!). Haha! I just noticed you can see my handprints from trying to press the paper down on the scanner since the page was too big for the lid to cover it. My recent drawing only took me about 15 minutes, but I'm sure my middle school drawing took at least an hour or more. I can remember being very careful with it. I had my 11-year old try the exercise too:
 Not bad considering she's not a big fan of drawing lately, and she also spent only about 10 minutes on it. I like the other image Edwards offers for upsidedown copying, a drawing of a Persian court jester:
I love drawing. It's been a long time since I actively drew just for pleasure or practice. For the past few years I felt that idle sketching time was time better spent working on more complex studio projects. I would still sketch to plan out compositions or jot down ideas, but I wouldn't sit and draw from observation for extended periods of time. 


  1. Your drawing is amazing Marie!!

  2. Thanks Karen! You're quite handy with pen and paper yourself!