Learning on the right side of the brain

Autumn’s overstuffed backpacks and pencil cases always trigger feelings of expectation and excitement. And although school bells and hall passes may be a distant memory, it’s never too late to learn something new. I’ve always wanted to be able to draw but any attempts inevitably led to frustration and doodles that a second grader would be embarrassed to own up to. Rather than blaming a lack of technique, drawing has always seemed like a kind of magic power I was unfortunately born without.

Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of Click here to view Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards in SPL catalogthe Brain likes to compare learning to draw to learning to read. If a child struggles to read, we don’t give up and tell them they can’t do it. And like learning to read, you have to know the basics before you can get started.

Her method involves “tricking” your brain into shutting off its logical left side in order to get past the drawing in symbols we learned as children and really “see” the object in front of you. For example, in drawing a table, our left brain tells us that each leg of the table is the same length and we need our right brain to take over in order to “see” the table in perspective and render it realistically.

Depending on how verbal or “left-brained” one is, spending thirty minutes in concentrated mental silence can be a terrifying prospect. But the step-by-step instructions are excellent for those intimidated by the process.  The simple structure of the lessons lends itself well to a self-taught project that can be done at your own pace.

There is a reason this is one of the most recommended books for beginning artists. My sketches won’t be up at SAM any time soon but I am convinced that drawing is a skill that can and should be learned by everyone.

Other books on learning how to draw can be found in the library’s catalog here.

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