The new drawing on the right side of the brain


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The new drawing on the right side of the brain

  1. 1. The N e wDrawing on theRight Side ofthe BrainBetty Edwards Jeremy P. T a r c h e r / P u t n a m a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. N e w York
  2. 2. M o s t T a r c h e r / P u t n a m books are available at special quantity discounts for bulkpurchase for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, and educational needs.Special books or book excerpts also can be created to fit specific needs. For details,write Putnam Special Markets, 375 H u d s o n Street, N e w York, N Y 10014.J e r e m y P. T a r c h e r / P u t n a ma m e m b e r ofPenguin P u t n a m Inc.375 Hudson StreetN e w York, N Y 10014www.penguinputnam.comC o p y r i g h t © 1 9 7 9 , 1 9 8 9 , 1 9 9 9 by Betty EdwardsAll rights reserved. T h i s book, or parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any formwithout permission.Published simultaneously in C a n a d aLibrary o f C o n g r e s s C a t a l o g i n g - i n - P u b l i c a t i o n DataEdwards, Betty. T h e new d r a w i n g on the right side of the brain / Betty Edwards.—Rev. and expanded ed. p. cm. Rev. and expanded ed. of: D r a w i n g on the right side of the brain. Includes bibliographical references. ISBN 0 - 8 7 4 7 7 - 4 1 9 - 5 (hardcover). — ISBN 0-87477-4Z4-1 (pbk.) 1. D r a w i n g — T e c h n i q u e . 2. Visual perception. 3. C e r e b r a l dominance.I. Edwards, Betty. D r a w i n g on the right side of the brain. II. T i t l e . III. T i t l e :D r a w i n g on the right side of the brain.NC730.E34 1999 99-35809 C I P741.2—dc2iC o v e r drawing: Betty EdwardsInstructional drawings: Betty Edwards and Brian BomeislerDesign: J o e M o l l o yT y p e s e t in M o n o t y p e Janson by M o n d o T y p o , Inc.Printed in the United States of A m e r i c a40 39 38 37 36 35 34 33 32 31 30 (hardcover) 40 39 38 37 36 35 (pbk)T h i s book is printed on acid-free paper. ©
  3. 3. To the memory of my father,who sharpened my drawing pencilswith his pocketknifewhen I was a child
  4. 4. Contents Preface X Introduction XVIII. D r a w i n g and the Art of Bicycle Riding 12. T h e D r a w i n g Exercises: O n e Step at a T i m e 113. Your Brain: T h e Right and Left of It 274. Crossing Over: Experiencing the Shift from Left to Right 495. D r a w i n g on Memories: Your History as an Artist 676. G e t t i n g A r o u n d Your Symbol System: M e e t i n g Edges and Contours 877. Perceiving the Shape of a Space: T h e Positive Aspects of Negative Space 15
  5. 5. 8. Relationships in a N e w M o d e : Putting Sighting in Perspective 1379. Facing Forward: Portrait Drawing with Ease 16110. T h e Value of Logical Lights and Shadows 19311. Drawing on the Beauty of C o l o r 22912. T h e Z e n of Drawing: Drawing O u t the Artist Within 247 Afterword: Is Beautiful Handwriting a Lost Art? 253 Postscript 267 Glossary 275 Bibliography 279 Index 283
  6. 6. Acknowledgments FIRST, I WISH T O WELCOME my new readers and to thank all those w h o have read this book in the past. It is you who make this t w e n t i e t h - y e a r edition possible by y o u r loyal support. O v e r the past two decades, I have received many letters expressing appre- ciation and even affection. T h i s shows, I think, that in this elec- tronic age, books can still bring authors and readers together as friends. I t r e a s u r e this t h o u g h t , b e c a u s e I l o v e b o o k s m y s e l f and count as friends authors I have never met e x c e p t through their books. M a n y p e o p l e have contributed to this work. In the following brief acknowledgment, I wish to thank at least a few. Professor Roger W. Sperry, for his generosity and kindness in discussing the original text with me. Dr. J. W i l l i a m Bergquist, whose u n t i m e l y death in 1987 sad- d e n e d his family, friends, and colleagues. Dr. Bergquist gave me unfailingly good advice and generous assistance with the first edi- tion of the book and with the research that preceded it. My publisher,Jeremy Tarcher, for his enthusiastic support of the first, second, and now the third edition of the book. My son, Brian Bomeisler, who has so generously put his skills, energy, and e x p e r i e n c e as a artist into revising, refining, and adding to these lessons in drawing. His insights have truly moved the work forward over the past ten years. My daughter, A n n e Bomeisler Farrell, who has been my best editor due to her understanding of my work and her superb lan- guage skills. M y closest c o l l e a g u e , Rachael B o w e r T h i e l e , who keeps e v e r y t h i n g on track and in order, and w i t h o u t whose dedicated help Id have had to retire years ago.VIII ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  7. 7. My esteemed designer, Joe Molloy, who makes superb designseem effortless. M y friend Professor D o n D a m e , for g e n e r o u s l y l e n d i n g m eboth his library of books on c o l o r and his time, thoughts, andexpertise on color. My editor at T a r c h e r / P u t n a m , W e n d y Hubbert. M y team o f teachers, Brian Bomeisler, M a r k a H i t t - B u r n s ,A r l e n e C a r t o z i a n , Dana C r o w e , Lisbeth Firmin, L y n d a G r e e n -berg, Elyse Klaidman, Suzanne Merritt, Kristin N e w t o n , Linda JoRussell, and Rachael T h i e l e , who have worked with me at varioussites around the nation, for their unfaltering d e v o t i o n to ourefforts. T h e s e fine instructors have added greatly to the scope ofthe work by reaching out to new groups. I am grateful to T h e Bingham T r u s t and to the Austin F o u n -dation for their staunch support of my work. And finally, my warmest thanks to the hundreds of students—actually, thousands by n o w — I have been privileged to know overthe years, for making my work so rewarding, both personally andprofessionally. I hope you go on drawing forever. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
  8. 8. PrefaceT w e n t y years have passed since the first publication of Drawing onthe Right Side of the Brain in J u l y 1979. T e n years ago, in 1989,I revised the book and published a second edition, bringing it upto date with what I had learned during that decade. Now, in 1999,I am revising the book one more time. T h i s latest revision repre-sents a c u l m i n a t i o n of my lifelong engrossment in drawing as aquintessentially human activity.How I came to write this bookO v e r the years, many p e o p l e have asked me how I came to writethis book. As often happens, it was the result of numerous chanceevents and s e e m i n g l y random choices. First, my training andb a c k g r o u n d w e r e in fine arts—drawing and painting, not in arteducation. T h i s point is important, I think, because I came toteaching with a different set of expectations. After a modest try at living the artists life, I began giving pri-vate lessons in painting and drawing in my studio to help pay thebills. T h e n , n e e d i n g a steadier source of income, I returned toU C L A to earn a t e a c h i n g credential. On c o m p l e t i o n , I begant e a c h i n g at V e n i c e H i g h S c h o o l in L o s A n g e l e s . It was a mar-v e l o u s job. We had a small art department of five teachers andlively, bright, challenging, and difficult students. A r t was theirfavorite subject, it seemed, and our students often swept up manyawards in the then-popular citywide art contests. At V e n i c e H i g h , we tried to reach students in their first year,q u i c k l y teach them to draw well, and then train them up, almostlike athletes, for the art competitions during their junior andsenior years. (I now have serious reservations about student con- PREFACE
  9. 9. tests, but at the time they provided great motivation and, perhapsbecause there were so many winners, apparently caused littleharm.) T h o s e five years at Venice High started my p u z z l e m e n t aboutdrawing. As the newest teacher of the group, I was assigned thejob of bringing the students up to speed in drawing. Unlike manyart educators w h o believe that ability to draw w e l l is d e p e n d e n ton inborn talent, I expected that all of the students would learn todraw. I was astonished by how difficult they found drawing, nomatter how hard I tried to teach them and they tried to learn. I would often ask myself, " W h y is it that these students, w h oI know are learning other skills, have so m u c h trouble learning todraw something that is right in front of their eyes?" I would some-times quiz them, asking a student who was having difficulty draw-ing a still-life setup, " C a n you see in the still-life here on the tablethat the orange is in front of the vase?" "Yes," replied the student,"I see that." "Well," I said, "in your drawing, y o u have the orangeand the vase o c c u p y i n g the same space." T h e student answered,"Yes, I know. I didnt know how to draw that." "Well," I w o u l d saycarefully, "you look at the still-life and y o u draw it as y o u see it.""I was looking at it," the student replied. "I just didnt k n o w h o wto draw that." " W e l l , " I w o u l d say, v o i c e rising, " y o u just look ati t . . . " T h e response would come, "I am looking at it," and so on. Another p u z z l e m e n t was that students often seemed to "get"how to draw suddenly rather than acquiring skills gradually.Again, I questioned them: " H o w c o m e y o u can draw this w e e kwhen y o u couldnt draw last week?" Often the reply w o u l d be, "Idont know. Im just seeing things differently." "In what way differ-ently?" I would ask. "I cant say—just differently." I would pursuethe point, u r g i n g students to put it into words, w i t h o u t success.Usually students ended by saying, "I just cant describe it." In frustration, I began to observe myself: W h a t was I d o i n gwhen I was drawing? S o m e things q u i c k l y showed u p — t h a t Icouldnt talk and draw at the same time, for e x a m p l e , and thatI lost track of time while drawing. My puzzlement continued. PREFACE XI
  10. 10. O n e day, on impulse, I asked the students to copy a Picasso d r a w i n g upside down. T h a t small experiment, more than any- thing else I had tried, showed that s o m e t h i n g very different is g o i n g on d u r i n g the act of drawing. To my surprise, and to the students surprise, the finished drawings were so extremely well d o n e that I asked the class, " H o w c o m e y o u can draw upside d o w n w h e n y o u cant draw right-side up?" T h e students responded, " U p s i d e d o w n , we didnt know what we were draw- ing." T h i s was the greatest p u z z l e m e n t of all and left me simply baffled. D u r i n g the following year, 1968, first reports of psychobiolo- gist R o g e r W. Sperrys research on human brain-hemisphere functions, for which he later received a N o b e l Prize, appeared in the press. R e a d i n g Sperrys work caused in me something of an A h - h a ! e x p e r i e n c e . His stunning finding, that the human brain uses t w o fundamentally different modes of thinking, one verbal, analytic, and sequential and one visual, perceptual, and simulta- neous, s e e m e d to cast light on my questions about drawing. T h e idea that one is shifting to a different-from-usual way of think- i n g / s e e i n g fitted my o w n experience of drawing and illuminated my observation of my students. Avidly, I read everything I could find about Sperrys work and did my best to explain to my students its possible relationship to drawing. T h e y too became interested in the problems of drawing and soon they w e r e a c h i e v i n g great advances in their drawing skills. I was w o r k i n g on my masters d e g r e e in A r t at the time and realized that if I wanted to seriously search for an educational application of Sperrys work in the field of drawing, I would need further study. Even though by that time I was teaching full time at Los A n g e l e s T r a d e T e c h n i c a l C o l l e g e , I d e c i d e d to return yet again to U C L A for a doctoral degree. For the following three years, I attended e v e n i n g classes that c o m b i n e d the fields of art, psychology, and education. T h e subject of my doctoral disserta- tion was "Perceptual Skills in D r a w i n g , " using u p s i d e - d o w n drawing as an experimental variable. After receiving my doctoral degree in 1976, I began teaching drawing in the art department ofXII PREFACE
  11. 11. California State University, L o n g Beach. I needed a drawing text-book that included Sperrys research. D u r i n g the next three yearsI wrote Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. Since the book was first published in 1979, the ideas I e x p r e s -sed about learning to draw have become surprisingly widespread,much to my amazement and delight. I feel honored by the m a n yforeign language translations of Drawing on the Right Side of theBrain. E v e n more surprising, individuals and groups w o r k i n g infields not remotely c o n n e c t e d with d r a w i n g have found ways touse the ideas in my book. A few examples will indicate the diver-sity: nursing schools, drama workshops, corporate training semi-nars, sports-coaching schools, real-estate marketing associations,psychologists, counselors of delinquent youths, writers, hair styl-ists, even a school for training private investigators. C o l l e g e anduniversity art teachers across the nation also have i n c o r p o r a t e dmany of the techniques into their teaching repertoires. Public-school teachers are also using my book. After t w e n t y -five years of budget cuts in schools arts programs, I am happy toreport that state departments of e d u c a t i o n and public schoolboards of education are starting to turn to the arts as one way tohelp repair our failing educational systems. Educational adminis-trators, however, tend to be ambivalent about the purpose ofincluding the arts, often still relegating arts education to "enrich-ment." This terms hidden meaning is "valuable but not essential."My view, in contrast, is that the arts are essential for trainingspecific, visual, perceptual ways of thinking, just as the "3 Rs" areessential for training specific, verbal, numerical, analytical waysof thinking. I believe that both thinking m o d e s — o n e to c o m p r e - 3- W O R K I N G D R A W I N G FROM WHICH THE ORIGINALhend the details and the other to "see" the w h o l e picture, for PHONOGRAPH WAS B U I L Texample, are vital for critical-thinking skills, extrapolation of In the history of inventions, manymeaning, and problem solving. creative ideas began with small sketches. T h e examples above are To help p u b l i c - s c h o o l administrators see the utility of arts by Galileo, Jefferson, Faraday, andeducation, I believe we must find new ways to teach students how transfer skills learned through the arts to a c a d e m i c subjects Henning Nelms, Thinking With aand problem solving. Transfer of learning is traditionally Pencil, N e w York: T e n Speed Press,regarded as a most difficult kind of instruction and, unfortunately, 1981, p. xiv.transfer is often left to chance. T e a c h e r s hope that students will PREFACE XIII
  12. 12. "get" the connection, say, b e t w e e n learning to draw and "seeing" solutions to problems, or between learning English grammar and logical, sequential thinking. Corporate training seminars My w o r k with various corporations represents, I believe, one aspect of transfer of learning, in this instance, from drawing skills to a specific kind of problem solving sought by corporate e x e c u - tives. D e p e n d i n g on h o w m u c h corporate time is available, a t y p i c a l seminar takes three days: a day and a half focused on d e v e l o p i n g d r a w i n g skills and the remaining time devoted to using drawing for problem solving. G r o u p s vary in size but most often number about twenty-five. P r o b l e m s can be v e r y specific ("What is ?"— a specific c h e m i c a l problem that had troubled a particular c o m - pany for several years) or very general ("What is our relationship with our customers?") or something in between specific and gen- eral ("How can members of our special unit work together more productively?"). T h e first day and a half of d r a w i n g exercises includes the"Analog" drawings are purely lessons in this book through the drawing of the hand. T h e t w o -expressive drawings, with no nam- fold objective of the drawing lessons is to present the five percep-able objects depicted, using only theexpressive quality of line—or lines. tual strategies emphasized in the book and to demonstrate eachUnexpectedly, persons untrained in participants potential artistic capabilities, given effective instruc-art are able to use this language— tion.that is, produce expressive draw- T h e p r o b l e m - s o l v i n g segment begins with exercises in usingings—and are also able to read thedrawings for meaning. T h e drawing d r a w i n g to think with. T h e s e exercises, called analog drawings,lessons of the seminars first seg- are described in my book Drawing on the Artist Within. Participantsment are used mainly to increase use the so-called "language of line," first to draw out the problemartistic self-confidence and confi- and then to make visible possible solutions. T h e s e expressivedence in the efficacy of analogdrawing. drawings b e c o m e the v e h i c l e for g r o u p discussion and analysis, guided, but not led, by me. Participants use the concepts of edges (boundaries), negative spaces (often called "white spaces" in busi- ness parlance), relationships (parts of the problem v i e w e d pro- portionally and "in perspective"), lights and shadows (extra- polation from the k n o w n to the as-yet unknown), and the gestalt xiv PREFACE
  13. 13. of the problem (how the parts fit—or dont fit—together). T h e p r o b l e m - s o l v i n g s e g m e n t c o n c l u d e s with a n e x t e n d e dsmall drawing of an object, different for each participant, w h i c hhas been chosen as somehow related to the problem at hand. T h i sdrawing, c o m b i n i n g perceptual skills with p r o b l e m solving,evokes an extended shift to an alternate mode of thinking which Ihave termed " R - m o d e , " during which the participant focuses onthe problem under discussion while also c o n c e n t r a t i n g on thedrawing. T h e g r o u p then explores insights derived from thisprocess. T h e results of the seminars have been s o m e t i m e s startling,sometimes almost amusing in terms of the obviousness of e n g e n -dered solutions. An example of a startling result was a surprisingrevelation e x p e r i e n c e d by the g r o u p w o r k i n g on the c h e m i c a lproblem. It turned out that the group had so enjoyed their specialstatus and favored position and they were so intrigued by the fas-cinating problem that they were in no hurry to solve it. Also, solv-ing the problem w o u l d mean b r e a k i n g up the g r o u p andreturning to more h u m d r u m work. A l l of this showed up c l e a r l yin their drawings. T h e curious thing was that the g r o u p leaderexclaimed, "I thought that might be what was g o i n g on, but I justdidnt believe it!" T h e solution? T h e g r o u p realized that theyneeded—and w e l c o m e d — a serious deadline and assurance thatother, equally interesting problems awaited them. A n o t h e r surprising result c a m e in response to the questionabout customer relations. Participants drawings in that seminarwere consistently c o m p l e x and detailed. N e a r l y e v e r y d r a w i n grepresented customers as small objects floating in large e m p t yspaces. Areas of great c o m p l e x i t y e x c l u d e d these small objects.T h e ensuing discussion clarified the groups (unconscious) indif-ference toward and inattention to customers. T h a t raised otherquestions: W h a t was in all of that e m p t y negative space, and howcould the complex areas (identified in discussion as aspects of thework that were more interesting to the group) make c o n n e c t i o nwith customer concerns? T h i s g r o u p planned to e x p l o r e theproblem further. PREFACE XV
  14. 14. Krishnamurti: "So where does T h e group seeking more productive ways of workingsilence begin? Does it begin when t o g e t h e r c a m e to a c o n c l u s i o n that was so obvious the groupthought ends? Have you ever triedto end thought?" a c t u a l l y l a u g h e d about it. T h e i r c o n c l u s i o n was that they needed to improve communication within the group. MembersQuestioner: "How do you do it?" w e r e n e a r l y all scientists h o l d i n g advanced degrees in c h e m -Krishnamurti: "I dont know, but istry and physics. Apparently, each person had a specifichave you ever tried it? First of all, assignment for one part of the w h o l e task, but they worked inwho is the entity who is trying tostop thought?" different buildings w i t h different groups of associates and on i n d i v i d u a l time schedules. For m o r e than twenty-five yearsQuestioner: "The thinker." they had n e v e r m e t t o g e t h e r as a g r o u p until we held ourKrishnamurti: "Its another thought, three-day seminar.isnt it? Thought is trying to stopitself, so there is a battle between I h o p e these e x a m p l e s give-at least some flavor of the c o r -the thinker and the thought.... porate seminars. Participants, of course, are highly educated,Thought says, I must stop thinking successful professionals. Working as I do with a different way ofbecause then I shall experience amarvelous s t a t e . . . . One thought is thinking, the seminars seem to enable these highly trainedtrying to suppress another thought, people to see things differently. Because the participants them-so there is conflict. When I see this selves generate the drawings, they provide real e v i d e n c e toas a fact, see it totally, understand refer to. T h u s , insights are hard to dismiss and the discussionsit completely, have an insight into stay very focused.i t . . . then the mind is quiet. Thiscomes about naturally and easily I can o n l y s p e c u l a t e w h y this process works effectively towhen the mind is quiet to watch, to get at information that is often hidden or ignored or "explainedlook, to see." away" by the l a n g u a g e m o d e of thinking. I think its possible — J . Krishnamurti that the language system ( L - m o d e , in my terminology) regards You Are the World, 1972 drawing—especially analog drawing—as unimportant, even as just a form of doodling. Perhaps, L - m o d e drops out of the task, p u t t i n g its c e n s o r i n g function on hold. Apparently, what the person k n o w s but doesnt k n o w at a verbal, conscious level therefore comes pouring out in the drawings. Traditional exec- utives, of course, m a y regard this information as "soft," but I suspect that these unspoken reactions do have some effect on the u l t i m a t e success and failure of corporations. Broadly speaking, a glimpse of u n d e r l y i n g affective dynamics probably helps more than it hinders.
  15. 15. IntroductionT h e subject of how people learn to draw has never lost its charmand fascination for me. Just w h e n I begin to think I have a graspon the subject, a w h o l e new vista or p u z z l e m e n t opens up. T h i sbook, therefore, is a work in progress, d o c u m e n t i n g my u n d e r -standing at this time. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, I believe, was one of thefirst practical educational applications of Roger Sperrys pioneer-ing insight into the dual nature of human thinking—verbal, ana-lytic thinking mainly located in the left hemisphere, and visual,perceptual thinking mainly located in the right hemisphere.Since 1979, many writers in other fields have p r o p o s e d applica-tions of the research, each in turn suggesting n e w ways toenhance both thinking modes, thereby increasing potential forpersonal growth. During the past ten years, my colleagues and I have polishedand expanded the techniques described in the original book. Wehave changed some procedures, added some, and d e l e t e d some.My main purpose in revising the book and presenting this thirdedition is to bring the work up-to-date again for my readers. As you will see, much of the original work is retained, havingwithstood the test of time. But one important organizing princi-ple was missing in the original text, for the curious reason thatI c o u l d n t see it u n t i l after the b o o k was p u b l i s h e d . I w a n t toreemphasize it here, because it forms the overall structure withinwhich the reader can see how the parts of the book fit together toform a w h o l e . T h i s k e y p r i n c i p l e is: D r a w i n g is a g l o b a l or"whole" skill requiring only a limited set of basic components. T h i s insight came to me about six months after the book waspublished, right in the middle of a sentence while t e a c h i n g a INTRODUCTION XVII
  16. 16. Please note that I am referring to g r o u p of students. It was the classic A h - h a ! experience, with thethe learning stage of basic realistic strange physical sensations of rapid heartbeat, caught breath, anddrawing of a perceived image.T h e r e are many other kinds of a sense of joyful excitement at seeing everything fall into place. Idrawing: abstraction, nonobjective had been reviewing with the students the set of skills described indrawing, imaginative drawing, my book w h e n it hit me that this was it, there were no more, andmechanical drawing, and so forth. that the book had a hidden content of which I had been unaware.Also, drawing can be defined in I c h e c k e d the insight with my c o l l e a g u e s and drawing experts.many other ways—by mediums,historic styles, or the artists intent. T h e y agreed. Like other global skills—for example, reading, driving, skiing, and w a l k i n g — d r a w i n g is made up of c o m p o n e n t skills that b e c o m e integrated into a w h o l e skill. O n c e you have learned the c o m p o n e n t s and have integrated them, y o u can draw—just as o n c e y o u have learned to read, y o u know how to read for life; once you have learned to walk, you know how to walk for life. You dont have to go on forever adding additional basic skills. Progress takes the form of practice, refinement of technique, and learning what to use the skills for. T h i s was an exciting discovery because it meant that a person can learn to draw within a reasonably short time. And, in fact, my c o l l e a g u e s and I now teach a five-day seminar, fondly known as our " K i l l e r C l a s s , " w h i c h enables students to acquire the basic component skills of realistic drawing in five days of intense learn- ing. Five basic skills of drawing T h e global skill of drawing a perceived object, person, landscape (something that you see "out there") requires only five basic c o m - p o n e n t skills, no more. T h e s e skills are not drawing skills. T h e y are perceptual skills, listed as follows: One: the perception of edges Two: the perception of spaces T h r e e : the perception of relationships Four: the perception of lights and shadows Five: the perception of the whole, or gestalt XVIII INTRODUCTION
  17. 17. I am aware, of course, that additional basic skills are requiredfor imaginative, expressive drawing leading to "Art with a capitalA." Of these, I have found two and o n l y two additional skills:drawing from m e m o r y and drawing from imagination. A n d thereremain, naturally, many techniques of d r a w i n g — m a n y ways ofmanipulating drawing m e d i u m s and endless subject matter, forexample. But, to repeat, for skillful realistic drawing of ones per-ceptions, using pencil on paper, the five skills I will teach y o u inthis book provide the required perceptual training. T h o s e five basic skills are the prerequisites for effective use ofthe two additional "advanced" skills, and the set of seven m a yconstitute the entire basic global skill of drawing. M a n y books ondrawing actually focus mainly on the two advanced skills. T h e r e -fore, after you c o m p l e t e the lessons in this book, y o u will findample instruction available to continue learning. I need to emphasize a further point: G l o b a l or w h o l e skills,such as reading, driving, and drawing, in time b e c o m e automatic.As I mentioned above, basic component skills b e c o m e completelyintegrated into the smooth flow of the global skill. But in acquir-ing any new global skill, the initial learning is often a struggle,first with each component skill, then with the smooth integrationof components. Each of my students goes through this process,and so will you. As each new skill is learned, y o u will m e r g e itwith those previously learned until, one day, y o u are simplydrawing—just as, one day, y o u found y o u r s e l f simply d r i v i n gwithout thinking about how to do it. Later, one almost forgetsabout having learned to read, learned to drive, learned to draw. In order to attain this smooth integration in drawing, all five T h e global skill of drawingcomponent skills must be in place. Im happy to say that the fifthskill, the perception of the whole, or gestalt, is neither taught norlearned but instead seems to e m e r g e as a result of acquiring theother four skills. But of the first four, none can be omitted, just aslearning how to brake or steer cannot be omitted w h e n learningto drive. In the original book, I believe I explained sufficiently well thefirst two skills, the perception of edges and the p e r c e p t i o n ofspaces. T h e importance of sighting (the third skill of p e r c e i v i n g INTRODUCTION XIX
  18. 18. relationships) however, n e e d e d greater emphasis and clearer explanation, b e c a u s e students often tend to give up too quickly on this c o m p l i c a t e d skill. A n d the fourth skill, the perception of lights and shadows, also n e e d e d expanding. M o s t of the content changes for this new edition, therefore, are in the last chapters. A basic strategy for accessing R-mode In this edition, I again reiterate a basic strategy for gaining access at conscious level to R - m o d e , my term for the visual, perceptual"You have two brains: a left and a m o d e of the brain. I continue to believe that this strategy is prob- right. Modern brain scientists nowknow that your left brain is your ably my main contribution to educational aspects of the "right-verbal and rational brain; it thinks h e m i s p h e r e story" that began with R o g e r Sperrys celebratedserially and reduces its thoughts to scientific work. T h e strategy is stated as follows:numbers, letters, and words In order to gain access to the subdominant visual, perceptualYour right brain is your non-verbaland intuitive brain; it thinks in pat- R - m o d e of the brain, it is necessary to present the brain with a jobterns, or pictures, composed of that the verbal, analytic L - m o d e will turn down.whole things, and does not com- For most of us, L - m o d e t h i n k i n g seems easy, normal, andprehend reductions, either num- familiar (though perhaps not for m a n y children and dyslexicbers, letters, or words." individuals). T h e p e r v e r s e R - m o d e strategy, in contrast, mayFrom The Fabric of Mind, by the s e e m difficult and u n f a m i l i a r — e v e n "off-the-wall." It must beeminent scientist and neurosur-geon Richard Bergland. N e w York: learned in o p p o s i t i o n to the "natural" t e n d e n c y of the brain toViking Penguin, Inc., 1985, p. 1. favor L - m o d e because, in general, language dominates. By learn- i n g to control this t e n d e n c y for specific tasks, one gains access to powerful brain functions often obscured by language. A l l of the exercises in this book, therefore, are based on two o r g a n i z i n g principles and major aims. First, to teach the reader five basic c o m p o n e n t skills of d r a w i n g and, second, to provide conditions that facilitate m a k i n g cognitive shifts to R - m o d e , the thinking/seeing m o d e specialized for drawing. In short, in the process of learning to draw, one also learns to control (at least to s o m e d e g r e e ) the m o d e by w h i c h ones own brain handles information. Perhaps this explains in part w h y my book appeals to individuals from such diverse fields. Intuitively, t h e y see the link to other activities and the possibility of seeing things differently by learning to access R - m o d e at conscious level. xx INTRODUCTION
  19. 19. Color in drawingC h a p t e r E l e v e n , " D r a w i n g on the B e a u t y of C o l o r , " was a newchapter in the 1989 edition, written in response to many requestsfrom my readers. T h e chapter focuses on using c o l o r in d r a w -i n g — a fine transitional step toward painting. O v e r the pastdecade, my teaching staff and I have d e v e l o p e d a five-day inten-sive course on basic c o l o r theory, a course that is still a "work inprogress." I am still using the concepts in the chapter on color, soI have not revised it for this edition. I believe the logical progression for a person starting out inartistic expression should be as follows: From L i n e to V a l u e to C o l o r to Painting First, a person learns the basic skills of drawing, w h i c h p r o -vide k n o w l e d g e of line (learned through c o n t o u r d r a w i n g ofedges, spaces, and relationships) and knowledge of value (learnedthrough rendering lights and shadows). Skillful use of c o l o rrequires first of all the ability to perceive color as value. T h i s abil-ity is difficult, perhaps impossible, to acquire unless one haslearned to perceive the relationships of lights and shadowsthrough drawing. I hope that my chapter i n t r o d u c i n g c o l o r indrawing will provide an effective bridge for those w h o want toprogress from drawing to painting.HandwritingFinally, I am retaining the brief section on handwriting. In manycultures, w r i t i n g is r e g a r d e d as an art form. A m e r i c a n s oftendeplore their handwriting but are at a loss as to how to improve it.Handwriting, however, is a form of drawing and can be improved.I r e g r e t t o say that m a n y C a l i f o r n i a s c h o o l s are s t i l l u s i n ghandwriting-instructional methods that w e r e failing in 1989 andare still failing today. My suggestions in this regard appear in theAfterword. INTRODUCTION XXI
  20. 20. An empirical basis for my theory T h e u n d e r l y i n g t h e o r y of this revised edition remains the same: to explain in basic terms the relationship of d r a w i n g to visual, p e r c e p t u a l brain processes and to provide methods of accessing and c o n t r o l l i n g these processes. As a n u m b e r of scientists have noted, research on the human brain is c o m p l i c a t e d by the fact that the brain is struggling to understand itself. This three-pound organ is perhaps the only bit of matter in the universe—at least as far as we k n o w — t h a t is o b s e r v i n g itself, w o n d e r i n g about itself, t r y i n g to analyze itself, and attempting to gain better control of its o w n capabilities. T h i s paradoxical situation no doubt con- tributes—at least in part—to the deep mysteries that still remain, despite rapidly expanding scientific knowledge about the brain. O n e question scientists are studying intensely is where the two major thinking m o d e s are specifically located in the human brain and how the organization of modes can vary from individ- ual to individual. W h i l e the so-called location controversy c o n - tinues to engage scientists, along with myriad other areas of brain research, the existence in e v e r y brain of two fundamentally dif- ferent cognitive modes is no longer controversial. Corroborating research since Sperrys original work is overwhelming. Moreover, even in the midst of the argument about location, most scientists agree that for a majority of individuals, information-processing based primarily on linear, sequential data is mainly located in the left h e m i s p h e r e , w h i l e g l o b a l , p e r c e p t u a l data is m a i n l y processed in the right hemisphere. C l e a r l y , for educators like myself, the precise location of these m o d e s in the individual brain is not an important issue. W h a t is important is that incoming information can be handled in two fundamentally different ways and that the two modes can apparently w o r k together in a vast array of combinations. Since the late 1970s, I have used the terms L - m o d e and R - m o d e to try to avoid the location controversy. T h e terms are intended to differ- entiate the major m o d e s of cognition, regardless of where they are located in the individual brain. O v e r the past d e c a d e or so, a n e w interdisciplinary field ofXXII INTRODUCTION
  21. 21. brain-function study has b e c o m e formally k n o w n as cognitive In a conversation with his friend Andre Marchand, the French artistneuroscience. In addition to the traditional discipline of n e u r o l - Henri Matisse described theogy, cognitive neuroscience encompasses study of other higher process of passing perceptionscognitive processes such as language, memory, and perception. from one way of looking toC o m p u t e r scientists, linguists, neuroimaging scientists, cognitive another:psychologists, and neurobiologists are all contributing to a g r o w - "Do you know that a man has onlying understanding of how the human brain functions. one eye which sees and registers everything; this eye, like a superb Interest in "right brain, left brain" research has subsided camera which takes minute pic-somewhat among educators and the general public since R o g e r tures, very sharp, tiny—and withSperry first published his research findings. Nevertheless, the fact that picture man tells himself:of the profound a s y m m e t r y of human brain functions remains, This time I know the reality of things, and he is calm for abecoming ever more central, for e x a m p l e , a m o n g c o m p u t e r s c i - moment. Then, slowly superim-entists trying to emulate human mental processes. Facial recogni- posing itself on the picture,tion, a function ascribed to the right hemisphere, has been sought another eye makes its appearance,for decades and is still beyond the capabilities of most computers. invisibly, which makes an entirely different picture for him.Ray Kurzweil, in his recent book The Age of Spiritual Machines(Viking, 1999) contrasted human and c o m p u t e r capability in pat- "Then our man no longer seestern seeking (as in facial recognition) and sequential processing clearly, a struggle begins between the first and second eye, the fight is(as in calculation): fierce, finally the second eye has T h e h u m a n brain has a b o u t 100 b i l l i o n n e u r o n s . W i t h a n e s t i m a t e d the upper hand, takes over and a v e r a g e o f o n e t h o u s a n d c o n n e c t i o n s b e t w e e n e a c h n e u r o n and its thats the end of it. N o w it has command of the situation, the sec- n e i g h b o r s , w e h a v e a b o u t 100 t r i l l i o n c o n n e c t i o n s , e a c h c a p a b l e o f a ond eye can then continue its work simultaneous calculation. Thats rather massive parallel processing, alone and elaborate its own picture and o n e key to the strength of h u m a n t h i n k i n g . A p r o f o u n d w e a k n e s s , according to the laws of interior however, is the e x c r u c i a t i n g l y s l o w s p e e d of n e u r a l circuitry, o n l y 200 vision. This very special eye is found here," says Matisse, pointing c a l c u l a t i o n s p e r s e c o n d . F o r p r o b l e m s that benefit from m a s s i v e p a r - to his brain. allelism, such a neural-net-based pattern recognition, the h u m a n brain d o e s a g r e a t job. F o r p r o b l e m s that r e q u i r e e x t e n s i v e s e q u e n t i a l Marchand didnt mention which side of his brain Matisse pointed thinking, the h u m a n brain is o n l y m e d i o c r e , (p. 103) to. In 1979, I proposed that d r a w i n g required a cognitive shift to — J . FlamR-mode, now postulated to be a massively parallel m o d e of p r o - Matisse on Art, 1973cessing, and away from L - m o d e , postulated to be a sequentialprocessing mode. I had no hard evidence to support my proposal,only my e x p e r i e n c e as an artist and a teacher. O v e r the years, Ihave been criticized occasionally by various neuroscientists foroverstepping the boundaries of my o w n field—though not by INTRODUCTION XXIII
  22. 22. A recent article in an educational R o g e r Sperry, w h o b e l i e v e d that my application of his researchjournal summarizes neuroscien- was reasonable.tists objections to "brain-basededucation." W h a t kept me w o r k i n g at my "folk" theory (see the margin excerpt) was that, when put into practice, the results were inspir-"The fundamental problem with theright-brain versus left-brain claims ing. Students of all ages made significant gains in drawing abilitythat one finds in educational litera- and, by extension, in p e r c e p t u a l abilities, since drawing wellture is that they rely on our intu- d e p e n d s on s e e i n g well. D r a w i n g ability has always beenitions and folk theories about the regarded as difficult to acquire, and has nearly always been addi-brain, rather than on what brain tionally burdened by the notion that it is an extraordinary, not anscience is actually able to tell us.Our folk theories are too crude ordinary, skill. If my method of teaching enables people to gain aand imprecise to have any scien- skill they p r e v i o u s l y t h o u g h t closed off to them, is it the neuro-tific predictive or instructional l o g i c a l explanation that makes the m e t h o d work, or is it some-value. What modern brain science thing else that I may not be aware of?is telling us—and what brain-basededucators fail to appreciate—is I k n o w that it is not s i m p l y my style of t e a c h i n g that causesthat it makes no scientific sense to the m e t h o d to work, since the hundreds of teachers w h o havemap gross, unanalyzed behaviors reported equal success using my methods obviously have widelyand skills—reading, arithmetic,spatial reasoning—onto one brain differing t e a c h i n g styles. W o u l d the exercises work w i t h o u t thehemisphere or another." neurological rationale? Its possible, but it would be very difficult to p e r s u a d e p e o p l e to a c c e d e to such unlikely exercises asBut the author also states:"Whether or not [brain-based] u p s i d e - d o w n drawing without some reasonable explanation. Is it,educational practices should be then, just the fact of giving people a rationale—that any rationaleadopted must be determined on w o u l d do? Perhaps, but I have always been struck by the fact thatthe basis of the impact on student my e x p l a n a t i o n seems to make sense to p e o p l e at a subjectivelearning." level. T h e theory seems to fit their e x p e r i e n c e , and certainly the —John T. Bruer ideas derive from my own subjective experience with drawing. "In Search o f . . . Brain-Based Education," In each edition of this book I have made the following state- Phi Delta Kappan, May ment: 1999, p. 603 T h e t h e o r y and methods presented in my book have proven e m p i r i c a l l y successful. In short, the method works, regardless of the e x t e n t to w h i c h future s c i e n c e may e v e n t u a l l y determine exact location and confirm the degree of separation of brain func- tions in the two hemispheres. I h o p e that e v e n t u a l l y scholars using traditional research methods will help answer the many questions I have myself about this work. It does appear that recent research tends to corroborate my basic ideas. For example, new findings on the function of the huge bundle of nerve fibers connecting the two hemispheres, the xxiv INTRODUCTION
  23. 23. corpus callosum, indicate that the corpus callosum can inhibit thepassage of information from hemisphere to hemisphere when thetask requires noninterference from one or the other hemisphere. M e a n w h i l e , the work appears to bring a great deal of joy tomy students, whether or not we fully understand the u n d e r l y i n gprocess.A further complicationO n e further complication o f seeing needs mentioning. T h e eyesgather visual information by constantly scanning the e n v i r o n -ment. But visual data from "out there," gathered by sight, is notthe end of the story. At least part, and perhaps m u c h of what wesee is changed, interpreted, or c o n c e p t u a l i z e d in ways thatdepend on a persons training, mind-set, and past experiences. Wetend to see what we expect to see or what we decide we have seen.T h i s expectation or decision, however, often is not a c o n s c i o u sprocess. Instead, the brain frequently does the e x p e c t i n g and thedeciding, w i t h o u t our conscious awareness, and then alters orrearranges—or even simply disregards—the raw data of visionthat hits the retina. L e a r n i n g perception through d r a w i n g seems "The artist is the confidant ofto change this process and to allow a different, more direct kind of nature. Flowers carry on dialoguesseeing. T h e brains editing is s o m e h o w put on hold, thereby per- with him through the graceful bending of their stems and the har-mitting one to see more fully and perhaps more realistically. moniously tinted nuances of their T h i s e x p e r i e n c e is often m o v i n g and d e e p l y affecting. My blossoms. Every flower has a cor-students most frequent c o m m e n t s after learning to draw are dial word which nature directs towards him.""Life seems so much richer now" and "I didnt realize how m u c hthere is to see and how beautiful things are." T h i s new way of see- — Auguste Rodining may alone be reason enough to learn to draw. INTRODUCTION XXV
  24. 24. D RAWING is A CURIOUS PROCESS, so i n t e r t w i n e d with s e e - i n g that the t w o can hardly be separated. A b i l i t y to draw d e p e n d s on ability to see the way an artist sees, and this kind of seeing can marvelously enrich your life. In m a n y ways, t e a c h i n g d r a w i n g is s o m e w h a t like teaching s o m e o n e to ride a b i c y c l e . It is v e r y difficult to explain in words. In t e a c h i n g s o m e o n e to ride a b i c y c l e , y o u might say, "Well, you just get on, push the pedals, balance yourself, and off youll go." Of course, that doesnt explain it at all, and you are likely finally to say, "Ill get on and show y o u how. Watch and see how 1 do it." A n d so it is with drawing. M o s t art teachers and drawing text- book authors exhort beginners to "change their ways of looking at things" and to "learn how to see." T h e problem is that this differ- ent way of seeing is as hard to explain as how to balance a bicycle, and the t e a c h e r often ends by saying, in effect, " L o o k at these e x a m p l e s and just keep trying. If y o u practice a lot, eventually y o u may get it." W h i l e nearly e v e r y o n e learns to ride a bicycle, many individuals never solve the problems of drawing. To put it m o r e precisely, most p e o p l e never learn to see well e n o u g h to draw. Drawing as a magical ability B e c a u s e o n l y a few individuals seem to possess the ability to see and draw, artists are often regarded as persons with a rare G o d - given talent. To many people, the process of drawing seems mys- terious and somehow beyond human understanding. Artists themselves often do little to dispel the mystery. If you ask an artist (that is, s o m e o n e w h o draws well as a result of either l o n g training or c h a n c e d i s c o v e r y of the artists way of seeing), " H o w do y o u draw something so that it looks real—say a portrait or a landscape?" the artist is likely to reply, "Well, I just have a gift for it, I guess," or "I really dont know. I just start in and workFig. I - I . Bellowing Bison. Paleolithic things out as I go along," or "Well, I just look at the person (or thecave painting from Altamira, Spain.Drawing by Brevil. Prehistoric landscape) and I draw what I see." T h e last reply seems like aartists were probably thought to logical and straightforward answer. Yet, on reflection, it clearlyhave magic powers. T H E N E W D R A W I N G O N T H E R I G H T SIDE O F T H E BRAIN
  25. 25. doesnt explain the process at all, and the sense that the skill of Roger N. Shepard, professor of psychology at Stanford University,drawing is a vaguely magical ability persists (Figure I - I ) . recently described his personal W h i l e this attitude of wonder at artistic skill causes p e o p l e to mode of creative thought duringappreciate artists and their work, it does little to e n c o u r a g e indi- which research ideas emerged inviduals to try to learn to draw, and it doesnt h e l p teachers his mind as unverbalized, essen- tially complete, long-sought solu-explain to students the process of drawing. Often, in fact, p e o p l e tions to problems.even feel that they shouldnt take a d r a w i n g course because they "That in all of these sudden illumi-dont know already h o w to draw. T h i s is like d e c i d i n g that y o u nations my ideas took shape in ashouldnt take a French class b e c a u s e y o u dont already speak primarily visual-spatial form with-French, or that y o u shouldnt sign up for a c o u r s e in c a r p e n t r y out, so far as I can introspect, anybecause you dont know how to build a house. verbal intervention is in accor- dance with what has always been my preferred mode of thinking....Drawing as a learnable, teachable skill Many of my happiest hours have since childhood been spentYou will soon discover that d r a w i n g is a skill that can be learned absorbed in drawing, in tinkering,by e v e r y normal person with average eyesight and average e y e - or in exercises of purely mentalhand coordination—with sufficient ability, for example, to thread visualization."a needle or catch a baseball. Contrary to popular opinion, manual — Roger N . Shepardskill is not a primary factor in drawing. If y o u r h a n d w r i t i n g is Visual Learning, Thinking,readable, or if you can print legibly, y o u have ample dexterity to and Communication, 1978draw well. "Learning to draw is really a We need say no more here about hands, but about eyes we matter of learning to see—to seecannot say enough. L e a r n i n g to draw is m o r e than l e a r n i n g the correctly—and that means a goodskill itself; by studying this book you will learn how to see. T h a t is, deal more than merely lookingyou will learn how to process visual information in the special with the eye."way used by artists. T h a t way is different from the way you usually — Kimon Nicolaidesprocess visual information and seems to require that you use your The Natural Way to Draw, 1941brain in a different way than you ordinarily use it. You will be learning, therefore, s o m e t h i n g about h o w y o u rbrain handles visual information. R e c e n t research has b e g u n tothrow new scientific light on that marvel of capability and c o m -plexity, the human brain. A n d one of the things we are learning ishow the special properties of o u r brains enable us to draw p i c -tures of our perceptions. DRAWING AND THE ART OF BICYCLE RIDING 3
  26. 26. Gertrude Stein asked the French Drawing and seeing artist Henri Matisse whether, when eating a tomato, he looked at it the T h e magical m y s t e r y of d r a w i n g ability seems to be, in part at way an artist would. Matisse least, an ability to make a shift in brain state to a different mode of replied: s e e i n g / p e r c e i v i n g . When you see in the special way in which experi-"No, when I eat a tomato I look at it enced artists see, then you can draw. T h i s is not to say that the draw- the way anyone else would. But ings of great artists such as L e o n a r d o da V i n c i or Rembrandt are when I paint a tomato, then I see it differently." not still w o n d r o u s because we may know something about the cerebral process that w e n t into their creation. Indeed, scientific — Gertrude Stein Picasso, 1938 research makes master drawings seem even more remarkable because they seem to cause a viewer to shift to the artists mode of"The painter draws with his eyes, perceiving. But the basic skill of d r a w i n g is also accessible to not with his hands. Whatever he e v e r y o n e who can learn to make the shift to the artists mode and sees, if he sees it clear, he can put see in the artists way. down. T h e putting of it down requires, perhaps, much care and labor, but no more muscular agility The artists way of seeing: A twofold process than it takes for him to write his name. Seeing clear is the important D r a w i n g is not really very difficult. S e e i n g is the problem, or, to thing." be more specific, shifting to a particular way of seeing. You may — Maurice Grosser not b e l i e v e me at this moment. You may feel that you are seeing The Painters Eye, 1951 things just fine and that its the drawing that is hard. But the oppo- site is true, and the exercises in this book are designed to help you"It is in order to really see, to see make the mental shift and gain a twofold advantage. First, to open ever deeper, ever more intensely, access by conscious volition to the visual, perceptual mode of think- hence to be fully aware and alive, ing in order to experience a focus in your awareness, and second, that I draw what the Chinese call T h e Ten Thousand Things to see things in a different way. Both will enable you to draw well. around me. Drawing is the disci- M a n y artists have spoken of seeing things differently while pline by which I constantly redis- drawing and have often mentioned that drawing puts them into a cover the world. s o m e w h a t altered state of awareness. In that different subjective"I have learned that what I have not state, artists speak of feeling transported, "at one with the work," drawn, I have never really seen, able to grasp relationships that they ordinarily cannot grasp. and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extra- Awareness of the passage of time fades away and words recede ordinary it is, sheer miracle." from consciousness. Artists say that they feel alert and aware yet — Frederick Franck are relaxed and free of anxiety, e x p e r i e n c i n g a pleasurable, The Zen of Seeing, 1973 almost mystical activation of the mind. 4 T H E N E W D R A W I N G O N T H E R I G H T SIDE O F T H E BRAIN
  27. 27. "If a certain kind of activity, such asDrawing attention to states of consciousness painting, becomes the habitualT h e slightly altered consciousness state of f e e l i n g transported, mode of expression, it may follow that taking up the painting materi-which most artists experience while drawing, painting, sculpting, als and beginning work with themor doing any kind of art work, is a state p r o b a b l y not altogether will act suggestively and sounfamiliar to you. You may have observed in y o u r s e l f slight shifts presently evoke a flight into thein your state of consciousness while engaged in m u c h more ordi- higher state."nary activities than artwork. — Robert Henri For example, most p e o p l e are aware that they o c c a s i o n a l l y The Art Spirit, 1923slip from ordinary waking consciousness into the slightly alteredstate of daydreaming. As another example, p e o p l e often say thatreading takes them "out of themselves." A n d other kinds of activ-ities which apparently p r o d u c e a shift in consciousness state aremeditation, jogging, needlework, typing, listening to music, and,of course, drawing itself. Also, I believe that driving on the freeway probably induces aslightly different subjective state that is similar to the d r a w i n gstate. After all, in freeway d r i v i n g we deal w i t h visual images,keeping track of relational, spatial information, sensing c o m p l e xcomponents of the overall traffic configuration. M a n y people findthat they do a lot of creative thinking w h i l e driving, often losingtrack of time and e x p e r i e n c i n g a pleasurable sense of f r e e d o mfrom anxiety. T h e s e mental operations may activate the sameparts of the brain used in drawing. Of course, if d r i v i n g c o n d i -tions are difficult, if we are late or if s o m e o n e sharing the ridetalks with us, the shift to the alternative state doesnt occur. T h ereasons for this well take up in C h a p t e r T h r e e . T h e key to learning to draw, therefore, is to set up conditionsthat cause you to make a mental shift to a different mode of infor-mation processing—the slightly altered state of consciousness—that enables y o u to see well. In this d r a w i n g m o d e , y o u w i l l beable to draw y o u r p e r c e p t i o n s even t h o u g h y o u may never havestudied drawing. O n c e the d r a w i n g m o d e is familiar to y o u , y o uwill be able to consciously control the mental shift. DRAWING AND THE ART OF BICYCLE RIDING 5
  28. 28. My students often report that Drawing on your creative self learning to draw makes them feel more creative. Obviously, many I see you as an individual with creative potential for expressing roads lead to creative endeavor: y o u r s e l f through drawing. My aim is to provide the means for Drawing is only one route. Howard releasing that potential, for gaining access at a conscious level to Gardner, Harvard professor of psychology and education, refers y o u r inventive, intuitive, imaginative powers that may have been to this linkage: largely untapped by our verbal, technological culture and educa-"By a curious twist, the words art tional system. I am going to teach you how to draw, but drawing is and creativity have become closely only the means, not the end. D r a w i n g will tap the special abilities linked in our society." that are right for drawing. By learning to draw you will learn to From Gardners book Creating see differently and, as the artist Rodin lyrically states, to become a Minds, 1993. confidant of the natural world, to awaken y o u r eye to the lovely language of forms, to express yourself in that language. In drawing, you will delve deeply into a part of your mind too often obscured by endless details of daily life. From this experi- e n c e y o u will d e v e l o p y o u r ability to perceive things freshly in their totality, to see u n d e r l y i n g patterns and possibilities for new combinations. C r e a t i v e solutions to problems, whether personal or professional, will be accessible through new modes of thinking and new ways of using the power of your whole brain. D r a w i n g , pleasurable and rewarding though it is, is but a key to o p e n the d o o r to other goals. My hope is that Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain will help y o u expand your powers as an individual through increased awareness of your own mind and its workings. T h e multiple effects of the exercises in this book are intended to enhance y o u r confidence in decision making and problem solving. T h e potential force of the creative, imaginative human brain seems almost limitless. Drawing may help you come to know this p o w e r and make it known to others. T h r o u g h draw- ing, y o u are made visible. T h e G e r m a n artist A l b r e c h t Durer said, "From this, the treasure secretly gathered in your heart will Samuel Goldwyn once said: become evident through your creative work.""Dont pay any attention to the Keeping the real goal in mind, let us begin to fashion the key. critics. Dont even ignore them." Quoted in Being Digital by NicolasNegroponte, 1995. 6 T H E N E W D R A W I N G O N T H E R I G H T SIDE O F T H E BRAIN
  29. 29. "To be shaken out of the ruts ofMy approach: A path to creativity ordinary perception, to be shownT h e exercises and instructions in this book have been designed for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as theyspecifically for people who cannot draw at all, w h o may feel that appear to an animal obsessed withthey have little or no talent for drawing, and who may feel doubt- words and notions, but as they areful that they could ever learn to draw—but who think they might apprehended, directly and uncon-like to learn. T h e approach of this book is different from other ditionally, by Mind at Large—this is an experience of inestimabledrawing instruction books in that the exercises are aimed at value to everyone."opening access to skills you already have but that are simply waitingto be released. — Aldous Huxley The Doors of Perception, Creative persons from fields other than art w h o want to get 1954their working skills u n d e r better control and learn to o v e r c o m eblocks to creativity will benefit from working with the techniquespresented here. T e a c h e r s and parents will find the t h e o r y andexercises useful in helping children to develop their creative abil-ities. At the end of the book, I have supplied a brief postscript thatoffers some general suggestions for adapting my methods andmaterials to children. A second postscript is addressed to art stu-dents. T h i s book is based on the five-day workshop that I have beenteaching for about fifteen years to individuals of w i d e l y rangingages and occupations. N e a r l y all of the students begin the coursewith very few drawing skills and with high a n x i e t y about theirpotential drawing ability. Almost without exception, the studentsachieve a high level of skill in drawing and gain confidence to goon d e v e l o p i n g their expressive d r a w i n g skills in further artcourses or by practice on their own. An intriguing aspect of the often-remarkable gains most stu-dents achieve is the rapid rate of improvement in d r a w i n g skills.Its my belief that if persons untrained in art can learn to makethe shift to the artists m o d e of s e e i n g — t h a t is, the r i g h t - h e m i -sphere m o d e — t h o s e individuals are then able to draw w i t h o u tfurther instruction. To put it another way, you already know howto draw, but old habits of seeing interfere with that ability andblock it. T h e exercises in this book are designed to remove theinterference and unblock the ability. DRAWING AND THE ART OF BICYCLE RIDING 7
  30. 30. "When the artist is alive in any per- W h i l e you may have no interest whatever in becoming a full- son, whatever his kind of work may time w o r k i n g artist, the exercises will provide insights into the be, he becomes an inventive, searching, daring, self-expressive way your mind works, or your two minds work—singly, coopera- creature. He becomes interesting tively, one against the other. A n d , as many of my students have to other people. He disturbs, told me, their lives seem richer because they are seeing better andupsets, enlightens, and opens ways seeing more. Its helpful to r e m e m b e r that we dont teach reading for a better understanding. Wherethose who are not artists are trying and w r i t i n g to p r o d u c e only poets and writers, but rather toto close the book, he opens it and improve thinking. shows there are still more pagespossible." Realism as a means to an end — Robert Henri The Art Spirit, 1923 Why faces? A n u m b e r of the exercises and instructional sequences in this book are designed to enable you to draw recognizable portraits. L e t me explain why I think portrait drawing is useful as a subject for beginners in art. B r o a d l y speaking, e x c e p t for the degree of complexity, all drawing is the same. O n e drawing task is no harder than any other. T h e same skills and ways of seeing are involved in d r a w i n g still-life setups, landscapes, the figure, random objects, even imaginary subjects, and portrait drawing. Its all the same thing: Y o u see whats out there (imaginary subjects are "seen" in the minds eye) and you draw what you see. W h y , then, have I selected portrait drawing for some of the exercises? For three reasons. First, beginning students of drawing often think that drawing human faces is the hardest of all kinds of drawing. T h u s , w h e n students see that they can draw portraits, they feel confident and their confidence enhances progress. A second, more important, reason is that the right hemisphere of the human brain is specialized for recognition of faces. Since the right brain is the one we will be trying to gain access to, it makes sense to choose a subject that the right brain is used to working with. A n d third, faces are fascinating! O n c e you have drawn a per- son, you will really have seen that individuals face. As one of my students said, "I dont think I ever actually looked at anyones face before I started drawing. N o w , the oddest thing is that everyone looks beautiful to me." 8 T H E N E W D R A W I N G O N T H E R I G H T SIDE O F T H E BRAIN
  31. 31. " . . . at the time when you spoke ofSumming up my becoming a painter, I thought itI have described to you the basic p r e m i s e of this b o o k — t h a t very impractical and would not hear of it. What made me stopdrawing is a teachable, learnable skill that can provide a twofold doubting was reading a clear bookadvantage. By gaining access to the part of y o u r mind that works on perspective, Cassanges Guide toin a style conducive to creative, intuitive thought, you will learn a the ABC of Drawing: and a weekfundamental skill of the visual arts: h o w to put d o w n on p a p e r later I drew the interior of awhat y o u see in front of y o u r eyes. S e c o n d , t h r o u g h l e a r n i n g to kitchen with stove, chair, table and window—in their places and ondraw by the m e t h o d presented in this book, y o u w i l l e n h a n c e their legs—whereas before it hadyour ability to think more creatively in other areas of your life. seemed to me that getting depth H o w far y o u go with these skills after y o u c o m p l e t e the and the right perspective into a drawing was witchcraft or purecourse will d e p e n d on other traits such as e n e r g y and curiosity. chance."But first things first! T h e potential is there. Its sometimes n e c e s - — Vincent Van Gogh,sary to remind ourselves that Shakespeare at some point learned in a letter to his brother,to write a line of prose, Beethoven learned the musical scales, and Theo, who had suggestedas you see in the margin quotation, V i n c e n t Van G o g h learned that Vincent become ahow to draw. painter. Letter 184, p. 331. DRAWING AND THE ART OF BICYCLE RIDING 9
  32. 32. O VER THE YEARS OF TEACHING, I have e x p e r i m e n t e d w i t h v a r i o u s p r o g r e s s i o n s , s e q u e n c e s , and c o m b - nations of exercises. T h e s e q u e n c e set out in this book has proved to be the most effective in terms of student progress. W e l l take the first step, the all-important preinstruction draw- ings, in this chapter. W h e n y o u begin the d r a w i n g exercises in C h a p t e r Four, y o u l l have some b a c k g r o u n d in the u n d e r l y i n g theory, how the exercises have been set up, and w h y they work. T h e sequence is designed to enhance success at every step of the way and to pro- v i d e access to a new m o d e of information processing with as lit- tle upset to the old mode as possible. Therefore, I ask you to read the chapters in the order presented and to do the exercises as they appear. I have limited the r e c o m m e n d e d exercises to a minimum number, but if time permits, do more drawings than are sug- gested: Seek y o u r o w n subjects and devise your o w n exercises. T h e m o r e practice y o u provide for yourself, the faster y o u will progress. To this end, in addition to the exercises that appear in the text, s u p p l e m e n t a r y exercises often appear in the margin. D o i n g these exercises will reinforce both y o u r skills and your confidence. For most of the exercises, I r e c o m m e n d that you read through all of the directions before you start drawing and, where directed, v i e w the examples of students drawings before begin- ning. K e e p all of y o u r drawings together in a folder or large envelope, so that by the time y o u v e c o m e to the end of the book y o u can review your own progress. Definitions of terms A glossary of terms appears at the end of the book. Certain terms are defined fairly extensively in the text, and the glossary c o n - tains other terms not so extensively defined. Words that are c o m - m o n l y used in e v e r y d a y language, such as "value" and "composition," have very specific, and often different, meanings in art terminology. I suggest that you glance through the glossary before starting to read the chapters.12 T H E N E W D R A W I N G O N T H E R I G H T SIDE O F T H E BRAIN
  33. 33. Drawing materialsT h e materials list for the first two editions was v e r y simple: someinexpensive bond t y p i n g paper or a pad of inexpensive d r a w i n gpaper, a pencil, and an eraser. I m e n t i o n e d that a # 4 B d r a w i n gpencil is pleasant to use, as the lead is smooth and makes a clear,dark line, but an ordinary number 2 writing pencil is nearly asgood. For this edition, y o u still need these basic materials, but Iwish to suggest a few additional aids that will help y o u learn todraw quickly. • You will need a piece of clear plastic, about 8" x 10" and about 1/16" thick. A piece of glass is fine, but the edges must be taped. Use a permanent marker to draw two crosshairs on the plastic, a horizontal line and a vertical line crossing at the center of the plane. (See the sketch in the margin.) • Also, you will need two "viewfinders," made of black card- board about 8" x 10". From one, cut a rectangular opening of 4 1/4" x 5 1/4" and from the other, cut out a larger opening of 6" x 7 5/8". See Figure 2-1. • A nonpermanent black felt-tip marker • T w o clips to fasten your viewfinders to the plastic picture plane • A "graphite stick," # 4 B , available at most art supply stores • Some masking tape • A pencil sharpener—a small, hand-held sharpener is fine • An eraser, such a "Pink Pearl" or a white plastic eraserG a t h e r i n g these materials requires a bit of effort, but they w i l ltruly help you to learn rapidly. You can buy them at any art mate-rials or crafts store. My staff of teachers and I no longer attemptto teach our students without using viewfinders and the plasticpicture plane, and they will help you just as much. Because theseitems are so essential to students understanding of the basicnature of drawing, for years now we have put t o g e t h e r — b yhand!—portfolios containing the special learning tools that wehave developed for our five-day intensive workshops. T h e portfo-lios also contained all of the necessary d r a w i n g materials and alightweight drawing board. N o w I have made our Portfolio avail- T H E DRAWING EXERCISES: O N E STEP AT A T I M E
  34. 34. Construct a viewfinder as follows: able for purchase. It includes as w e l l a t w o - h o u r instructional1. Take a sheet of paper or use thin video of the lessons in this book.cardboard of the same size as the If y o u are interested in purchasing a Portfolio, y o u will findpaper you use for drawing. T h e an order slip at the end of the book, or y o u can contact my w e b -viewfinder must be the same for-mat, that is, the same proportional site at But the few items listed above will beshape, as the paper you are using sufficient if y o u would rather put together your own set of mate-to draw on. rials.2. Draw diagonal lines from oppo-site corners, crossing in the center. Pre-instruction drawings: A valuable record of yourIn the center of the paper, draw asmall rectangle by connecting hor- art skillsizontal and vertical lines at points N o w , lets get started. First, y o u need to make a record of youron the diagonals. T h e rectangleshould be about I x I 1/4". (See Fig- present d r a w i n g skills. T h i s is important! You dont want to missure 2-1.) Constructed this way, the the pleasure of h a v i n g a real m e m e n t o of y o u r starting point toinner rectangle has the same pro- c o m p a r e with y o u r later drawings. Im fully aware how difficultportion of length to width as the this is, but just do it! As the great D u t c h artist Vincent Van G o g houter edges of the paper. wrote (in a letter to his brother, T h e o ) :3. N e x t , cut the small rectangle out "Just dash something down if you see a blank canvas staring atof the center with scissors. Holdthe paper up and compare the y o u with a certain imbecility. You do not know how paralyzing itshape of the small opening with the is, that staring of a blank canvas which says to a painter, You dontshape of the whole format. You can know a n y t h i n g "see that the two shapes are the Soon, y o u will "know something," I promise. Just gear y o u r -same, and only the size is different.This perceptual aid is called a self up and do these drawings. Later, youll be very happy thatviewfinder. It will help you to per- you did. T h e drawings have proved to be invaluable in aiding stu-ceive negative spaces by establish- dents to see and recognize their o w n progress. A kind of amnesiaing an edge to the space around seems to set in as d r a w i n g skills improve. Students forget whatforms. their drawing was like before instruction. M o r e o v e r the degree of criticism keeps p a c e w i t h progress. E v e n after considerable i m p r o v e m e n t , students are sometimes critical of their latest d r a w i n g because its "not as good as da Vincis." T h e before draw- ings provide a realistic gauge of progress. After you do the draw- ings, put them away and we will look at them again later on in the light of your newly acquired skills.Fig. 2-1. T H E N E W D R A W I N G O N T H E R I G H T SIDE O F T H E BRAIN 14