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How Right Brain Drawing Really Works
How Right Brain Drawing Really Works

The scientific theory that underlies it was later refuted, but the method itself may prove useful.

How Right Brain Drawing Really Works and Is It Worth Doing
How Right Brain Drawing Really Works and Is It Worth Doing

Where did the idea of right hemispheric drawing come from?

In the early 1960s, the American neuropsychologist Roger Sperry studied R. W. Sperry. The great cerebral commissure / Scientific American work of the cerebral hemispheres. The scientist conducted research with animals and looked for ways to help patients with epilepsy. Sperry noticed that when the corpus callosum is dissected, the connection between its hemispheres is lost in the brain. The researcher concluded that each of them can work in isolation, like an independent brain.

In 1979 Betty Edwards, Ph. D. and art teacher, published the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which is published in Russian under the title "Discover the Artist in You". In it, the author proposed a new method of teaching drawing - using the right hemisphere. She interpreted Sperry's findings in her own way and concluded that the cerebral hemispheres have different functions: the left one is responsible for rational thinking and logic, the right one is for intuition and creativity.

According to Edwards, classical teaching of drawing and painting involves the left, logical, hemisphere. With this approach, a person studies composition and proportions, sees in any object that he draws, first of all, a set of lines and geometric shapes, and not a whole image. Many people find it difficult, they concentrate too much on technique and rules, they cannot relax and create for their pleasure, they are afraid to draw. This means that they need to "turn off" their left hemisphere and draw only with the right hemisphere - intuitively, easily and freely, as children do.

What is right hemispheric drawing for?

According to the founder of the method Betty Edwards and teachers of right hemisphere drawing, this approach helps:

  • deal with fears and creative blocks;
  • enjoy creativity;
  • relax;
  • stop criticizing yourself and focus on the flaws of your drawings;
  • develop fine motor skills and imagination;
  • try something new, have an interesting time and look at the drawing process from a different angle;
  • increase self-esteem, since drawing no longer seems so difficult and the person feels more confident.

What Science Says About Right Brain Drawing

Now the idea that in the left hemisphere we have "hiding" logic, and in the right - creativity, is considered a myth. Research shows that creativity and lateral thinking affect A. K. Lindel. Lateral thinkers are not so laterally minded: Hemispheric asymmetry, interaction, and creativity / Laterality both hemispheres. When performing creative tasks, H. Petsche's electrical activity increases. Approaches to verbal, visual and musical creativity by EEG coherence analysis / International Journal of Psychophysiology in various parts of the brain, and the exchange of impulses between the hemispheres becomes more intense.

In creative people, including those who are professionally engaged in creativity, the right hemisphere is not more developed, but they are better developed; connections and interactions between hemispheres.

In addition, in the course of a small experiment, it turned out that if you use one of the most popular techniques of the right hemisphere technique and draw upside down, then the drawing does not turn out to be more accurate or professional than usual, but rather the opposite.

That is, the very idea that one can turn on and off one or another hemisphere and, thanks to this, draw better or worse, with more or less pleasure, cannot be considered scientific. And talking about drawing with the help of the right hemisphere is absolutely incorrect.

How to Practice Right Brain Drawing

Edwards writes in his books that the main task is to switch from "L-mode" to "P-mode". That is, to silence the rational left hemisphere and include only the intuitive and creative right hemisphere in the work. Here are some basic exercises and techniques she suggests doing this.

  • Go beyond the boundaries of the sheet. For example, put paper on a newspaper or drawing paper, take a brush or pencil and start painting over the sheet freely, without fear of going over the edges.
  • Draw with both hands. That is, to do everything the same, only to paint over the sheet at the same time with the right and left hand.
  • Draw upside down. To do this, you need to take any image, turn it over and repeat it upside down.
  • Draw along the contours. In this case, you need to transfer the contours of the image or object to the paper, without looking at the drawing, until it is finished. One of the options for such an exercise is the "viewfinder". For him, you need to make a "screen" from a thick film or transparent plastic, put this screen on the object that you want to depict, and outline the contours with a marker. Then you can transfer the same outline to paper.
  • Draw for speed. In this case, a limited time is allocated for creating a drawing or performing an exercise, and a timer is used for control.

Also, those who want to master right-brain drawing are recommended to draw with their fingers, not a brush or pencil, and include relaxing music in the background. Other techniques can be found in the book "Discover the artist in yourself."

True, fans and teachers of this method believe that right-brain drawing is not just a set of exercises, but rather the absence of any techniques and rules. The point is to just draw for your pleasure, using any tools, in any manner, not to get hung up on how “right” is, and enjoy the process.

For example, you want to draw a person. In the classic approach, you will most likely first build the face and shape, outline the correct proportions, sketch, then add volume, color, shadows, details, and so on.

And if you, say, begin to draw without building, start not with the head, but with the shoes, immediately take up the paints, bypassing the pencil sketch - this way of drawing can be considered right-brain.

Does right-brain technique help you draw better?

Betty Edwards' method has nothing to do with the peculiarities of the work of the right hemisphere of the brain. But this does not mean that the approach is bad and not worthy of attention. People who have worked with the book "Discover the Artist in You" and practice right-brain drawing say they like this method. It helps you relax, enjoy the process, quickly create a simple drawing and enjoy your success.

On his website, Edwards posts Before and after / Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain®, Inc. the results of the participants in her short workshop, and these results, I must say, are impressive. True, if you read the curriculum, it becomes clear that Betty Edwards, among other things, touches upon quite traditional aspects of drawing. For example, it talks about the proportions of a human head, about light and shadow. Although this, of course, contradicts the very idea of illogical, intuitive and "naive" drawing.

It turns out that Edwards exercises do not switch anything, but they work as a small psychological trick - they allow you to tune in to creativity, muffle the voice of the inner critic and give you the freedom to draw just for your joy. And combining all of this with active practice and some classical theory may well improve artistic skills.

Is it worth trying right-brain drawing

This approach should not be viewed as a way to learn how to paint from scratch or to become an artist. Anyone who wants to draw professionally cannot do without studying such "boring" and "left-brain" things as anatomy, geometry, perspective, color theory.

Likewise, do not think that right-brain drawing really changes something in the brain at the biological level and helps to draw in a fundamentally different way.

But if you treat the technique of right hemispheric drawing as a way to liberate yourself, enter a state of flow, remove the creative block, practice and have a good time, then you can try.