Upside Down

As I was searching through my sketchbooks this morning, I found three pencil drawings labelled Upside Drawing #1, #2  and #3.  They were exercises out of Betty Edwards’ book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, subtitled A Course in Enhancing Creativity and Artistic Confidence.   Edwards answers the commonly heard refrain, I can’t draw anything, with techniques for doing just that.  The book includes some remarkable before and after drawings by her students to support her view that Yes, you can.  Part of the premise of the book is that the left side of the brain … the logical side … interferes with the innate ability of the right side to create.   It does this by injecting its view of what things should look like into a process that ought to be based on just what we see.  The book therefore includes a number of exercises to train us to let the right brain do the work by confounding that pesky left brain.  These include learning to draw the edges and contours around objects rather than the objects themselves.

Exercises to do this include drawing with a screen between the artist and the drawing (if the left brain can’t see the drawing, it can’t interfere), drawing the spaces around the object instead of the object (since the left brain has no opinion on those) … and, yes … drawing Upside Down where both the image being copied and the drawing are inverted.   I suspect the poor logical brain thinks, This is just a dumb idea, so it checks out of the process.   On page 52 of Drawing, the reader gets to try to execute Pablo Picasso’s line drawing, Portrait of Igor Stravinsky … that’s my attempt at the top of the post.   I will tell you, figure drawing is not my greatest strength but it’s a testament to Edwards’ approach that when viewed side by side with the original … and right side up … mine’s a pretty good likeness (yeah … I missed his pocket).

So, if you’ve always wanted to draw … and always say, I can’t … have I got a book for you.  Or you can read about it … and find out about workshops … here … on Betty Edwards’ website.

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2 Comments on “Upside Down”

  1. Oh snap! That’s friggen AWESOME, Bud! Wow. Color me impressed!

  2. Used this as an exercise in my Human Development Classes. The brain is such a wonderful work of the creator’s art. Thank you for this memory.

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