Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

SART*2090 Drawing

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Betty Edwards firstly identifies two sides of the brain and explains their functions. The left
hemisphere controls the right side of the body and the right side of the brain controls the left side of the
body. She explains that each side controls different aspects of human capabilities which are connected
by the corpus callosum. In split-brain experiments, scientists have been able to distinguish which half
of the brain primarily controls things such as language or spacial reasoning. Edwards makes that point
that each side of the brain has a different consciousness showed in split-brain patients, and both process
information differently. She also examines historical biases in favoring right-handedness and negative
connotations held with being left-handed.
Betty Edwards points out that when it comes to drawing, the process of learning can become a
conflict. She then continues to identify methods for learning to draw which help stop the left side of the
brain from dominating and causing problems like drawing something by the characteristics we know
the object has rather than what it actually looks like. One method is paying closer attention to negative
space. She uses the example of a chair that at a certain angle, will not make visual sense if we for
example make all the legs the same length (as we know they are). Another method Betty Edwards
recommends is having a basic unit measure in the object that can help make the rest of it proportionate.
This can also help in improving composition and avoid starting a drawing that is too big or too small
for the sheet of paper. The Natural Way to Draw
Kimon Nicolaides starts by proposing that in order to understand something, we need to be
aware of how our senses interact with it. He states that we see through our eyes, not with them. He also
believes that it is with touch that we largely base our understanding of an object. He then continues to
present three different drawing exercises: contour drawing, gesture drawing, and cross contours.
The first is contour drawing, in which you draw the contours of a figure or object without
looking at the paper. You start by placing your pencil on the paper, fixing your eyes on a point on the
object, then slowly move both along the contours. Nicolaides explains that it is important for the eye
and pencil to follow the same pace. He also notes that if the contour comes to an end, simply begin at a
new starting point and continue. He emphasizes that the drawing does not have to be proportionate
because it is not a finished piece, but rather, it is an experience.
The second drawing exercise is gesture drawing. For a gesture drawing, the artist must draw
quickly without lifting the pencil off the paper while a model is in an action pose for a minute or less.
Kimon Nicolaides stresses that you should be drawing what the figure or object is doing rather than
what is looks like. He suggests not to follow the edges of the subject. The gesture drawing should be a
response to the gesture, and often looks like scribbling.
The final exercise is called cross contours, where by contours are created not by the outside
edge of the figure but by the line made by one side of the body to the other. Similar in the rules for
contour drawing, one can fix their eyes on one point on the outside edge, then move the contour into
the body and even back out. A cross contour can begin or end anywhere on the body. Nicolaides also
mentions that it is helpful to draw in horizontal and vertical contours.