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A revised edition of the classic drawing book that has sold more than 1.7 million copies in the United States alone. Translated into more than seventeen languages, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the worlds most widely used drawing instruction book. Whether you are drawing as a professional artist, as an artist in training, or as a hobby, this book will give you greater confidence in your ability and deepen your artistic perception, as well as foster a new appreciation of the world around you. This revised/updated fourth edition includes: a new preface and introduction crucial updates based on recent research on the brains plasticity and the enormous value of learning new skills/ utilizing the right hemisphere of the brain new focus on how the ability to draw on the strengths of the right hemisphere can serve as an antidote to the increasing left-brain emphasis in American life-the worship of all that is linear, analytic, digital, etc. an informative section that addresses recent research linking early childhood «scribbling» to later language development and the importance of parental encouragement of this activity and new reproductions of master drawings throughout A life-changing book, this fully revised and updated edition of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is destined to inspire generations of readers to come.
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This is great. Publisher's epub. Illustrations, front matter, everything's there.
20 September 2016 (05:36) 

Sie können die Buchrezension schreiben oder über Ihre Erfahrung berichten. Ihre Meinung über das gelesene Buch ist interessant für andere Leser. Unabhängig davon, ob Sie das Buch mögen oder nicht, Ihre ehrliche und ausführliche Beschreibung kann anderen Leuten beim Suche der Bücher helfen.


The Definitive, 4th Edition

Tarcher/Penguin, a member of Penguin Group (USA), New York


				Published by the Penguin Group

				Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA • Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd) • Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi–110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

				Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

				Copyright © 1979, 1989, 1999, 2012 by Betty Edwards

				All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

				Published simultaneously in Canada

				Most Tarcher/Penguin books are available at special quantity discounts for bulk purchase 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 Penguin Group (USA) Inc. Special Markets, 375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014.

				Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

				Edwards, Betty, date.

				 Drawing on the right side of the brain / Betty Edwards. —Definitive, 4th ed.

				 p. cm.

				;  Rev. and expanded ed. of: New drawing on the right side of the brain. 1999.

				 1. Drawing —Technique. 2. Visual perception. 3. Cerebral dominance. I. Edwards, Betty. New drawing on the right side of the brain. II. Title.

				 NC730.E34 2012 2012001232


				ISBN 978-1-101-56180-5

				While the author has made every effort to provide accurate telephone numbers and Internet addresses at the time of publication, neither the publisher nor the author assumes any responsibility for errors, or for changes that occur after publication. Further, the publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.


				To my granddaughters, who have taken to drawing the way fish take to swimming and birds to flying, simply by sometimes sitting in on their Dad’s drawing workshops.

				Dear Sophie and Francesca,

				this book is for you,

				with thanks for all the joy

				you have brought into my world.

				Self-portrait by Francesca Bomeisler, July 29, 2010, when she was 8.

				Self-portrait by Sophie Bomeisler, July 29, 2011, when she was 11.




				Chapter 1 	Drawing and the Art of Bicycle Riding

				Chapter 2 	First Steps in Drawing

				Chapter 3 	Your Brain, the Right and Left of It

				Chapter 4	Crossing Over from Left to Right

				Chapter 5 	Drawing on Your Childhood Artistry

				Chapter 6 	Perceiving Edges

				Chapter 7 	Perceiving Spaces

				Chapter 8 	Perceiving Relationships

				Chapter 9 	Drawing a Profile Portrait

				Chapter 10	Perceiving Lights, Shadows, and the Gestalt

				Chapter 11 	Using Your New Perceptual Skills for Creative Problem Solving

				Chapter 12 	Drawing on the Artist in You




					Portfolio Components

					Portfolio and DVD Ordering


I shall be forever grateful to Dr. Roger W. Sperry (1913–1994), neuropsychologist, neurobiologist, and Nobel laureate, for his generosity and kindness in discussing the original text with me. At a time in 1978 when I was most discouraged and doubtful about the manuscript I was writing, I summoned the courage to send it to him. Not long after that, I was filled with gratitude to receive his kind response in a letter that began, “I have just read your splendid manuscript.” He suggested that we meet to review and clarify some errors in my layperson’s effort to write about his research. That invitation began a series of once-a-week meetings in his office at the California Institute of Technology, resulting in revision after revision of Chapter Three of the manuscript, the chapter in which I attempted to describe the “split-brain” studies.

				Most gratifyingly, when Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was finally published in 1979, Dr. Sperry wrote a statement for the back cover:

“. . . her application of the brain research findings to drawing conforms well with the available evidence and in many places reinforces and advances the right hemisphere story with new observations.”

				I asked him why he had used the “. . .” to begin his statement. He replied, with his usual sly humor, that if any of his colleagues objected to his approval of this nonscientific book, he could always say that something was left out. At that time, objections to Dr. Sperry’s findings were frequent, especially regarding his demonstrations that the right-brain hemisphere was capable of fully human, high-level cognition. These objections diminished over the years, as corroboration of his insights became undeniable. The Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1981 ensured Dr. Sperry’s eminent position in the history of science.

				Many other people have contributed greatly to my book. In this brief acknowledgment, I wish to thank at least a few.

				My publisher, Jeremy Tarcher, for his enthusiastic support over more than thirty years.

				My representative, Robert B. Barnett of the law firm Williams & Connolly, Washington, DC, for always being a great advocate and friend.

				Joel Fotinos, Vice-President and Publisher of Tarcher/Penguin, for setting this project in motion and for his longtime friendship.

				Sara Carder, my Tarcher/Penguin Executive Editor, for her enthusiastic support, help, and encouragement.

				Dr. J. William Bergquist, for his generous assistance with the first edition of the book and with my doctoral research that preceded it.

				Joe Molloy, my longtime friend, who has designed all of my books for publication. Somehow, he makes superb design appear to be effortless, and it isn’t.

				Anne Bomeisler Farrell, my daughter, who as editor has brought her great writing skills to help me with this project. Throughout, she has been my anchor and support.

				Brian Bomeisler, my son, for his long years of work helping me to revise, refine, and clarify these lessons in drawing. His skills as an artist and as our lead workshop teacher have enabled countless students to succeed at drawing.

				Sandra Manning, who so ably manages the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain office and workshops. Her wonderful contribution was in researching and obtaining international permissions to reproduce the many new illustrations found in this edition.

				My son-in-law, John Farrell, and my granddaughters Sophie Bomeisler and Francesca Bomeisler, who have been my enthusiastic cheerleaders.

				My thanks also go to the many art teachers and artists across the country and in many other parts of the world who have used the ideas in my book to help bring drawing skills to their students.

				And last, I wish to express my gratitude to all of the students whom I have been privileged to know over the decades. It was they who enabled me to form the ideas for the original book and who have since guided me in refining the teaching sequences. Most of all, it has been the students who have made my work so personally rewarding. Thank you!


				Drawing used to be a civilized thing to do, like reading and writing.

				It was taught in elementary schools. It was democratic.

				It was a boon to happiness.1


For more than thirty years, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has been a work in progress. Since the original publication in 1979, I have revised the book three times, with each revision about a decade apart: the first in 1989, the second, 1999, and now a third, 2012 version. In each revision, my main purpose has been to incorporate instructional improvements that my group of teachers and I had gleaned from continuously teaching drawing over the intervening years, as well as bringing up-to-date ideas and information from education and neuroscience that relate to drawing. As you will see in this new version, much of the original material remains, as it has passed the test of time, while I continue to refine the lessons and clarify instructions. In addition, I make some new points about emergent right-brain significance and the astonishing, relatively new science called neuroplasticity. I make a case for my life’s goal, the possibility that public schools will once again teach drawing, not only as a civilized thing to do and a boon to happiness, but also as perceptual training for improving creative thinking.

				The power of perception

				Many of my readers have intuitively understood that this book is not only about learning to draw, and it is certainly not about Art with a capital A. The true subject is perception. Yes, the lessons have helped many people attain the basic ability to draw, and that is a main purpose of the book. But the larger underlying purpose was always to bring right hemisphere functions into focus and to teach readers how to see in new ways, with hopes that they would discover how to transfer perceptual skills to thinking and problem solving. In education, this is called “transfer of learning,” which has always been regarded as difficult to teach, and often teachers, myself included, hope that it will just happen. Transfer of learning, however, is best accomplished by direct teaching, and therefore, in Chapter 11 of this revised edition, I encourage that transfer by including some direct instruction on how perceptual skills, learned through drawing, can be used for thinking and problem solving in other fields.

				 					“Why not go out on a limb?

					That’s where the fruit is.”

					—Mark Twain

				The book’s drawing exercises are truly on a basic level, intended for a beginner in drawing. The course is designed for persons who cannot draw at all, who feel that they have no talent for drawing, and who believe that they probably can never learn to draw. Over the years, I have said many times that the lessons in this book are not on the level of art, but are rather more like learning how to read—more like the ABCs of reading: learning the alphabet, phonics, syllabification, vocabulary, and so on. And just as learning basic reading is a vitally important goal, because the skills of reading transfer to every other kind of learning, from math and science to philosophy and astronomy, I believe that in time learning to draw will emerge as an equally vital skill, one that provides equally transferrable powers of perception to guide and promote insight into the meaning of visual and verbal information. I will even go out on a limb and say that we mistakenly may have been putting all our educational eggs into one basket only, while shortchanging other truly valuable capabilities of the human brain, namely perception, intuition, imagination, and creativity. Perhaps Albert Einstein put it best: “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”

				The hidden content

				About six months after publication of the original book in 1979, I had the odd experience of suddenly realizing that the book I thought I had written contained another content of which I was unaware. That hidden content was something I didn’t know I knew: I had inadvertently defined the basic component skills of the global skill of drawing. I think part of the reason this content was hidden from me was the very nature of art education at the time, where beginning drawing classes focused on subject matter, such as “Still Life Drawing,” “Landscape Drawing,” or “Figure Drawing,” or on drawing mediums, such as charcoal, pencil, pen and ink, ink wash, or mixtures of mediums.

				But my aim was different: I needed to provide my readers with exercises that would cause a cognitive shift to the right hemisphere—a shift similar to that caused by Upside-Down Drawing: “tricking” the dominant left hemisphere into dropping out of the task. I settled on five subskills that seemed to have the same effect, but at the time, I thought that there must be other basic skills—maybe dozens of them.

				Then, months after the book had been published, in the midst of teaching a class, it hit me as an aha! that for learning to draw realistic images of observed subjects, the five subskills were it—there weren’t more. I had inadvertently selected from the many aspects of drawing a few fundamental subskills that I thought might be closely aligned to the effect of Upside-Down Drawing. And the five skills, I realized, were not drawing skills in the usual sense;they were rock-bottom, fundamental seeing skills: how to perceive edges, spaces, relationship, lights and shadows, and the gestalt. As with the ABCs of reading, these were the skills you had to have in order to draw any subject.

				I was elated by this discovery. I discussed it at length with my colleagues and searched through old and new textbooks on drawing, but we did not find any additional fundamental basic components of the global skill of basic realistic drawing—drawing one’s perceptions. With this discovery, it occurred to me that perhaps drawing could be quickly and easily taught and learned—not strung out over years and years, as was the current practice in art schools. My aim suddenly became “drawing for everyone,” not just for artists in training. Clearly, the basic ability to draw does not necessarily lead to the “fine art” found in museums and galleries any more than the basic ability to read and write inevitably leads to literary greatness and published works of literature. But learning to draw was something I knew was valued by children and adults. Thus, my discovery led me in new directions, resulting in a 1989 revision of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, in which I focused on explaining my insight and proposing that individuals who had never been able to draw could learn to draw well very rapidly.

				Subsequently, my colleagues and I developed a five-day workshop of forty hours of teaching and learning (eight hours a day for five days), which proved to be surprisingly effective: students acquired quite high-level basic drawing skills in that brief time, and gained all the information they needed to go on making progress in drawing. Since drawing perceived subjects is always the same task, always requiring the five basic component skills, they could proceed to any subject matter, learn to use any or all drawing mediums, and take the skill as far as they wished. They could also apply their new visual skills to thinking. The parallels to learning to read were becoming obvious.

				Over the next decade, from 1989 to 1999, the connection of perceptual skills to general thinking, problem solving, and creativity became a more central focus for me, especially after publication of my 1986 book, Drawing on the Artist Within. In this book, I proposed a “written” language for the right hemisphere: the language of line, the expressive language of art itself. This idea of using drawing to aid thinking proved to be quite useful in a class on creativity that I developed for university students and in small corporate seminars on problem solving.

				Then, in 1999, I again revised Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, again incorporating what we had learned over the years of teaching the five basic skills and refining the lessons. I especially focused on the skill of sighting (proportion and perspective), which is perhaps the most difficult component skill to teach in words, because of its complexity and its reliance on students’ acceptance of paradox, always anathema to the logical, concept-bound left brain. In addition, I urged using perceptual skills to “see” problems.

				 					“The noblest pleasure

					is the joy of understanding.”

					—Leonardo da Vinci

				Now, with this third revision in 2012, I want to clarify to the best of my ability the global nature of drawing and to link drawing’s basic component skills to thinking in general and to creativity in particular. Throughout many cultures, both in the United States and worldwide, there is much talk of creativity and our need for innovation and invention. There are many suggestions to try this or try that. But the nitty-gritty of precisely how to become more creative is seriously lacking. Our education system seems bent on eliminating every last bit of creative perceptual training of the right side of the brain, while overemphasizing the skills best accomplished by the left side of the brain: memorizing dates, data, theorems, and events with the goal of passing standardized tests. Today we are not only testing and grading our children into the ground, but we are not teaching them how to see and understand the deep meaning of what they learn, or to perceive the connectedness of information about the world. It is indeed time to try something different.

				Fortunately, the tide seems to be turning, according to a recent news report. A small group of cognitive scientists at the University of California at Los Angeles is recommending something they call “perceptual learning” as a remedy to our failing educational practices. They express hope that such training will transfer to other contexts, and they have had some success with achieving transfer. Discouragingly, however, the news report ended: “In an education awash with computerized learning tools and pilot programs of all kinds, the future of such perceptual learning efforts is far from certain. Scientists still don’t know the best way to train perceptual intuition, or which specific principles it’s best suited for. And such tools, if they are incorporated into curriculums in any real way, will be subject to the judgment of teachers.”2

				I would like to suggest that we already have a best way to train perceptual skills: it has been staring us in the face for decades, and we haven’t (or wouldn’t, or couldn’t) accept it. I think it is not a coincidence that as drawing and creative arts in general have steadily diminished in school curricula since the mid-twentieth century, the educational achievement of students in the United States has likewise diminished, to the point that we now rank behind Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Sweden, the Netherlands, Hungary, and Slovenia.

				In 1969, perceptual psychologist Rudolf Arnheim, one of the most widely read and respected scientists of the twentieth century, wrote:

“The arts are neglected because they are based on perception, and perception is disdained because it is not assumed to involve thought. In fact, educators and administrators cannot justify giving the arts an important position in the curriculum unless they understand that the arts are the most powerful means of strengthening the perceptual component without which productive thinking is impossible in every field of academic study.

“What is most needed is not more aesthetics or more esoteric manuals of art education but a convincing case made for visual thinking quite in general. Once we understand in theory, we might try to heal in practice the unwholesome split which cripples the training of reasoning power.”3

				Drawing does indeed involve thought, and it is an effective and efficient method for perceptual training. And perceptual knowledge can impact learning in all disciplines. We now know how to rapidly teach drawing. We know that learning to draw, like learning to read, is not dependent on something called “talent,” and that, given proper instruction, every person is able to learn the skill. Furthermore, given proper instruction, people can learn to transfer the basic perceptual components of drawing to other learning and to general thinking. And, as Michael Kimmelman said, learning to draw is a boon to happiness—a panacea for the stultifying and uncreative drudgery of standardized testing that our schools have embraced.

					 						In the history of inventions, many creative ideas began with small sketches. The examples above are by Galileo, Jefferson, Faraday, and Edison.

						—Henning Nelms, Thinking with a Pencil (New York: Ten Speed Press, 1981), p. xiv

				Our two minds and modern multitasking

				 					In his wonderful book The Master and His Emissary, psychiatrist and Oxford professor Iain McGilchrist proposes a telling metaphor to describe human history and human culture:

					“Over the centuries of history, The Master (the right hemisphere) has seen his empire and powers usurped and betrayed by his Emissary (the left hemisphere).”

					—Iain McGilchrist, The Master and His Emissary (Yale University Press, 2009), p. 14

				Today, as research expands and the information-processing styles and proclivities of the hemispheres become ever clearer, respected scientists are recognizing functional differences as evident and real, despite the fact that both hemispheres appear to be involved to a greater or lesser extent in every human activity. And there remains much uncertainty about the reason for the profound asymmetry of the human brain, which we seem to be aware of at the level of language. The expression “I am of two minds about that” clearly states our human situation. Our two minds, however, have not had an equal playing field: until recently, language has dominated worldwide, especially in modern technological cultures like our own. Visual perception has been more or less taken for granted, with little requirement for special concern or education. Now, however, computer scientists who are trying to replicate human visual perception find it extremely complicated and slow going. After decades of efforts, scientists have finally achieved facial recognition by computers, but reading the meaning of changes in facial expression, accomplished instantly and effortlessly by the right hemisphere, will take much more time and work.

				Meanwhile, visual images are everywhere, and visual and verbal information compete for attention. Constant multitasking linked to information overload is challenging the brain’s ability to rapidly shift modes, or to simultaneously deal with both modes of input. The recent banning of texting while driving illustrates the problem of the brain’s difficulty in simultaneously processing two modes of information. This recognition that we need to find productive ways to use both modes perhaps explains why replicating right hemisphere processes is only now emerging as important and even, perhaps, critical.

				A complication: the brain that studies itself

				 					An example of extreme multitasking:

					For 12 hours a day, a young intelligence officer monitors 10 overhead television screens, types computer responses to 30 different chats with commanders, troops, and headquarters, has a phone in one ear, and communicates with a pilot on a headset in the other ear. “It’s intense,” he says.

					Reported in the New York Times by Thom Shanker and Matt Richtel, “In New Military, Data Overload Can Be Deadly,” January 17, 2011, p. 1

				As a number of scientists have noted, research on the human brain is complicated by the fact that the brain is struggling to understand itself. This three-pound organ is perhaps the only bit of matter in the our universe—at least as far as we know—that observes and studies itself, wonders about itself, tries to analyze how it does what it does, and tries to maximize its capabilities. This paradoxical situation no doubt contributes to the deep mysteries that still remain despite rapidly expanding scientific knowledge. One of the most encouraging new discoveries that the human brain has made about itself is that it can physically change itself by changing its accustomed ways of thinking, by deliberately exposing itself to new ideas and routines, and by learning new skills. This discovery has led to a new category of neuroscientists, neuroplasticians, who use microelectrodes and brain scans to track complex brain maps of neuronal communication, and who have observed the brain revising its neuronal maps.

				Brain plasticity: a new way to think about talent

				 					“The mystery is the human faculty of perception, the act of knowing what our senses have discovered.”

					—Edmund Bolles, A Second Way of Knowing: The Riddle of Human Perception (Prentice Hall, 1991)

				This conception of a plastic brain, a brain that constantly changes with experience, that can reorganize and transmute and even develop new cells and new cell connections, is in direct contrast to previous judgments of the human brain as being more akin to a hard-wired machine, with its parts genetically determined and unchangeable except for development in early childhood and deterioration in old age. For teachers like myself, the science of brain plasticity is both exciting and reaffirming—exciting because it opens vast new possibilities, and reaffirming because the idea that learning can change the way people live and think has always been a goal of education. Now, at last, we can move beyond the ideas of fixed intelligence limits and special gifts for the lucky few, and look for new ways to enhance potential brain power.

				One of the exciting new horizons that brain plasticity opens is the possibility of questioning the concept of talent, especially the concepts of artistic talent and creative talent. Nowhere has the idea of the hard-wired brain, with its notion of given or not-given talent, been as widespread as in the field of art, and especially in drawing, because drawing is the entry-level skill for all the visual arts. The common remark, “Drawing? Not on your life! I can’t even draw a straight line!” is still routinely announced with full conviction by many adults and even more distressingly, by many children as young as eight or nine, who have tried and sadly judged as failures their attempts to draw their perceptions. The reason given for this situation is often a flat-out statement: “I have no artistic talent.” And yet we know now, from knowledge of brain plasticity and from decades of work by me and many others in the field, that drawing is simply a skill that can be taught and learned by anyone of sound mind who has learned other skills, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

				Drawing, however, is not regarded as an essential skill in the way the three Rs are viewed as necessary life skills. It is seen as perhaps a peripheral skill, nice to have as a pastime or hobby, but certainly not indispensable. And yet, somehow, at some level, we sense that something important is being ignored. Surprisingly, people often equate their lack of drawing skill with a lack of creativity, even though they may be highly creative in other areas of their lives. And the importance of perception often shows up in the words we speak, phrases that speak of seeing and perceiving. When we finally understand something, we exclaim, “Now I see it!” Or when someone fails to understand, we say the person “can’t see the forest for the trees,” or “doesn’t get the picture.” This implies that perception is important to understanding, and we hope that we somehow learn to perceive, but it is a skill without a classroom and without a curriculum. I propose that drawing can be that curriculum.

				Public education and the arts

				 					“Now, more than ever, many of our elected officials view spending on the arts not just as an extravagance but also as a drain on resources that are best used for other purposes. To them, the arts are expendable and a distraction.”

					—Robert Lynch, President, Americans for the Arts/Action Fund, December 16, 2010

					Ironically, a report from the May 2009 “Learning, Arts, and the Brain” conference sponsored by the Johns Hopkins University School of Education in collaboration with the Dana Foundation included the “preliminary but intriguing suggestion that skills learned via arts training could carry over to learning in other domains.”

					—Mariale M. Hardiman, Ed.D., and Martha B. Denckla, M.D., “The Science of Education,” "Informing Teaching and Learning through the Brain Sciences,” Cerebrum, Emerging Ideas in Brain Science, The Dana Foundation, 2010, p. 9

				Drawing, of course, is not the only art that trains perceptual thinking. Music, dance, drama, painting, design, sculpture, and ceramics are all vitally important and should all be restored to public schools. But I’ll be blunt: even if there were the will, there is no way that will happen because it would cost too much in this era of ever-diminishing resources for public education. Music requires costly instruments, dance and drama require staging and costumes, sculpture and ceramics require equipment and supplies. Although I wish it were otherwise, high-cost visual and performing arts programs that were terminated long ago will not be reinstated. And cost is not the only deterrent. Over the last forty years, many educators, decision-makers, and even some parents have come to regard the arts as peripheral, and, let’s face it, frivolous—especially the visual arts, with their connotation of “the starving artist” and the mistaken concept of necessary talent.

				The one art subject that we could easily afford is drawing, the skill that is basic to training visual perception and is therefore the entry-level subject—the ABCs—of perceptual skill-building. Among people who oppose arts education, drawing doesn’t escape the frivolity label, but it is affordable to teach. Drawing requires the simplest of materials—paper and pencils. It requires a minimum of simple equipment and no special rooms or buildings. The most significant requirement is a teacher who knows how to draw, knows how to teach the basic perceptual skills of drawing, and knows how to transfer those skills to other domains. Of all the arts, drawing is the one that can fit into today’s rapidly shrinking school budgets. And most parents are very supportive if their children acquire real, substantive drawing skills as opposed to the more usual “expressive” manipulation of materials in vogue in recent decades. At around ages seven to nine, children long to learn “how to make things look real” in their drawings, and they are well able to learn to draw, given appropriate teaching. If educators would find the will, there would be a way.

				Trying something new

				 					In December 2010, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development released the highly regarded results of its 2009 "Pisa" test, the Program for International Student Assessment test of fifteen-year-old students in sixty-five countries in science, reading, and math.

					Alarmingly, American students came in seventeenth in reading, twenty-third in science, and thirtieth in math, far behind China, Singapore, Finland, and Korea. The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan said, "We have to see this as a wake-up call."

				We could at least give it a try. Our American public schools are failing fast. The more we double down on teaching facts and figures, the more we focus on standardized testing, the more left-brained our schools become, the more our children are failing even our own standardized tests, while the dropout rates rise ominously. Albert Einstein once defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” He also said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”

				In light of the United States' appalling worldwide standing in reading, math, and science, surely it is time to try something different—namely, to begin purposely educating the other half of the brain in order to maximize the powers of both hemispheres. I believe that the goal of education should be not only to pass necessary standardized tests but also to enable our students to acquire and apply understanding to what they have learned. Ideally, of course, students should develop rational, orderly thinking processes—left-hemisphere skills that are compatible with investigation, dissection, reduction, examination, summary, and abstraction. If we also teach students right-hemisphere perceptual skills, they will help students “see things in context,” “see the whole picture,” “see things in proportion and in perspective,” and observe and apprehend—in short, to intuit, to understand and bring meaning to the fragmented world of the left hemisphere.

				Teaching for transfer of learning

				 					Transfer of learning can be “near transfer” or “far transfer.” An example of near transfer of drawing skills might be students drawing various types of bird beaks in a science class to memorize and identify them. An example of far transfer might be students extrapolating from that experience to study and understand the evolution of bird beaks.

					Alan Kay, famed for his innovative computer science contributions, has stated that the concept of negative spaces is essential to computer programming—an elegant example of “far transfer.”

				To promote understanding, we could teach our children perceptual skills through drawing in elementary school, starting around the fourth or fifth grade—not with the intention of training future artists, but with the intention of teaching students how to transfer perceptual skills learned through drawing to general thinking skills and problem-solving skills. After all, we do not teach children to read and write with the goal of training future poets and authors. With careful teaching for transfer, drawing and reading together can educate both halves of the brain.

				A further argument for perceptual training is the ameliorative effect that a partial focus on right-hemisphere learning might have on our public school curriculum. To have even a small part of the school day free from continuous left-brain, verbal discourse might provide some welcome quiet time and relief from incessant competitive verbal pressure. In days long past, when I attended ordinary working-class public schools, art classes, cooking classes, sewing classes, ceramics, woodworking, metal working, and gardening provided welcome breaks in the academic day, with time for solitary thought. Silence is a rare commodity in modern classrooms, and drawing is an individual, silent, timeless task.

				Two vital global skills: reading and drawing

				What are the skills you will learn through drawing, and how do they transfer to general thinking? Drawing, like reading, is a global skill made up of component subskills that are learned step by step. Then, with practice, the components meld seamlessly into the smoothly functioning global activities of reading and drawing.

				For the global skill of drawing, the basic component skills, as I have defined them, are:

				 					The perception of edges (seeing where one thing ends and another starts)

					The perception of spaces (seeing what lies beside and beyond)

					The perception of relationships (seeing in perspective and in proportion)

					The perception of lights and shadows (seeing things in degrees of values)

					The perception of the gestalt (seeing the whole and its parts)

				The first four skills require direct teaching. The fifth occurs as an outcome or insight—a visual and mental comprehension of the perceived subject, resulting from the focused attention of the first four. Most students experience these skills as new learning, seeing in ways they haven’t seen previously. As one student put it after drawing her own hand, “I never really looked at my hand before. Now I see it differently.” Often students say, “Before I learned to draw, I think I was just naming things I saw. Now it’s different.” And many students remark that seeing negative spaces, for example, is an entirely new experience.

				Turning to reading, specialists in teaching reading list the basic component skills of reading, mainly taught in elementary school, as:

				 					Phonetic awareness (knowing that alphabet letters represent sounds)

					Phonics (recognizing letter sounds in words)

					Vocabulary (knowing the meanings of words)

					Fluency (being able to read quickly and smoothly)

					Comprehension (grasping the meaning of what is read)

				 					I am not an expert in reading instruction, but it worries me that “fluency” is consistently listed in educational literature as a basic component of reading. It seems to me that fluency is better described as an outcome of learning to read. It also worries me that learning syllabification of words is rarely listed by reading experts as a basic component, nor is basic sentence structure—that is, finding the subject and verb in a sentence.

					The listing of fluency as a basic reading component calls to mind the very common practice of art teachers insisting that beginners in drawing, even before they have learned the most basic components of the skill, draw a perceived subject very, very rapidly (this is often called “scribble drawing”), which can leave students baffled and frustrated. After the fifth or sixth—or tenth—scribble drawing, the left brain will have dropped out and students may come up with a “good” drawing, usually so designated by the teacher. They don’t know why it happened, how to replicate it, or why the teacher likes it. It does seem that often in American education, fast is judged to be better, even when it isn’t.

				As in drawing, the last skill of comprehension ideally occurs as an outcome or result of the preceding skills.

				I am aware, of course, that many additional skills are required for drawing that leads to “Art with a capital A,” the world of artists, galleries, and museums. There remain countless materials and mediums along with endless practice to achieve mastery, as well as that unknown spark of originality and genius that marks the truly great artist of any time. Once you have learned basic drawing skill, you can move on, if you wish, to drawing from memory, drawing from imagined images, and creating abstract or nonobjective images. But for skillful realistic drawing of one’s perceptions using pencil on paper, the five skills I will teach you in this book provide adequate basic perceptual training to enable you to draw what you see.

				The same is true of basic reading, of course. There are many refinements of reading abilities, depending on subject matter and formats other than print on paper. But for both skills, the basic components are the foundation. Once you can read, your plastic brain has been forever changed. You can read anything, at least in your native language, and you can read for life. Likewise, once you have learned to draw, your brain has again been changed: you can draw anything that you see with your own eyes, and the skill stays with you for life.

				Twin skills and their transfer: L-mode and R-mode

					 						“Perhaps the best way of all ways of learning observation is to draw. Best not only because you have to look and look again (there are no hiding places for ignorance between pencil and paper) but also because drawing demands a more or less methodical approach: a general sizing up of the whole subject followed by more and more minute inspection of the details.”

						—Hugh Johnson, Principles of Gardening (Mitchell Beazley Publishers Limited, 1979), p. 36

				Thus, in a sense, reading and drawing might be thought of as twin skills: verbal, analytical L-mode skills as a major function of the left brain, and visual, perceptual R-mode skills as a major function of the right brain. Moreover, human history tells us that, like written language, portraying perceptions in drawings has been singularly important in human development. Consider the fact that the astoundingly beautiful prehistoric cave drawings and paintings preceded written languages by more than twenty-five thousand years. Moreover, writing grew out of pictographs or word pictures representing, for example, bird, fish, grain, and ox, thus illustrating the profoundly significant role of drawing in human development. And consider the fact that human beings are the only creatures on our planet that write things down and make images of things seen in the world.

				Language dominates

				 					If an art student says, “Well, I am good at drawing still life, and I am fairly good at figure drawing, but I am not good at landscape, and I can’t do portraits at all,” it means that one or more of the basic component skills has not been learned. A comparable statement about reading would be, “I am good at reading magazines, and I am fairly good at instruction manuals, but I’m not good at newspapers, and I can’t read books at all.” Hearing this, one would know that some reading components were not learned.

				These two cognitive twins, however, are not equal. Language is extremely powerful, and the left hemisphere does not easily share its dominance with its silent partner. The left hemisphere deals with an explicit world, where things are named and counted, where time is kept, and step-by-step plans remove uncertainty from the future. The right hemisphere exists in the moment, in a timeless, implicit world, where things are buried in context, and complicated outlooks are constantly changing. Impatient with the right hemisphere’s view of the complex whole, the competitive left hemisphere tends to jump quickly into a task, bringing language to bear, even though it may be unsuited to that particular task.

				 					I once saw a video of an elephant that had been trained to paint a rough image of an elephant by holding a paintbrush in its trunk and painting line by line on paper. This is the nearest nonhuman approximation of human drawing skills I am aware of. But, as far as I know, there are no elephants out in the wild spontaneously drawing images of other animals on stone surfaces or in the sand.

				This is true in drawing: using symbols from childhood to quickly draw an abstracted, notational image, the left brain will rush in to take over a drawing task that is best accomplished by the visual right hemisphere. When writing the original book, I needed to find a way to keep this from happening—a way to enable the right hemisphere to “come forward” to draw. This required finding a strategy to set aside the left hemisphere. Taking my cue from Upside-Down Drawing, and thinking hard, I laboriously arrived at a solution and stated it this way:

In order to gain access to the right hemisphere, it is necessary to present the left hemisphere with a task that it will turn down.

					 						Paleolithic cave painting from Altamira, Spain.

				In other words, it is no use going up against the strong, verbal, domineering left brain to try to keep it out of a task. It can be tricked, however, into not wanting to do the task, and, once tricked, it tends to “fade out,” and will stay out, ending its interfering and usurping. As a side benefit, this cognitive shift to a different-from-usual mode of thinking results in a marvelous state of being, a highly focused, singularly attentive, deeply engaging, wordless, timeless, productive, and mentally restorative state.

				Recently this strategy has been corroborated scientifically. Norman Doidge, in his fascinating book on human brain plasticity, The Brain That Changes Itself (Penguin Books, 2007), cites Dr. Bruce Miller, a professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, who has shown that people who lose language abilities due to left-brain dementia damage spontaneously develop unusual artistic, musical, and rhyming abilities, including drawing abilities—skills attributed to the right hemisphere. Doidge reports that Miller argues that “the left hemisphere normally acts like a bully, inhibiting and suppressing the right. As the left hemisphere falters, the right’s uninhibited potential can emerge.”

				Doidge goes on to say of my main strategy: “Edwards’s book, written in 1979, years before Miller’s discovery, taught people to draw by developing ways to stop the verbal, analytical left hemisphere from inhibiting the right hemisphere’s artistic tendencies. Edwards’s primary tactic was to deactivate the left hemisphere’s inhibition of the right by giving students a task the left hemisphere would be unable to understand and so ‘turn down.’”

				How the strategy works in the drawing exercises

				•	The Vase/Faces exercise in Chapter 4 is designed to acquaint students with the possibility of conflict between the hemispheres as they compete for the task. The exercise is set up to strongly activate the verbal hemisphere (L-mode), but completion of the exercise requires the abilities of the visual hemisphere (R-mode). The resulting mental conflict is perceptible and instructive for students.

				•	The Upside-Down Drawing exercise in Chapter 4 is rejected by the left hemisphere because it is too difficult to name parts of an image when it is upside down, and, in left-brain terms, an inverted image is too unusual—that is, useless—to bother with. This rejection enables the right hemisphere to jump into the task (for which it is well suited) without competition from the left hemisphere.

				•	The Perception of Edges exercise (seeing complex edges) in Chapter 6 forces extreme slowness and extreme perception of tiny, inconsequential (in left-brain terms) details, where every detail becomes a fractal-like whole, with details within details. The left hemisphere quickly becomes “fed up” because it is “too slow for words” and drops out, enabling the right hemisphere to take up the task.

				•	The Perception of Spaces exercise (negative spaces) in Chapter 7 is rejected by the left hemisphere because it will not deal with “nothing,” that is, negative spaces that aren’t objects and can’t be named. In its view, spaces are not important enough to bother with. The right hemisphere, with its recognition of the whole (shapes and spaces), is then free to pick up the task and seems to take antic delight in drawing negative spaces.

				•	The Perception of Relationships exercise (perspective and proportion in buildings or interiors) in Chapter 8 forces the left hemisphere to confront paradox and ambiguity, which it dislikes and rejects (“this is not how I know things to be”), and which are abundant in perspective drawing, with its angular and proportional spatial changes. Because the right hemisphere is willing to acknowledge perceptual reality, it accepts and will draw what it sees (“it is what it is”).

				•	The Perception of Lights and Shadows exercise (values from dark to light) in Chapter 10 presents shapes (of lights and shadows) that are infinitely complex, variable, unnamable, and not useful in terms of language. The left hemisphere refuses the task, which the complexity-loving right hemisphere then picks up, delighting in the three-dimensionality that lights and shadows reveal.

				•	The Perception of the Gestalt occurs during and at the close of a drawing. The main effect is a right-hemisphere aha, as though in recognition of the whole that emerges from careful perception and recording of the parts, all in relationship to each other and to the whole. This initial perception of the gestalt occurs largely without verbal input or response from the left hemisphere, but later the left brain may put into words a response that expresses the right brain’s aha. I believe that the perception of the gestalt closely resembles the “aesthetic response,” our human delight in beauty.

				This, then, is the essence of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: five basic component perceptual skills of drawing, and an overall strategy to enable your brain to bring to bear the brain mode appropriate for drawing. In a new Chapter 11, I suggest specific ways you can apply the five basic skills to general thinking and problem solving. Incidentally, for this edition, I have rewritten the chapter on the Perception of Relationships (perspective and proportion, also called “sighting,” Chapter 8) with hopes of simplifying and clarifying this skill. Because the perceptions are complicated with aspects that seem “left-brained,” putting this skill into words is something like trying to teach someone in words how to dance the tango. Once sighting is understood, however, it is purely perceptual and most engaging because it unlocks three-dimensional space.

				 					This set of drawings by workshop participant James Vanreusel resulted from his work in a five-day class, November 13–17, 2006. His Vase/Faces drawing and his Pure Contour drawing, both done on the Day 1 of the workshop, were not available. Each workshop day begins with an explanation of the component skill to be explored and a demonstration drawing by the instructor, after which the students apply the instructions to their own drawings. James Vanreusel’s drawings illustrate the instructional strategies described here.

					(See additional Pre- and Post-instruction student drawings, here.)

						 							Day 1: James’s Pre-instruction “Self-Portrait.” November 13, 2006

						 							Day 1: His “Upside-Down drawing of Picasso’s Stravinski.” November 13, 2006

						 							Day 2: His drawing of his hand in “Modified Contour” (edges). The fine detail of edges and wrinkles in this drawing derives from the Pure Contour Drawing exercise. November 14, 2006

						 							Day 2: His negative space drawing of a stool. November 14, 2006

						 							Day 3: His drawing of an outside view, “Sighting Perspective and Proportion.” November 15, 2006

						 							Day 4: James’s profile drawing of a fellow student, summarizing edges, spaces, and sighting relationships. November 16, 2006

						 							Day 5: James’s Post-instruction “Self-Portrait,” summarizing edges, spaces, lights and shadows, and the gestalt. November 17, 2006

				The Great Saboteur

				A caution: as all of our students discover, sooner or later, the left hemisphere is the Great Saboteur of endeavors in art. When you draw, it will be set aside—left out of the game. Therefore, it will find endless reasons for you not to draw: you need to go to the market, balance your checkbook, phone your mother, plan your vacation, or do that work you brought home from the office.

				What is the strategy to combat that? The same strategy. Pre-sent your brain with a job that your left hemisphere will turn down. Copy an upside-down photograph, regard a negative space and draw it, or simply start a drawing. Jogging, meditation, games, music, cooking, gardening—countless activities also produce a cognitive shift. The left hemisphere will drop out, again tricked out of its dominance. And oddly, given the great power and force of the left hemisphere, it can be tricked over and over with the same tricks.

				Over time, probably due to brain plasticity, the sabotage will lessen and the need for trickery will diminish. I have sometimes wondered whether the left hemisphere becomes alarmed when it is first set aside for a period of time. The right hemisphere state of mind is notably desirable and productive—sometimes called the “zone” in athletic terms. I think it is possible that the left hemisphere may worry that if you get “over there” long enough, you may not come back. But this is a needless concern. The right-hemisphere state is extremely fragile, ending the instant the cell phone rings or someone asks you what you are doing or calls you to dinner. Immediately it is over, and you are back to your more usual mental state.

				Teaching methods that work

				Over the years, I have been rebuked occasionally by various scientists for overstepping the bounds of my field. In each edition, however, I have made the following statement: The methods presented in my book have proven empirically successful. From my own work with students and letters sent to me by thousands of readers and countless art teachers, I know that my methods work in a variety of environments, taught by teachers with undoubtedly varied teaching styles. Science has corroborated some of my ideas, but we must depend on future science to confirm more exactly the explanations and uses of our still-mysterious and asymmetrical, divided brain.

				Meanwhile, I venture to say that learning to draw always seems to help and never to harm. My students’ most frequent comment after learning to draw is “Life seems much richer now that I am seeing more.” That may be reason enough to learn to draw.

				 					 						1	From “An Exhibition About Drawing Conjures a Time When Amateurs Roamed the Earth,” New York Times, July 19, 2006. Michael Kimmelman is an author and chief art critic for the New York Times.

					 						2	Benedict Carey. “Brain Calisthenics for Abstract Ideas,” New York Times, June 7, 2011

					 						3	Rudolf Arnheim, Visual Thinking (University of California Press, 1969).



				Maurits Cornelis (M. C.) Escher, Drawing Hands, 1948. © 2011 The M. C. Escher

				Company-Holland. All rights reserved.


		 			 				 					“Learning to draw is really a matter of learning to see—to see correctly—and that means a good deal more than merely looking with the eye.”

					—Kimon Nicolaides, The Natural Way to Draw, 1941

				Drawing is a curious process, so intertwined with seeing that the two can hardly be separated. The ability to draw depends on one’s ability to see the way an artist sees. This kind of seeing, for most people, requires teaching, because the artist’s way of seeing is very specific and very different from the ways we ordinarily use vision to navigate our lives.

				Because of this unusual requirement, teaching someone to draw has some special problems. It is very much like teaching someone to ride a bicycle: both skills are difficult to explain in words. For bicycle riding, you might say, “Well, you just get on, push the pedals, balance yourself, and off you’ll go.” Of course, that doesn’t explain it at all, and you are likely to finally say, “I’ll get on the bike and show you how. Watch and see how I do it.”

				And so it is with drawing. An art teacher may exhort students to “look more carefully,” or to “check the relationships,” or to “just keep trying and with practice, you will get it.” This does not help students solve the problems of drawing. And it is fairly rare today for teachers to help by demonstrating a drawing, which is extremely effective. A well-kept secret of art education is that many art teachers, having come up through the same system that prevails today, where real skills in drawing are rarely taught, cannot themselves draw well enough to demonstrate the process to a group of students.

				Drawing as a magical ability

				As a result, few people are skilled at drawing in twenty-first-century American culture. Since it is rare now, many people regard drawing as mysterious and even somewhat magical. Artists who can draw often do little to dispel the mystery. If you ask, “How do you draw something so that it looks real—say a portrait or a landscape?” an artist is likely to reply, “Well, it is hard to explain. I just look at the person or the landscape and I draw what I see.” That seems like a logical and straightforward answer, yet, on reflection, doesn’t explain the process at all, and the sense persists that drawing is a vaguely magical ability.

				This attitude of wonder at drawing skill does little to encourage individuals to try to learn to draw. Often, in fact, people hesitate to take a drawing class because they don’t already know how to draw. That is like deciding that you shouldn’t take a Spanish class because you don’t already speak the language. Moreover, because of changes in today’s art world, a person who has never learned to draw nevertheless can become a successful university art student or even a famous artist.

				Drawing as a learnable, teachable skill

				 					“The painter draws with his eyes, not with his hands. Whatever he sees, if he sees it clearly, he can put down. The putting of it down requires, perhaps, much care and labor, but no more muscular agility than it takes for him to write his name. Seeing clear [sic] is the important thing.”

					—Maurice Grosser,The Painter’s Eye, 1951

				I firmly believe that given good instruction, drawing is a skill that can be learned by every normal person with average eyesight and average eye-hand coordination. Someone with sufficient ability, for example, to sign a receipt or to type out an e-mail or text message can learn to draw. Clearly, the long history of humans drawing pictures of their perceptions, from prehistoric times to now, demonstrates that drawing perceptions is an innate potential of our plastic, changeable brains.

				And learning to draw, without doubt, causes new connections in the brain that can be useful over a lifetime for general thinking. Learning to see in a different way requires that you use your brain differently. At the same time, you will be learning something about how your individual brain handles visual information and about how to better control the process. One aspect of that control is learning to shift away from our more usual way of thinking—mainly in words.

				Drawing attention to states of consciousness

				 					“If a certain kind of activity, such as painting, becomes the habitual mode of expression, it may follow that taking up the painting materials and beginning work with them will act suggestively and so presently evoke a flight into the higher state.”

					—Robert Henri, The Art Spirit, 1923

				I have designed the exercises and instructions in this book specifically for people who cannot draw at all, who may feel that they have little or no talent for drawing, and who may feel doubtful that they could ever learn but who think they might like to learn to draw.

				 					Roger N. Shepard, famed expert on perception, described his personal mode of creative thought during which research ideas emerged in his mind as unverbalized, essentially complete, long-sought solutions to problems.

					“That in all of these sudden illuminations my ideas took shape in a primarily visual-spatial form without, so far as I can introspect, any verbal intervention, is in accordance with what has always been my preferred mode of thinking . . .”

					—Roger N. Shepard, Visual Learning, Thinking, and Communication, 1978

				Given proper instruction, drawing is not very difficult. It almost seems that your brain already knows how to draw. You just don’t realize it. Helping people move past the blocks to drawing is, however, the difficult part. The brain, it seems, doesn’t easily give up its accustomed way of seeing things. It helps, I think, to know that the slight change in awareness or consciousness that occurs in drawing is not that unusual. You may have observed in yourself other slightly altered states. For example, most people are aware that they occasionally slip from alert consciousness to a state of daydreaming. As another example, people often say that reading a good novel takes them “out of themselves.” Other kinds of activities that apparently produce a shift in consciousness are meditation, jogging, video games, sports of all varieties, and listening to music.

				 					“We can chew gum and walk, but we can’t do two cognitively demanding tasks simultaneously.”

					—David Teater, National Safety Council, quoted in the New York Times, February 27, 2011

				An interesting example of this slightly altered state, I believe, is driving on the freeway. In freeway driving, we deal with visual information, keeping track of relational, spatial changes, sensing complicated configurations of traffic. These visual mental operations may activate some of the same parts of the brain used in drawing. Many people find that they also do a lot of creative thinking while driving, often losing track of time. Of course, if driving conditions are difficult, if we are late for an appointment, or if someone sharing the ride talks with us, the shift to an alternative state doesn’t occur. And that nonverbal alternative state is the appropriate one for driving. Verbal distractions, like cell phone conversation or texting while driving, are proving to be so distracting and dangerous that they are banned in some cities and states.

				 					“To be shaken out of the ruts of ordinary perception, to be shown for a few timeless hours the outer and the inner world, not as they appear to an animal obsessed with work and notions, but as they are apprehended, directly and unconditionally, by Mind at Large—this is an experience of inestimable value to everyone.”

					—Aldous Huxley, The Doors of Perception, 1954

				The shift to the drawing state, therefore, is not entirely unfamiliar, but it is strikingly different in some ways from, say, daydreaming. The drawing state is one of high alertness, engagement, and acute, focused attention. It is also a state without a sense of time passing or awareness of one’s surroundings. Because the state is fragile and easily broken, an important key to learning to draw is learning how to set up conditions that allow this mental shift that enables you to see and draw. In addition to teaching you what and how to see, the exercises and strategies in this book are designed specifically for that purpose.

				The original 1979 edition of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain was based on my teaching experiences in the art departments of Venice High School in West Los Angeles, Los Angeles Trade Technical Community College, and California State University, Long Beach. Subsequent editions benefitted from experiences teaching an intensive five-day, eight-hour-a-day workshop, conducted in many locations across the United States, as well as in countries overseas. Workshop students range widely in ages and occupations. Most of the participants begin a workshop with low-level drawing skills and with high anxiety about their potential drawing ability.

				Almost without exception, workshop students achieve quite a high level of skill in drawing and gain confidence to go on developing their skills in further art courses or by practice on their own. One of the most intriguing findings of the Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain five-day workshop is that people can actually achieve those high-level drawing skills in that forty-hour time period. It is hard work, for both students and teachers, but it does reinforce my belief that our teaching and our instruction have more to do with releasing inborn skills than teaching new skills.

				To put it another way, it seems probable that you have all the brain power needed for drawing, but old habits of seeing interfere with that ability and block it. The exercises in this book are designed to remove that interference and unblock it.

				Realism as a means to an end

				The drawing exercises focus on what is known in the art world as realism, the art of realistically portraying actual things seen “out there” in the world. Unexpectedly, perhaps, the subjects I have chosen for the exercises are usually considered in drawing terms to be the most difficult: the human hand, a chair, a landscape or an interior of a building, a profile portrait, and a self-portrait.

				I have not selected these drawing tasks to torture our students but rather to provide them with the satisfaction of being able to draw the really “hard” subjects. Famed psychologist Abraham Maslow once said, “The greatest satisfaction comes from mastering something that is truly difficult.” Another reason for my subject choices is that all drawing is the same, broadly speaking, always involving the same ways of seeing and the same skills, the basic components of drawing. You might use different mediums, different papers, large or small formats, but for drawing still-life setups, the figure, random objects, portrait drawings, and even imaginary subjects or drawing from memory, it is all the same task, always requiring the same basic component skills—just as it is in reading! Drawing requires that you see what is out there (imaginary subjects and images from memory are “seen” in the “mind’s eye”) and you draw what you see. Since it is all the same task, it seems to me that we might as well go for peak accomplishment. One subject is not “harder” than another, once you understand the basics of drawing.

				 					“I have learned that what I have not drawn,

					I have never really seen, and that when I start drawing an ordinary thing, I realize how extraordinary it is, sheer miracle.”

					—Frederick Franck, The Zen of Seeing, 1973

				Moreover, in the case of drawing a profile portrait or a self-portrait, students are highly motivated to see clearly and to draw correctly what they see. This high motivation might be lacking if the subject is a potted plant, where a viewer of the finished drawing might have a less critical eye for verisimilitude. Beginning students often think that portrait drawing must be the hardest of all kinds of subjects. Thus, when they see that they can successfully draw a portrait that actually looks like the sitter, their confidence soars and progress is enhanced.

				A second important reason for using portraits as subject matter is that the right hemisphere of the human brain is specialized for recognition of faces. Since the right hemisphere is the one we are trying to access, it makes sense to choose a subject that fits the functions of the right brain. And third, faces are fascinating! In drawing a portrait, you see a face as you have never seen one before, in all its complexity and expressive individuality. As one of my students said, “I don’t think I ever actually saw anyone’s face before I started drawing. Now, the oddest thing, I find I am really seeing people instead of just making verbal tags, and the unusual faces are the ones I find the most interesting.”

				My approach: A path to creativity

				I recognize that you may have no interest whatsoever in becoming a full-time working artist, but there are many reasons for learning to draw. I see you as an individual with creative potential for expressing yourself through drawing. My aim is to provide the means for releasing that potential, for gaining access at a conscious level to your inventive, intuitive powers that may have been largely untapped by our verbal, technological culture and education system.

				Creative persons from fields other than art who want to get their working skills under better control and learn to overcome blocks to creativity will also benefit from working with the techniques presented here. Teachers and parents will find the theory and exercises useful in helping children develop their creative abilities.

				The exercises will also provide insights into the way your mind works—that is, your two minds—singly, cooperatively, or one against the other. A reasonable goal that you might pursue in learning to draw is simply to enhance confidence in your critical thinking ability and your decision making. With our new knowledge of brain plasticity, the possibilities seem almost limitless.

				Learning to draw may uncover potentialities that are unknown to you right now. The German artist Albrecht Dürer said, “From this, the treasure secretly gathered in your heart will become evident through your creative work.”

				Summing up

				 					In a letter to his brother, Theo, who had suggested that Vincent become a painter, Vincent van Gogh wrote:

					“. . . at the time when you spoke of my becoming a painter, I thought it very impractical and would not hear of it. What made me stop doubting was reading a clear book on perspective, Cassange’s Guide to the ABC of Drawing, and a week later I drew the interior of a kitchen with stove, chair, table and window—in their places and on their legs—whereas before it had seemed to me that getting depth and the right perspective into a drawing was witchcraft or pure chance.”

					—Complete Letters of Vincent van Gogh, Letter 184, p. 331

				Drawing is a teachable, learnable skill that can provide a twofold advantage. First, by gaining access to the part of your mind that works in a style conducive to creative, intuitive thought, you will learn a fundamental skill of the visual arts: how to put down on paper what you see in front of your eyes. Second, you will enhance your ability to think more creatively in other areas of your life.

				How far you go with these skills will depend on your other traits, such as energy, curiosity, and discipline. But first things first! The potential is there. Sometimes it is necessary to remind ourselves that Shakespeare at some point learned to write a line of prose, Beethoven learned the musical scales, and, as you see in the margin quotation, Vincent van Gogh learned how to draw.

					 						Vincent van Gogh (1853-1890), Three Hands, Two Holding Forks, Nuenen: March-April, 1885.

						Drawing, black chalk on laid paper, Van Gogh Museum Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation), The Netherlands



				Edgar Degas (1834–1917), M. Gouffé, the String Bass Player. Photography: Graham Haber, 2010. The Thaw Collection, The Pierpont Morgan Library, New York. EVT 279/Art Resource, NY.

				A sketch by Degas for his painting, The Orchestra of the Opera. The artist masterfully used the compositional device of placing the bass player in the extreme foreground of the painting, giving depth to the scene. The viewer looks past Gouffé to the footlit stage.

		 			 				Drawing materials

				 					“I love the quality of pencil. It helps me get to the core of a thing.”

					—Andrew Wyeth, in The Art of Andrew Wyeth, exhibition catalog, The Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, 1973

				Art supply stores can be rather baffling in their profusion of products, but fortunately, the materials required for drawing are simple and limited in number. Essentially, you need paper and a pencil, but for purposes of effective instruction, I have added a few more items.

				Paper:	Some inexpensive plain bond paper

A pad of Strathmore Drawing Paper, 80 lb., 11" × 14"

				Pencils:	A #2 ordinary yellow writing pencil with an eraser at the top

A #4 drawing pencil—Faber-Castell, Prismacolor Turquoise, or other brand

				Marking pens: 	Sharpie (or other brand) fine point non-permanent black

A second marker, fine point permanent black

				Graphite stick: 	#4 General’s is a good brand, or other brand

				Pencil sharpener: 	A small handheld sharpener is fine

				Erasers: 	A Pink Pearl eraser

A Staedtler Mars white plastic eraser

A kneaded eraser—Lyra, Design, or other brand

				Masking tape: 	3M Scotch Low Tack Artist Tape

				Clips: 	Two 1-inch-wide black clips

				Drawing board: 	A firm surface large enough to hold your 11" × 14" drawing paper—about 15" × 18" is a good size. This can be improvised from a kitchen cutting board, a piece of foam board, a piece of Masonite, or thick cardboard.

				Picture plane: 	This too can be improvised using an 8" × 10" piece of glass (you will need to tape the edges), or an 8" × 10" piece of clear plastic, about 1⁄16" thick.

				Viewfinders: 	You will make these from black paper—“construction” paper is a good thickness, or you could use thin black cardboard. You will find instructions for making the viewfinders here

				A small mirror: 	About 5" × 7" that can be taped to a wall, or any available wall mirror.

				Gathering these materials requires a bit of effort, but they will truly help you learn rapidly. We no longer attempt to teach our students without the help of viewfinders and the plastic picture plane, because these aids are so essential to your understanding of the basic nature of drawing.1 Once you have learned the basic components of drawing, however, you will no longer need these teaching aids.

				Pre-instruction drawings—a valuable record for later validation of your progress

				Now, let’s get started. First, you need to make a record of your present level of drawing skills. This is important! You don’t want to miss the pleasure of having a real memento of your starting point to compare with your later drawings. I am fully aware of how anxiety-causing this is, but just do it. As the great Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh wrote in a letter to his brother Theo:

“You do not know how paralyzing it is, that staring of a blank canvas which says to a painter, ‘You don’t know anything.’”

				 					How to construct two viewfinders

					Viewfinders are perceptual aids that will help you “frame” your view and compose your drawings. Note that the outside edge of your picture plane, the outside and inside edges of your viewfinders, and the format you draw on your drawing paper are all the same proportion in width to length, differing only in size. This enables you to draw what you see through the viewfinder/picture plane onto the format drawn on your paper—they are all proportionately the same shape, though they differ in size.

					Construct two viewfinders as follows:

					1.	Use black construction paper or thin black cardboard.

					2.	Cut two 8" × 10" pieces (this is the same size as your picture plane).

					3.	On both pieces, using pencil, draw diagonal lines from corner to corner, crossing in the middle.

					4.	On one piece, draw vertical and horizontal lines 2" from the edge, again connecting the lines at points on the diagonals. Cut out the inner rectangle. This is your “small viewfinder.”

					5.	On the second piece, draw vertical and horizontal lines 1" from the edge, connecting the lines at points on the diagonals, forming a new inner rectangle. Using scissors, cut out the inner rectangle. This is your “large viewfinder.”

					Constructed this way, the inner rectangles have the same proportion width to length as the outer edges of the viewfinders.

					You will use your viewfinders by clipping one or the other onto your Picture Plane. Don’t forget to draw vertical and horizontal crosshairs on your Picture Plane, using your permanent marking pen.

				Soon you will “know something,” I promise. Just gear yourself up and do the drawings. Later you will be very happy that you did. The pre-instruction drawings have proved invaluable in helping students see and recognize their own progress, because a kind of amnesia seems to set in as drawing skills improve. Students forget what their drawing was like before instruction. Moreover, the degree of criticism keeps pace with progress. Even after considerable improvement, students are sometimes critical of their drawings because “It’s not as good as da Vinci could do,” as one person put it. The pre-instruction drawings provide a realistic gauge of progress.

				After you have finished the drawings, put them carefully away, to be looked at later on in light of your newly acquired skills.

				Three pre-instruction drawings

				It usually takes students about an hour to do the three pre-instruction drawings, but take as long or as short a time as you wish. I first list the drawing titles, then a list of materials needed for these drawings, followed by instructions for each drawing.

				What you will draw:

				 					“A Person, Drawn from Memory”


					“My Hand”

				Materials you will use for the three drawings:

				 					Paper to draw on—plain bond is fine

					Your #2 writing pencil

					Your pencil sharpener

					Your masking tape

					A small 5" × 7" mirror, or any available wall mirror

					Your drawing board

					About an hour of uninterrupted time

				For each drawing in turn, tape a stack of three or four sheets of bond paper to your drawing board. Stacking the sheets provides a “padded” surface to draw on—much better than the rather hard surface of the drawing board.

				Pre-instruction drawing #1: “A Person, Drawn from Memory”

					1.	Call up in your mind’s eye an image of a person—perhaps someone from the past, or someone you know now. Or you may recall a drawing you did in the past or a photograph of a person well known to you.

					2.	To the best of your ability, do a drawing of the person. You may draw just the head, a half-figure, or a full-length figure.

					3.	When you have finished, title, sign, and date your drawing in the lower right-hand corner.

				Pre-instruction drawing #2: Your “Self-Portrait”

					1.	Tape your small mirror to a wall and sit at arm’s length (about 2 to 2½ feet) from the wall. Adjust the mirror so that you see your whole head within its edges. Lean your drawing board up against the wall, resting the bottom of the board on your lap. Have a three-sheet stack of paper taped to your board.

					2.	Look at the reflection of your head in the mirror and draw your “Self-Portrait.”

					3.	When you have finished, title, sign, and date your drawing.

				Pre-instruction drawing #3: “My Hand”

					1.	Seat yourself at a table to draw.

					2.	If you are right-handed, draw your left hand in whatever position you choose. If you are left-handed, of course, draw your right hand.

					3.	Title, sign, and date your drawing.

				When you have finished the pre-instruction drawings:

				Spread the three drawings out on a table and look at them closely. If I were there with you, I would be looking for small areas of the drawings that show that you were looking carefully—perhaps the way a collar turns or a beautifully observed curve of an eyebrow or ear. Once I encounter such signs of careful seeing, I know the person will learn to draw well.

				You, on the other hand, may find nothing admirable and perhaps may dismiss the drawings as “childish” or “amateurish.” Please remind yourself that these are drawings made before instruction. On the other hand, you may be surprised and pleased with your drawings, or parts of them, perhaps especially the drawing of your hand. The “Drawing from Memory” often elicits the most dismay.

				The reason for doing the memory drawing

				I’m sure that drawing a person from memory was very difficult for you, and rightfully so. Even a trained artist would find it difficult, because visual memory is never as rich, complicated, and clear as is actual seeing. Visual memory is necessarily simplified, generalized, and abbreviated—frustratingly so for most artists, who often have a fairly limited repertoire of memorized images that they can call up in the mind’s eye and draw.

				“Then why do it?” you may well ask. The reason is simply this: for a beginning student, drawing a person from memory brings forth a memorized set of symbols, practiced over and over during childhood. While doing the drawing from memory, can you recall that your hand seemed to have a mind of its own? You knew that you weren’t making the image you wanted to, but you couldn’t keep your hand from making those simplified shapes—perhaps the nose shape, for example. This is caused by the so-called symbol system of early childhood drawing, memorized by countless repetitions.

				Now, compare your “Self-Portrait” with your memory drawing. Do you see symbols repeated in both drawings—that is, are the eyes (or the nose or mouth) similar in shape, or even identical? If so, this indicates that your symbol system was controlling your hand even when you were observing the actual shapes in your face in the mirror. You may also find a simplified, repeated symbol for fingernails in your hand drawing.

				The “tyranny” of the childhood symbol system

				This tyranny of the symbol system explains in large part why people untrained in drawing continue to produce “childish” drawings right into adulthood and even old age. What you will learn is how to set your symbol system aside and accurately draw what you see. This training in perceptual skills—how to see and draw what is actually “out there”—is the rock bottom “ABC” of drawing. It is necessarily (or at least ideally) learned before progressing to imaginative drawing, painting, or sculpture.

				With this information in mind, you may want to make a few notes on the backs of your drawings, indicating any repeated symbols, which parts were the most difficult, and which were successful.

				Then, put the drawings away for safekeeping. Do not look at them again until you have completed my course and have learned to see and draw.

				Drawings before and after instruction

				These examples show some of my students’ pre-instruction and post-instruction self-portraits. All had attended one of our five-day, eight-hour-a-day workshops. Students drew their images, seen in a mirror, as you have just done with your pre-instruction drawing. Regard the drawings from this standpoint: as a visible record of improvement in perception. The drawings show typical changes in drawing ability from the pre-instruction “Self-Portrait” to the “Self-Portrait” drawn on the fifth day. As you see, the change between each student’s two drawings is significant enough that it almost seems as though two different persons have done the drawings.

				Learning to perceive is the basic skill that the students acquired, not drawing skill. In our workshops, we actually teach very few skills that could be called “drawing skills,” such as setting a toned ground, using an eraser as a drawing tool, crosshatching, shading from light to dark, and so on. The really important teaching/learning is how to see differently. Our goal is that every student will make significant progress regardless of their initial skill level.

				If you look at the pre-instruction drawings here, you will see that people came to the workshop with different levels of existing skills, as is the case with your pre-instruction drawings. These pre-existing skills have nothing to do with potential to draw well. What the pre-instructions drawings represent is the age at which the person last drew, often coinciding with the age at which the person gave up on trying to draw.

				Considered this way, the pre-instruction drawings here represent drawing-age ranges from about seven or eight years old to late adolescence, and, occasionally, even near-adult drawing age. For example, Terry Woodward and Derrick Cameron were initially drawing at about age level seven or eight, while Merilyn Umboh’s and Robin Ruzan’s pre-instruction drawings represent about age-ten-to-twelve drawing level—that is, they were drawing the way most children draw at that age, and it may be that they quit drawing at that point. Several other students were drawing at a later adolescent age: Andres Santiago and Douglas Hansen. At an even later adolescent age are Peter Lawrence, Maria Catalina Ochoa, Jennifer Boivin, Frank Zvovu, James Han, and David Caswell.

				 					“Don’t worry about your originality. You couldn’t get rid of it even if you wanted to.

					It will stick with you and show up for better or for worse in spite of all you or anyone else can do.”

					—Robert Henri, The Art Spirit, 1923

				As a teacher, I am always interested in this aspect of the pre-instruction drawings, as it gives me a sense of each individual’s history in terms of drawing. The goal of the lessons is to enable each student, regardless of their starting point, to reach fully adult capability in drawing. And, as you can observe in the post-instruction drawings five days later, students do reach that level, with remarkable gains in skills. We—along with our students—strive for 100 percent success in each of our workshops. Success is defined as the ability to effectively use all five of the basic perceptual skills of drawing: perceiving and drawing edges, spaces, relationships, lights and shadows, and the gestalt (in a self-portrait, the likeness). With this foundation, only practice is needed to continue progress, to as high a level as desired. Again, it is quite like reading: once you have the basic skill, further achievement just requires practice, and, perhaps, expanding one’s vocabulary. For drawing, further progress might be in expanded subject matter and other drawing mediums.

				Style, self-expression, and the nonverbal language of drawing

				In his outstanding book Master Drawings Close Up,2 Julian Brooks defines style in drawing thusly:

“Style: In drawing, the distinctive ‘handwriting’ or ‘artistic personality’ revealed by the myriad decisions made consciously and unconsciously by an artist (preference of media, viewpoint, moment depicted, method of drawing human features, etc.) while creating a work.”

				In our workshops, we do not teach how to express yourself in drawing—that is, we do not teach styles of drawing. Your style is your own style, and your expression in drawing is how you express yourself in drawing. If you look only casually at the Seattle students’ drawings, they have a certain similarity because they are all self-portraits and they are all using the same mediums under the same lighting conditions. But if you look more closely, you will see that each person has his or her own personal way of drawing, each a unique style. This is what I value the most. This, to me, is true self-expression in drawing, and it is much more personal than some of the overwhelming expressionism sometimes encouraged in today’s art classes.

				Style in drawing is similar to the development of an individual’s style in handwriting. Once a person moves beyond childhood or adolescent writing styles, the individual’s adult style emerges. If, for a moment, we could regard your handwriting as a form of drawing (which it is), we could say that you are already expressing yourself with a fundamental element of art: line.

				On a sheet of bond paper, using your #2 yellow pencil, write your signature as you usually sign your name. Next, regard your signature from the following point of view: you are looking at a drawing that is your original creation, so unique that it has legal status as being owned by you and no other person in the world. This drawing of your name is shaped, it is true, by the cultural influences of your life, but aren’t the creations of every artist shaped by such influences?

				Every time you write your name, you have expressed yourself through the use of line, just as Picasso’s line in his signature is expressive of him. The line can be “read” because in writing your name, you have used the nonverbal language of art. Let’s try reading line. There are five signatures in the margin. All are the same name: Monica Jessup.

				What is the first Monica Jessup like? You would probably agree that this Monica Jessup is more likely to be extroverted than introverted, more likely to wear bright colors than muted ones, and at least superficially observed, likely to be outgoing, talkative, even dramatic.

				Let’s look at the second signature in the margin. What would you expect that Monica Jessup to be like?

				Now, regard the third Monica Jessup. What is your guess about that person?

				And the fourth signature?

				And the fifth and last signature? What does the line style express?

				Next, turn back to your own signature and respond to the nonverbal message of the line. Then, on the same page, write your name in three or more different styles of line, each time responding to the new image. The name formed by the “drawings” is made up of the same letters forming the same name. What, then, were you responding to?

				You were, of course, responding to the felt quality of the “drawn” lines: the speed, the size, the spacing, the felt muscle tension or lack of tension, the directional pattern or lack of pattern, the clarity of the signature. All of that is precisely communicated by the line.

				Turn back now to your usual, normal signature. It expresses you, your individuality, and your creativity. Your signature is true to yourself. In this sense, you are already using the nonverbal language of art. You are using a basic element of art, line, in an expressive way, unique to yourself.

				In the chapters that follow, therefore, I don't dwell on what you can already do. Instead, the aim is to teach you how better to see what is out there, so that you can use your expressive, individual style to draw your perceptions more clearly and accurately.

				Drawing as a mirror and metaphor for you

				 					“The art of archery is not an athletic ability mastered more or less through primarily physical practice, but rather a skill with its origin in mental exercise and with its object consisting in mentally hitting the mark.

					“Therefore, the archer is basically aiming for himself. Through this, perhaps, he will succeed in hitting the target—his essential self.”

					—Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery, 1948

				To illustrate how much personal, individual style is embedded in drawings, look at the two drawings here, drawn at the same time by two persons—myself and artist/teacher Brian Bomeisler. We sat on either side of our model, Heather Allen. We were demonstrating how to draw a profile portrait for a group of students, the same profile drawing you will learn to do in Chapter 9.

					 						(left) Heather by instructor Brian Bomeisler. (right) Heather by the author.

				We were using identical materials (the ones in your Materials List), and we both drew for the same length of time, about thirty-five or forty minutes. You can see that the model is the same—that is, both drawings achieve a likeness of Heather Allen. But Brian’s portrayal expresses his response to Heather in his more “painterly” style (meaning emphasis on shapes), and my drawing expresses my response in my more “linear” style (emphasis on line).

				By looking at my portrait of Heather, the viewer catches sight of me, and Brian’s drawing provides an insight into him. Thus, paradoxically, the more clearly you can perceive and, in your personal style, draw what you see in the external world, the more clearly the viewer can see you, and the more you can know about yourself. Drawing becomes a metaphor for the artist.

				Because the exercises in this book focus on expanding your perceptual powers, not on techniques of drawing, your individual style—your unique, expressive way of drawing—will emerge intact. This is true even though the exercises concentrate on realistic drawings, which tend to “look alike” in a large sense. But a closer look at realistic art reveals subtle differences in line style, emphasis, and intent. In this age of massive self-expression in the arts, this more-subtle communication often goes unnoticed and unappreciated.

				As your skills increase, you will see your unique style become firm and recognizable. Guard it, nurture it, and cherish it, for your style expresses you. As with the Zen master-archer, the target is yourself.

					 						Fig. 2-2. Rembrandt van Rijn (1606–1669), Winter Landscape (c. 1649). Courtesy The Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University.

						Rembrandt drew this tiny landscape with a rapid calligraphic line. Through it, we sense Rembrandt’s visual and emotional response to the deeply silent winter scene. We see, therefore, not only the landscape; we see through the landscape to Rembrandt himself.

				 					Artists are known by their unique line qualities, and experts in drawing often base their authentication of drawings on these known line qualities. Styles of line have actually been put into named categories. There are quite a few: the “bold line;” the “broken line” (sometimes called “the line that repeats itself”); the “pure line”—thin and precise, sometimes called “the Ingres line” after the 19th-century French artist Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres; the “lost-and-found line,” which starts out dark, fades away, then becomes dark again. See samples in figure 2-3.

					Beginning students most often admire drawings done in a rapid, self-confident style—the “bold” line that is rather like Picasso’s, in fact. But an important point to remember is that every style of line is valued, one not more than another.

					 						Fig. 2-3. A variety of line styles.

				 					 						1	These materials, as well as my custom-designed Picture Plane and viewfinder and a CD demonstrating the exercises, are available for purchase by mail by contacting Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain at www.drawright.com.

					 						2	Published by the J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010, p. 104.



				Edgar Degas (1834–1917), Self-Portrait, c. 1855. Red chalk on laid paper. Image courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., Woodner Family Collection.

				Degas was a passionate viewer of “modern” life in nineteenth-century France. Once, leaving a café with his friend, English painter Walter Sickert, Degas objected when Sickert summoned a closed horse-drawn cab. “Personally,” he said, “I love to ride on the omnibus. You can look at people. We were created to look at one another, weren’t we?”

				—From Robert Hughes, Nothing If Not Critical: Selected Essays on Art and Artists (New York: Penguin, 1992)

		 			 				 					“Few people realize what an astonishing achievement it is to be able to see at all. The main contribution of artificial intelligence has been not so much to solve these problems of information handling as to show what tremendously difficult problems they are.

					“When one reflects on the number of computations that must have to be carried out before one can recognize even such an everyday scene as another person crossing the street, one is left with a feeling of amazement that such an extraordinary series of detailed operations can be accomplished so effortlessly in such a short space of time.”

					—F. H. C. Crick, in The Brain,A Scientific American Book, W. H. Freeman, 1979, p. 130

				Despite centuries of study and thought and the accelerating rate of knowledge in recent years, the human brain still engenders awe and wonder at its marvelous capabilities, not the least of which is the fact that our plastic brains can grow new brain cells and can form new neural pathways. Scientists have targeted visual perception in particular with highly precise studies, yet vast mysteries still prevail. We simply take for granted many of the brain’s capabilities, because they are out of our conscious awareness. Even the most ordinary activities are awe-inspiring, as Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, so eloquently states.

				One of the most amazing capabilities of our human brain is the ability to record our perceptions in drawings. Since I propose that learning how to draw is greatly facilitated by some basic understanding of the role of brain functions in drawing, this is a good place for a brief review before we start on the exercises.

				The double brain

				 					“The left hemisphere analyzes over time, whereas the right hemisphere synthesizes over space.”

					—Jerre Levy, Professor Emeritus, Department of Psychology, University of Chicago, “Psychobiological Implications of Bilateral Asymmetry,” in Hemisphere Function in the Brain, 1974

					 						Fig. 3-1.

				Seen from above, the human brain resembles the halves of a walnut—two similar-appearing, convoluted, rounded brain halves, separated by a longitudinal fissure and mainly connected by the corpus callosum, a thick band of nerve fibers (Figure 3-1,). Most people are aware that the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body, the right hemisphere, the left side. Due to this crossing over of the nerve pathways, the right hand is controlled by the left hemisphere, the left hand by the right brain, as shown in Figure 3-2.

				As a result of extraordinary work by neuroscientists over the past sixty years, we now know that despite our normal feeling that we are one person—a single being—our mental functions are divided between the two cerebral hemispheres. While the hemispheres are visually similar, each has its own way of knowing, its own way of perceiving external reality. Information passes from one side to the other by means of the corpus callosum, thus preserving our sense of one self, but scientists now recognize that the corpus callosum can also inhibit such passage. It appears that each hemisphere may have a way of keeping knowledge from the other hemisphere. Therefore, it may be true, as the old saying goes, that at times the right hand truly does not know what the left is doing.

					 						Fig. 3-2. The crossover connections of left hand to right hemisphere, right hand to left hemisphere.

				 					Many creative people seem to have intuitive awareness of the separate-sided brain. For example, Rudyard Kipling wrote the following poem, entitled “The Two-Sided Man,” which is happily without bias, more than eighty years ago.

					Much I owe to the lands that grew–

					More to the Lives that fed–

					But most to the Allah who gave me two

					Separate sides to my head.

					Much I reflect on the Good and the True

					In the faiths beneath the sun

					But most upon Allah who gave me Two

					Sides to my head, not one.

					I would go without shirt or shoe,

					Friend, tobacco or bread,

					Sooner than lose for a minute the two

					Separate sides of my head!

					—Rudyard Kipling, 1929

				From an evolutionary standpoint, the why of this asymmetrical design is still largely under study. Scientists once thought that only human brains had separate and different functions located (lateralized) in each hemisphere. Recent studies of birds, fish, and primates, however, suggest that asymmetrical brains are common in many vertebrates, and the animal studies indicate that lateralized brains are more efficient, which may help explain the asymmetrical design. The two human hemispheres can work together in a number of ways. They can cooperate, with each half contributing its special capabilities. At other times, one hemisphere can function more or less as the “leading” hemisphere and the other “following.” And research also shows that the hemispheres can conflict, one half attempting to do what the other half “knows” it can do better.

				For the past two hundred years or so, scientists have known that language and language-related capabilities are mainly located in the left hemispheres of the majority of individuals—for approximately 98 percent of right-handers and about two-thirds of left-handers. This knowledge was largely derived from observations of the effects of brain injuries. It was apparent, for example, that an injury to the left side of the brain was more likely to cause a loss of speech capability than an injury of equal severity to the right side.

				Because speech and language are such vitally important human capabilities, nineteenth-century scientists named the left hemisphere the “dominant” or “major” hemisphere, and named the right brain the “subordinate” or “minor” hemisphere. Reflecting these labels, the general view, which prevailed until fairly recently, was that the right half of the brain was less advanced, less evolved than the left half—a mute twin with lower-level capabilities, directed and carried along by the verbal left hemisphere. Among some scientists, the bias against the right hemisphere went even deeper. They considered the right brain to be more on the level of animals and not capable of high, human-level cognition—a sort of “stupid” brain half.

					 						Fig. 3-3. A diagram of the left half of a human brain, showing the corpus callosum and a related commissure.

				Today, that biased view has changed, largely due to groundbreaking and brilliant Nobel Prize–winning research (the 1950s animal studies and the 1960s human “split-brain” studies1) by Roger W. Sperry and his students Ronald Myers, Colwyn Tre-varthen, Michael Gazzaniga, Jerre Levy, Robert Nebes, and others at the California Institute of Technology. Neuroscientists, somewhat reluctantly at first, came to recognize that both hemispheres are involved in high, human-level cognition, with each half of the brain specialized for different modes of thinking, both highly complex.

				But what, you might well ask, does this have to do with learning how to draw? Research on brain-hemisphere aspects of visual perception indicates that drawing a complex realistic image of a perceived form is mainly a function of the right hemisphere of the brain. (As I have mentioned, to avoid the so-called location controversy, I have termed right-brain functions “R-mode,” and left-brain functions “L-mode,” no matter where located in the individual brain.) Learning to draw well may depend on whether you can find a way to access the “minor” or subdominant R-mode. (Yes, in 2012, the right brain is still termed the lesser of the two. Old biases die hard!)

				How does this help a person draw? It appears that the right brain perceives—processes visual information—in a mode suitable for drawing, and that the left-brain mode of functioning (L-mode) may be inappropriate for the task. Because of the strength and dominance of the L-mode, the problem we confront is how to “set aside” the L-mode in order to access the R-mode at the conscious level.

				Language clues reflect a long-held bias against the right brain

				In hindsight, we realize that human beings perhaps from the beginning have had some sense of the differences between