Book: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

I just finished reading the book “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards, one of the best-selling non-fiction books that teaches you how to draw by using your right side of the brain. I had to read this book for my art therapy course which I’m enrolled in. The purpose of reading this book was not necessarily to draw better, but to learn how to look at things without projecting or interpreting. Seeing the world around us with the right side of the brain means to see things for what they actually are, not for what they seem to be.

Betty Edwards argues that the right brain’s strengths are undervalued and under-trained in our left-brain oriented culture. She believes that by training the right brain we can learn to use both sides of the brain more effectively and more efficiently according to their strengths.

What I liked most about this book is that it’s full of exercises and you are constantly under the impression that Betty Edwards is right behind you, ready to correct you and encourage you there where you still need to improve. After reading this book, you understand that drawing can be learned and that it’s a matter of techniques and practice. You really learn how to look at things from a different perspective and you have the impression that you’re being told secrets that only artists know.

One of the most interesting exercises that I would like to share with you is the one where she tells you to draw a portrait upside down. It is so interesting to see how much conflict arises in your head and how your brain wants so badly to understand what you are drawing. By looking at a portrait upside down, you are no longer drawing the eyes, the nose, the mouth. You are looking at lines that you cannot distinct properly and your hand is forced to draw line by line, curve by curve, without interpreting, analyzing and being stressed that the facial features don’t look right. The drawing begins to unfold without even knowing and it turns out to be so precise that it’s impossible not to have a surprise effect when you turn the picture around and see that you managed to draw almost perfectly a portrait without even knowing what you were drawing.

You can see here the portrait that I drew upside down. It’s the portrait of Igor Stravinsky, drawn by Picasso. I think if I had drawn this normally, I would have never had the same results.

Picasso, Igor StravinskyThe two female portraits are also drawn by me before and after reading the book. Obviously, there is so much more room for improvement. But, what I would like to outline is that this book is really helpful in teaching you how to draw, but more importantly how to look at things from a different perspective. After you finish reading it, you realize the power and the different functions of the left and right side of the brain and you understand that it’s useful developing them both equally.

Drawing Credits: Anamaria Olaru


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