Sunday, 17 October 2010

Drawing on the Right side of the brain

In a previous life, I used to do a lot of watercolour landscapes but living in such a vibrant city as Bristol has really inspired me to want to capture urban scenes. And the best way to do that is to (1) learn how to sketch people and (2) learn how to sketch quickly as city life tends to be fairly fast paced.

So, how to draw people? Yesterday, this was the best that I could do:

They're recognisably human (at least to my eye!) but that's not a great drawing. I think you can get the general gist of how these two ladies were sitting, but the proportion is all wrong and there's no detail - just scribbling. The problem was that I was focusing too much on trying to draw "people" or "ladies sitting on park bench" and not focusing on just drawing the shape of them.

So today I spent a couple of hours doing some exercises from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The first couple of exercises ask you to copy some line drawings upside down (to stop you from thinking about what you're drawing and instead focus your mind on drawing the lines and the shapes). I admit I was skeptical to begin with, but I think the results speak for themselves.

This first picture is a reproduction of Picasso's portrait of Igor Stravinsky. Click on the images to enlarge them.

That's my sketch on the left, and the original on the right.

What's interesting to me about this picture is that, firstly, it was drawn upside down. But secondly, the book actually said that whilst you're drawing upside down you're using that more creative right-hand side of the brain which doesn't bother with trying to identify or name what it is you're looking at. It just draws it. However, the book said to try to do this drawing uninterrupted; if you do get interrupted - for example, if your husband sticks his head around the door and asks how you're doing - your brain will switch back to left-hand thinking to allow you to verbalise a response and you'll lose your focus. If you look at my drawing above left, you can see that the head is really out of proportion with the rest of the body. As I was working upside down, the head was the last thing that I drew and just before I started on it, my husband popped his head around the door and started talking to me. I didn't consciously notice any difference in my focus, but when I turned the picture the right way round, I could spot immediately when my brain switched back to left-hand thinking.

The second drawing I did (also upside down) is a reproduction of Lichtenstenin's Anxious Girl.

And finally, a reproduction of a soldier on a horse by an unknown German artist.

Now, I've never been able to draw a horse before in my entire life, so I'm absolutely thrilled to bits with that last one :) Maybe there's something in this right-side drawing after all!

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