Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

I am also trying to learn how to draw in a realistic way. I have so many line drawings that I’d love to flesh out. To add dimension, shading and complexity. I have never taken a drawing class before, mainly because I thought I couldn’t draw. Every time I tried to draw realistically the result was horrid, and I honestly thought you either could draw or you couldn’t.

I turns out I was wrong. You can learn to draw! I have been reading/following the exercises of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards. I started to do this years ago, and didn’t make it too far, but this time I am determined to get to the end of the course.

Here are two drawings by Vincent Van Gogh, which are in the book to demonstrate that even Van Gogh couldn’t draw without learning. One before he mastered drawing and one after:

Carpenter, Vincent Van Gogh 1880
Woman Mourning, Vincent Van Gogh 1882

The main thing Drawing on the Right Side emphasizes is that you need to turn off your analytical, symbol-making left brain in order to see things properly and then draw what you see. Edwards is saying that people don’t draw poorly; they see poorly. And she has some really interesting examples of that. One is actually above. We don’t see how much head people have on top of their faces so untrained artists often chop off the top of their skulls in their drawings– see the carpenter’s head.

It’s funny because I think my strength as an artist is in being able to draw without thinking. At least not thinking about drawing. Yet I have never seen things properly. When it came to drawing realistically, I was using my left brain along with everyone else (except the good drawers). So I’m going to show my learning process- learning to draw what I see. And juxtapose it with my journal drawings in which I just draw whatever comes out.

Edwards has you start by making a self-portrait and then hide it from yourself until you’ve finished the whole course– at which point you make another self-portrait and compare the two. She also has you make several copies of drawings that are in the book. This is my second real-life drawing, after the self-portrait, along with the journal drawing I did on the same day.

Drawing of my hand. March 07. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain exercise.
March 07 journal drawing