Come to the RIGHT side

Human beings (and even dark lords) have a basic need to draw others to ‘their’ side. Darth Vader wanted Luke to come to the Dark side (and I think he would have succeeded had he thought of the cookie idea). Politicians spend gazillions of dollars swaying us to come to their side (very similar to the dark side). Television stations spend lots on advertising to gather viewers. Even school coaches rally students to join their sport–football, cross country, or the grueling chess club. And I’m no different…because today, I am going to try to encourage you to come to the RIGHT side. The right side of SEEING.

I hate when people look at something I’ve drawn or painted and sigh and say, “Oh, I wish I could do that…but I can’t even draw a stick figure.”  They feel that drawing is a talent you either have or don’t have.  But that’s not true!  What if I never tried to learn Spanish because I don’t already know it?  Silly, huh?

If you’ve ever wished you could draw, and thought it impossible, I would recommend the book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards.  It will change your whole outlook on art; it did mine.  The premise of the book is that the ability to draw depends on the ability to see the way an artist sees.

Most people think almost completely with the left side of their brain—their logical side.  When they are told to draw a person, instead of seeing that person for who they really are, their logical side says:  ‘A body has a head that’s round, two eyes, a nose, mouth, etc.’

We draw a stick figure with all the parts we logically know are there.  When we draw a hand, we know it has five fingers and hurry and draw that, without letting our creative side of our brain guide us.

This book has great exercises to teach you how to make the switch from your left to the right side of your brain.  If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed by all you come to see as you draw a hand—all the wrinkles, contours, shadows, texture…which when you put down on paper, form a hand of substance, instead of those cartoon hands you’ve normally drawn.

Even if you’re not into art, I think learning to see with your right side of your brain is important.  Everyday items and people become more beautiful and wondrous, instead of being taken for granted.  Everyone has a right side of their brain (unless you’ve had brain surgery and had a big chunk of it removed…then you have a few other problems I don’t want to deal with here); we just aren’t used to using it very often.  School and society push us to use our left side almost exclusively.  But the right side is there and your life will be greatly enhanced if you learn to use it to see creatively.

So come to the right side. [insert heavy Darth Vader-like breathing here to make me sound more intense and serious. Thank you.]

Char Signature

19 thoughts on “Come to the RIGHT side

  1. Sigh. I like my left brain. I spend most of my time there. But I do draw my right brain out during the creative phase of my writing, so that’s something, I suppose. And I’m pretty sure eating chocolate uses the right brain. 😉

    • Ooooo. Chocolate. I would cross over to the dark side for that. I’ve drawn for years, but found it interesting when I read this book how much I still used my left brain to draw. That’s why people were so hard for me. I would draw what I “knew in my left side” was there, and it always looked cartoonish. This helped me start seeing shadows and form instead of structure (and I was amazed at how many wrinkles were on my hand. Eeeek!)

  2. This subject intrigue me. It hints at why it’s so important to keep art, music, any kind of creativity in schools. It spurs a different type of thinking, which helps our left brain activity.

    I need to start drawing again, if only just to trigger my creative mind. I think it would help me prime the pump. I listened to a woman who spoke about writer’s block. She suggested stopping to read poetry, look at art, listen to music, and now I’m thinking, thanks to your post, draw…in order to engage our creative mind.

    Back to how it’s useful in schools, I think it helps us think out of the box. See different angles of the situation at hand.

    Thanks for sharing great ideas this morning!

    • I so agree. It hurts me when schools take more of the creative classes out of school and just focus on the left side exclusively. No wonder so many kids struggle to do well. There are probably at least half of the students who think more on their right brain anyway, so forcing them onto the left is bias. Force some left-siders onto the right as well, and have a well-rounded education.

    • There is enormous amount of untapped potential within each of us. I hate when schools try to dumb things down so everyone can be mediocre and no one shines.

  3. I have to confess, I’m one of those people who sometimes says “I can’t even draw a stick figure.” Good point about how we have to put effort into learning our talents. I think most artists have some natural ability, but I also know they have worked very hard to develop their skills. Also, I want to go make some cookies.

    • Ha ha. Send me a batch…pretty please. I used to use this book in art lessons with kids. It was amazing what they could do when they learned to turn off the left logical side of their brain. Our brain (everyone’s) has the ability to draw what we see–but the left side is bossy and won’t let the right side have a turn usually. One of the exercises has you draw something without looking at your paper–and it’s quite amazing how good that can turn out when we stop worrying about looking at what we are drawing.

  4. What a wonderful post! Very few people seem to think out of both sides of their brains, but developing the underused side has to make us more … well, more ourselves because we’re using ALL our brains.

    • Well said. I agree. Whether you’re more logical or creative, it doesn’t hurt to exercise unused portions of our brains to grow and become even more awesome.

  5. Our brains are so complex, and there must be a good reason why they’re “divvied up” the way they are. I suspect the Industrial Revolution is one of the culprits behind our focus on the left brain’s logic. But I’ll bet we’re happier and get along better with ourselves and one another when we’re using both sides.

  6. Haha, I had to laugh when I saw the cover of the book! I’ve been borrowing it from the library for the past year, always having to return it before I started it before I couldn’t renew it anymore. Maybe I should buy my own copy to make sure I get to read it. At least I get to use photography to exercise my right brain on an almost daily basis. And I hope that with my kids going back to school, I find some time to go back to the children’s book I drafted this summer. All my pages are laid out but now I need to draw on every single page. Quite a challenge but it will be a lot of fun once I can get to it.

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