― Betty Edwards, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
After attending Amy Potts' presentation at the MAEA Spring Conference 2019 - Kansas City, Missouri: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workshop I decided to adopt some of the activities into my classroom practices because my Art 1 students were having such a tough time seeing and drawing.
A little about Betty Edwards, the author:
She received a Bachelor's in Art from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA, 1947), a Master's of Art from California State University, Northridge, and a Doctorate in Art, Education, and Psychology from UCLA (1976).
An artist and painter, she taught at high school level in the Los Angeles public school district (Venice High School), then at community college, and from 1978 until her retirement in 1991, in the Art Department at California State University, Long Beach. All of her teaching experience has been in art: drawing, painting, art history, art-teacher training, and color theory. In addition to teaching drawing workshops around the world, she has also done business consulting with major national and international corporations to enhance creative problem solving.
Although there is evidence to suggest that left-brained/right-brained is a myth I believe these drawing exercises with improve your drawing and are good for your brain.
Drawing is a TEACHABLE, LEARNABLE skill. Like reading: once you have the basic skill, further achievement just requires practice, and, perhaps, expanding one’s vocabulary.
Present the brain with a task the left brain either can’t or won’t handle.
There are 5 basic component skills:
- 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 gestalt (seeing the whole and its parts) p xxv
Face-Vase Exercise p 46
Right handed→ Left handed→
- draw for about an hour
- Finish in one sitting
- Do NOT turn your drawing or the image right side up while drawing
- Start in one corner and work your way across and down or up
- Think about shape and relationship (NOT about what you are drawing)
Draw the negative spaces of a chair
Draw your hand
Draw your hand several times - use different poses
Draw a profile of a real person
Reading this book has profoundly changed my instructional practices. Since I had started reading the book at the end of last year, it gave me some observational data on how some of the techniques could change the classroom culture and art making practices. This year, I implemented the warm up techniques at the beginning of the year, students drew specific things in their sketchbooks as bellwork and now all of my classes are able to get focused and in the 'zone' pretty much every day when we utilize the strategies.
Students' drawing skills and my ability to explain certain things have improved as a result of reading this book. Explaining to students the science behind how their brains respond to certain activities helped them to understand how art can help them focus and what they need to do in order to prepare their brains for art making, which has helped with goal setting and overall productivity.The object is to: Present your brain with activities that cause your L-brain to drop out: regard negative spaces, play a game, go for a bike ride, go jogging, cook a special meal, pray, draw.
I decided to combine the activities in the book with my daily bell work over the course of a week or two AND I presented the activities with research based on my student surveys. Students had said that I don't spend enough time making the course relevant in their lives, so I decided to make that a priority at the beginning of the year with the information in the slide show.
Technically, I came right home last spring and created this slideshow and implemented it at the end of last year and then I started the beginning of this year with this same information and I believe that I have gotten off on a much better start with my students overall. The activities helped them to be more focused and calm at the beginning of class, which has been really nice to help them to focus and 'get in the zone' or flow of working.
Here is a link to my slideshow which shows how I present the information in the classroom.