Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Now in its fourth revision, this remains the best guide for learning how to draw. I used it with my son, and his progress was remarkable. It has also helped my own drawing skills. I actually looked forward to the exercises which are brilliant and fun. In order to draw you must learn to see, and that’s what this book teaches: how to perceive. Because this perception training relies on strengthening right brain activity, it can be transferred to any kind of creative work. In each edition over the past 30 years, the author has widened the skills she is teaching, so that this current version will improve your perception skills — essential for any kind of innovation — whether or not you ever sketch. And still, it remains the best teacher for anyone — yes, anyone! — learning to how to draw.

-- KK  

[Count me as another fan of this book. Like Kevin says, it teaches you to see things as they are. Instead of looking at a tree and thinking "this is a tree," you look at its shapes (and how they relate to each other) and its shading. -- Mark]

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Betty Edwards
2012, 320 pages
$13

Available from Amazon

Sample Excerpts:

A caution: as all of our students discover, sooner or later, the left hemisphere is the Great Saboteur of endeavors in art. When you draw, it will be set aside–left out of the game. Therefore, it will find endless reasons for you not to draw: you need to go to the market, balance your checkbook, phone your mother, plan your vacation, or do that work you brought home from the office.

What is the strategy to combat that? The same strategy. Present your brain with a job that your left hemisphere will turn down. Copy an upside-down photograph, regard a negative space and draw it, or simply start drawing. Jogging, meditation, games, music, cooking, gardening–countless activities also produce a cognitive shift. The left hemisphere will drop out, again tricked out of its dominance. And oddly, given the great power and force of the left hemisphere, it can be tricked over and over with the same tricks.

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Drawing is a curious process, so intertwined with seeing the that the two can hardly be separated. The ability to draw depends on one’s ability to see the way an artist sees. This kind of seeing, for most people, requires teaching, because the artist’s way of seeing is very specific and very different from the ways we ordinarily use vision to navigate our lives.

Because of this unusual requirement, teaching someone to draw has some special problems. It is very much like teaching someone to ride a bicycle: both skills are difficult to explain in words.

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Drawing as a learning, teachable skill

I firmly believe that given good instruction, drawing is a skill that can be learned by every normal person with average eyesight and average hand-eye coordination. Someone with sufficient ability, for example, to sign a receipt or to type out an e-mail or text message can learn to draw.

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These pre-existing skills have nothing to do with potential to draw well. What the pre-instructions drawings represent is the age at which the person last drew, often coinciding with the age at which the person gave up trying to draw.

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To draw the Picasso upside down, move from line to adjacent line, space to adjacent shape and work your way through the drawing.

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Ideally (in my view), learning in art should proceed as follows: the perception of edges (line) leads to the perception of shapes (negative spaces and positive shapes), drawn in correct proportion and perspective (sighting). These skills lead to the perception of values (light logic), which leads to the perception of colors as values, which leads to painting.




Pogo Connect

I’ve been using this stylus like crazy and I am in love! It’s a touch sensitive stylus for drawing and painting on the iPad which works incredibly well. Because of its touch-sensitive capabilities, this is the first stylus that allows me to think of the iPad as tool for serious illustration. I love my Wacom tablet, but using this is a completely different and, in some ways, a much more direct way to connect to my work… especially once I’d found the right drawing app. I suggest Procreate, which is designed to take advantage of the Pogo Connect.

Having said this, the Pogo stylus has a couple drawbacks. For example, the setup of the pen is unclear. This confused me and a number of other Amazon reviewers who expressed their frustration at never getting it working. Stick with it! Follow the directions… it does work and it works well!

Secondly, the build of the stylus is sorta cheap. During the first usage of my Pogo Connect, I pressed the (flimsy) plastic button into the hollow body. Arg! How infuriating! And I am not the first to have had this problem. With no button, the stylus was unusable.

The Pogo Connect is an awesome tool. Now that I have it, I’m unable to live without it! But I’ll always press that button with a feather touch!

-- Robyn Miller  

Pogo Connect
$66

Available from Amazon

Manufactured by Ten 1 Design Sketch by Robyn Miller

Sample Excerpts:




Thinking With a Pencil

Henning Nelms’ classic Thinking With a Pencil should be a textbook in elementary school. Kids could then use the quick visualization skills Nelms teaches for the rest of their lives to help communicate, sell, and envision new products, services, and worlds. I know I wish I had gotten my hands on this book well before my engineering school days. I’ve used these skills to wireframe websites, diagram manufacturing lines, and sell process improvement projects to prospective clients. There is something in here for everyone as Nelms emphasizes the use of drawing in all disciplines.

The book was first published in 1957, but was republished in 1986 by Ten Speed Press, and is available used today. I think I learned about the book from the Whole Earth Catalog, too.

-- James Hom  

Thinking With A Pencil
Henning Nelms
First Edition
1986, 347 pages

Available used from Abe Books

Available from Amazon