Teaching & Student Work

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Review

In preparation for teaching foundations drawing at MCA this fall, I’ve decided to brush up on my drawing skills by working through Betty Edwards, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

The book is loaded with great techniques for “seeing” and fun, simple exercises for learning how to draw. It is great for beginners but also great for anyone who wants to refresh those foundation skills.

Beyond lessons, Edward also discusses interesting, “eye-opening” concepts regarding left / right brain thinking and how it effects seeing and drawing. She focuses on how perception (i.e., seeing) which happens on the right side of the brain is the most essential part of drawing… not drawing itself. She explains that if you can properly understand and see what you are looking at (which requires the skills of your right brain), then you will be able to draw.

This concept isn’t exactly new, I mean, there are plenty of books that discuss the differences between different sides of our brain and how they are most effectively used. In my personal experience, I had a colleague who helped me become a better writer by explaining how the right side was meant to be creative while the left side was in charge of editing and analyzing information (ie., your critical side). In order to be creative, you must stop your left side of the brain from criticizing while the creative side is in process. Simple, right?

This makes a lot of sense regarding perceptions and drawing as well. You see, the left-side of the brain wants to use words and stored symbols to describe things that it sees but drawing is not about that. In order to really perceive objects, it’s imperative to allow your right-side to visualize and understand what you are seeing and then, put it down on paper.

A new concept that Edwards talks about in this book that she does not address in the previous edition of the book is this idea that drawing is a global skill. Basically, this means that drawing is a skill (just like walking or driving) that anyone can learn relatively quickly. The book describes that as long as you learn the basic skills of drawing, you will always be able to draw.

This is a very exciting “ah-ha” moment as so many people believe that there is this “je ne sais pas” about how some people can draw while others can not. Fortunately, this is not true. All people can learn how to draw if they choose to take the time to learn basic perception skills.

Edwards outlines them in her book:

Five Basic skills.

1. The perception of edges

2. the perception of spaces

3. the perception of relationships

4. the perception of lights an shadows

5. the perception of the whole, or gestault

As for more information, I’d check out the book. If you have been intrigued by this blog post then you won’t regret picking up the book for more information and detailed exercises and drawing techniques.


A Reflection of Summer Semester 2010 at Georgia State University

My design history course finished up last week with an epic presentation on Victorian folk architecture. Well, not so epic… but not too shabby either! I wrote a 25 page research paper including a historic restoration of an 1890’s Victorian parlor as part of my final project for the class.

The drawing class I assisted with this summer finished up their semester with full color drawing / mixed media art for their final critique. It was amazing to see the improvement in all the student’s work from the 8 week course and I was surprised and delighted by the effect the students had on me. I learned so much from them! By the end of the course, they were giving me tips on how to use different medium and helping each other with ideas. The students not only blossomed as individuals, but they successfully worked as a team to create a safe place for self-expression. It was wonderful to see them progress and grow. One of the most difficult things to do as you continue through design and art is to work alone! Having a good relationship with your peers and supporting each other is a large part of the working art community!

I think Drawing (or any art-based course) is a great class to take during the summer. Drawing is a “practice makes perfect” talent and immersing yourself in the art form for longer amounts at a time and more often is a great way to get ahead in a class like this. I just hope the students continue to draw at home to keep their skills fresh… and me too!

Upcoming Events

In the fall, I will teach my own course for sophomore level art majors. The class will cover much of the basics of graphic design – we will design logos, book covers, posters, packaging, and ads. The students will use Photoshop and Illustrator primarily as well as drawing and conceptualizing. I’m really excited to start teaching – I know some of the students from the summer drawing class and look forward to working with them in the fall. I am in the process of building a class blog for the course which will be here:

I’ve been commissioned to paint a newspaper box for Creative Loafing! The project is to paint a newspaper box inspired by Salvador Dali… not much art direction besides that… So far’s progress… I started sketching ideas and picked up the box from CL today. Tomorrow, I visit the High’s Dali exhibit. Stand by for more updates on this project! Here is a link to some of the boxes painted from the last round:

That ends my summation of the summer events! It’s been great to catch up and I’ll be back next week with more on my Creative Loafing project and other exciting endeavors!