Saturday, May 10, 2008

Draw Right - Brian and His Mom

Call me competitive - I really thought my self portrait might be one of the best in the workshop. I drew it for the first assignment on the first day of a five day workshop given by Brian Bomeisler. Brian is the son of Betty Edwards, who wrote Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain. Brian teaches drawing based on the methods outlined in his mother's book.

The book outlines a method for learning to draw based on the research of Nobel laureate Roger Sperry. Sperry's research deals with the dichotomy of the human brain with each side of the brain having a unique role in cognition. The left side is the home of the logical and linear. The right side is the home of spatial perception, the nonverbal, and the nonlinear. Edwards' book teaches the artist's perspective, which is an alternative way of thinking that has been marginalized in our culture during the Information Age.

With computers now able to emulate left side function, it is a good time to pay attention to the right brain function. Computers can perform the left brain functions better than humans, at a greater speed, with more accuracy, and without fatigue. In a flat world , communication around the world is quicker and easier. Many routine analytical functions can be done in Asia and communicated anywhere in world at a lesser cost than when done by Americans.

If you are interested in developing the skills of your right brain, Edwards' book or the seminar is a fun starting point. The workshop is a great way to get in touch with your right brain. The classes are from 9 to 5 for 5 days with an hour for lunch. But, who's keeping track of time. I quickly learned that sense of time is the bailiwick of the left brain. When assigned something to draw, I lost all track of time. I can hear Brian telling us not to listen to our left brain. I can also hear the two hemisphere's of my brain arguing about the task at hand. My left brain has had the upper hand for years and was not happy about this folly called drawing. I suppressed drawing around the 8th grade because it was time to grow up. This message was greatly reinforced by society - crayons are for children. Two and a half years after the workshop, I am still seeing things differently.

Brian uses many tools as he steers the workshop along its course. One assignment is to copy a pencil sketch upside down in order to confuse the left brain, disallowing its critical nature to interfere with the drawing process. He shows the class numerous examples of negative space that helps us learn to see differently. By seeing negative space, one sees shapes for which the left brain doesn't have symbols. Therefore, the viewer learns to see a reality instead of triggering a stored symbol. This skill allows one to see more fully. There is plenty of drawing mixed in with exercises, interesting lecture, and discussion. The impact of the week is a new perspective.

So, back to my self portrait. Brian took a few minutes to critique each drawing while holding it before the class. As he held my self portrait up for all to see, I could hear the guy that had offered up the stick figure of himself gasp in amazement. Then, Brian, in his gentle manor, asked me to confirm that I had last drawn in about the 8th grade. Seems the symbols that I used for eyes, ears, nose, and other features of the face, were a dead giveaway, indicative of the brain development of a middle schooler. Symbols are a product of the left brain. The right brain just draws what it sees.

After 4 days and a few hours of learning to use my right brain, the workshop repeated the first assignment: Draw your self portrait. This time my drawing was squarely middle of the pack. I was amazed, however, at what I had learned to see and to do in five days.

Magazine article in My American Artist about Bomeisler's workshop with pics and drawings from the session I attended.

1 comment:

Mrs. White said...

Pretty dang cool.