In this exercise from Betty Edwards Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain we are purposely confusing both sides of our brain.
The left is going to want to use words to describe what we are drawing (mouth, nose, lips) while the right is going to want to be more visual. It’s jarring.
The exercise goes like this (do the opposite if you are left handed)
1. Draw a face on the left handed side of a piece of paper.
2. Draw horizontal lines along the top and bottom.
3. Now, take your pencil and slowly go back over the face profile you have just drawn naming the parts like this: “Forehead…nose…upper lip…lower lip…chin…neck.” This is kicking in the left hand side of the brain (the war is about to start).
4. Then go to the other side and start to draw the face profile.
5. When you get to around the forehead or nose, you may experience some mental confusion.
6. Purpose of this exercise is for you to self-observe: “How do I solve this problem.”
Why would we want to do this?
This is a great exercise because it sets up conflict between the left and right hand side of the brain.
The left likes words (nose, chin, these things I can label and draw because I know what they look like).
The right however despises language. It simple wants to draw. So it studies line, form, spacing, and ignore the language side.
Except we trick our brains into using the left by repeating the words as we draw them. Hence the conflict.
The purpose of this exercise is to get you, the drawer, to realize there is conflict (acknowledge it’s there) and then in the follow up exercises show you how to deal with it.
In the next exercise, turning the picture upside down, we will see how we can quiet our left brain, while engaging the right.
For more information on drawing, and a great book on learning, check out Betty Edwards book which I am currently working through.