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How we can be influenced by our emotions when drawing Catherines

26 July, 2012



In this brief internet article it is my goal to point out when learning how to draw a face how we can subconsciously be influenced by our emotions.

The history to this follows on from the 1960’s when Roger Sperry was given the Nobel Prize for his development on split-brain experiments. This has been responsible for our understanding of how the two halves of the brain communicate both with each and also how they perform completely independently of the other half but in completely different ways.

In her book “Drawing on the right side of the brain” back in the 1970’s Betty Edwards, an accomplished artist and well respected teacher, spoke of wanting to understanding why some of her students found drawing so easy while others just didn’t seem to get it.

Were they unable to clearly see what was immediately in front of them ?. When the observable errors were pointed out the students acknowledged she was right but didn’t understand why they drew things wrong. It could not be said that the students were not making every effort to suceed, both she and the students were all really working very hard however it was a huge uphill battle. She observed It was interesting to Betty that for those students who made the connection that they did so all of a sudden rather than gradually making improvements. When she questioned these students what is was that they finally understood, they were unable to tell her, in what way it was different, only that it just made sense now.

Betty was constantly observing and working to understand it when one day she made a discovery that she referred to as a Ah-Ha light-bulb moment. She gave her students a task to draw a Picasso picture that was upside down. Everyone was amazed how good the results were and she asked them how is it they could draw better upside than the right way up. The answer was, when the painting was upside down it made no sense to them, so they had to draw what they “saw”. So this was the discovery, when they could see things normally their mind was influenced by their past memories and an accumulation of various experiences and stored images all heavily influenced with emotions attached at the time. However with the painting upside down not making sense, they were forced to draw exactly what they saw without any interference from preconceived ideas.

I think part of the difficulty with drawing a whole range of objects or different subjects is just the lack of true observation that some of us have problems with. We frequently tend to look at things holistically and only get an overall view that fits into our own mind map of previously acquired perceptions.

The brain begins life as an organ with certain pre-installed understandings that are quite general in nature. It is also filled with incomplete patterns that are crying out to be completed in its attempt to make sense of our surroundings. To prove the point I’m making, If you were to focus on any random splatter for a period of time, gradually in an effort to make sense of it, your brain will somehow complete the pattern and then you will see an image emerge of something identifiable that you could not see before.

So what is the solution ?. We have to try to do our drawings by making a point of making a choice to swap over from our left brain thinking and deliberately engage the right half. The following quotation from a French artist born in 1869 Henri Matisse emphasises the point “When I eat a tomato I look at it the way anyone else would. But when I paint a tomato, then I see it differently.”

Learn the secrets of how to draw a face

June 03 2011 08:21 pm | Uncategorized



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