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How we can be influenced by our emotions when drawing Clarks

3 February, 2013



When practicing how to draw a face you need to you should know how our emotions can subconsciously influence us.

The backdrop to this follows on from the 1960’s when Roger Sperry was honoured with the Nobel Prize for his endeavors 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 work completely independently of the other half but in different kinds of ways.

In her book “Drawing on the right side of the brain” back in the 1970’s Betty Edwards, was a highly regarded teacher of art and an outstanding artist, struggled to make sense of why it was that some of her students found it so much more problematic than the ones who came to understand the next level.

Were they unable to clearly see what was immediately in front of them ?. When the eyecatching errors were pointed out the students admitted she was right but didn’t understand why they drew things wrong. It wasn’t that they were not trying, both she and the students were all really working very hard nevertheless it appeared to be a mammoth struggle. She observed that when the ones that seemed to get it, 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, what the difference was, 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 the problem with drawing a variety of subjects is just the lack of true observation that some of us have problems with. We all too often 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 finally what is the answer to all this ?. We have to endeavour to do our drawings by making a point of making a choice to learn how to consciously switch to the right half of the brain when drawing. A quote by Henri Matisse that I found in Betty Edwards book 1979 “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 18 2011 11:07 am | Uncategorized



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