Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Class That Made it Right

        
Day One Self-Portrait
   
Day Five Self-Portrait
One class can change your perception of everything. That's what happen to me after attending the five day intensive class, Draw From the Right Side of the Brain. The class born from Betty Edwards' book of the same name proclaims that anyone can learn to draw just like anyone can learn to read or write. Like many people, I thought that you were either born with artistic talent or you were not; that artists like van Gogh and Rembrandt were naturals; that it was so much easier for them than people like me who liked drawing but found it too hard to do it right. 

For five consecutive days, eight of us 'non-natural' artists learned to draw by quieting our left brain hemispheres and seeing with our right brains. I won't write about Edwards' theory because I'm not qualified to do so. What I can tell you is, all of us who attended the class claimed up front that we were all very bad drawers or couldn't draw at all but wanted to learn. By the third day we proved what thousands of other attendees had previously learned, that drawing 'good' can be learned.

Pictured above are my two pencil drawn self-portraits; one from the first day of class and the second from the last day. Remarkable! I was and am still amazed at the marked improvement that all of us made in such a short time frame. Was it hard? Yes. Did it take a lot of discipline to stay in my seat and not run screaming from the little art studio that held the class? Hell, yes! (Of course, I now know that from a Neuroscience point of view, that was the left hemisphere talking.) But I stayed and as is always the case, the benefits greatly outweighed the struggle. I am seeing in a different way: my perceptions are enhanced and changed. I can see the entire space; the negative and positive. I can directly apply the lessons learned in the class to all problems applying right brain creative solutions. As Edwards writes, "The larger underlying purpose was always to bring right hemisphere functions into focus and to teach readers how to see in new ways, with hopes that they would discover how to transfer perceptual skills to thinking and problem solving." So now, instead of focusing on the problem I can look around it. I can literally turn the problem upside down just as we did when we drew Picasso's famous drawing of Stravinsky upside down.

The class, taught by Edwards' son, Brian Bomeisler was not cheap but taking into consideration that the class compressed approximately three semesters of art school into five days, I'd say that it was a bargain. If you can't or don't want to attend the intensive class, get one of Edwards' books and start seeing things in an entirely new way. Even if you don't want to draw, you'll learn how to quite that noisy, always talking left brain hemisphere and access more of your right brain where the "natural" creative in all of us lives.