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  • Writer's pictureAlessia Stokes

"Half a brain is better than none: A whole brain would be better."

Updated: Feb 13, 2021

"Drawing is a curious process, so intertwined with seeing that the two can hardly be separated...While nearly everyone learns to ride a bicycle, many individuals never solve the problem of drawing. To put it more precisely, most people never learn to see well enough to draw." (Betty Edwards, 2001, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain).

Betty Edwards is a well respected voice in the art community. Her work with "neuropsychologist and neurobiologist at CalTech" Dr. Roger W. Sperry, (1913-1994), lead to her book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" in 1979. It has since been updated three times as new information about the brain has been discovered. The methods that she developed have been used by art teachers to further benefit their students and artists to improve their skills.

As I mentioned in my last blog, anyone can be creative. Drawing really is a skill like learning to read. Knowing how to shush the left brain and train the right to improve in its observation and its link to how we "see", along with practice, allows anyone to draw and open other avenues of creativity.

Most of us without realising it, generally use our left brains a tad more than the right side. Understandably so, they are logical, rational, vocal and time efficient. Sadly, highly praised through the schooling system and in life, and let's face it, most people want their kids to be doctors, lawyers, accountants...not many long for artist, musician and that dreaded! Right brains are those non-verbal, intuitive, analogic beings that let us dream, create and have that "gut" feeling we cannot explain but "just know" is right.

Most children really enjoy drawing, colouring and creating. Their imagination, if bottled, would blow our minds. That is a beautiful glimpse into the possibilities of a free right brain, before the bully from the left takes it's rigid index finger and pops the colourful bubbles of it's verbally silent sister. "The majority of adults in the Western world do not progress in art skills beyond the level of development they reach at age nine and ten...Children often abandon art as an expressive activity for another unfortunately frequent reason. Unthinking people sometimes make sarcastic or derogatory remarks about children's art" (BE, 2001)

If that has been your experience, take heart! Just as you had to learn to read, you too CAN learn to draw. Surprisingly by following five steps, you can shush that voice...the one on the left. These are the steps as outlined by Betty Edwards:

Seeing and drawing;

1) Edges (sometimes called “contour drawing”)

2) Spaces (called “negative spaces”)

3) Relationships (called “perspective and proportion”)

4) Lights and shadows (called “shading”)

5) The whole (called the gestalt, the “thing itself,” the essential nature of the observed subject)

You may now be asking; "how on earth do I do the above?" Fear not! I have attached some fabulous resources below to help you in your quest to use "your whole brain."

Until next time...

Resources to delve deeper:


  • The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain - Betty Edwards, 2001

  • The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook - Betty Edwards, 2002


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