Friday, November 22, 2013

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

As much as I've learned about my children as a homeschooling parent, I've learned even more about myself. Many of the subjects that I felt concern about teaching have been the ones that ended up being the most enjoyable. Other subjects that I thought should come easily tended to be continually put off until "next week".

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but Art class was the chief neglected subject. Starting out, I had no doubt that my children would love art because I'd automatically be able to transfer my love of it to them. Unfortunately, I was sadly mistaken. I couldn't figure out how to explain to them what to do and present it in a way that cultivated a creative atmosphere.

Carpenter, 1880 and Woman Mourning, 1882
Van Gogh spent two years teaching himself how to draw


Last month, I happened to pick up Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards from our library. I was fascinated by her discussion of the differences between the two sides of the brain. I've always thought of myself as very left-brained; definitely not the super creative, flighty artistic stereotype. But I discovered that I'm much more right-brained than I'd thought. I happen to suffer from what I call directional dyslexia (I gesture right when I mean left, and vice versa), I have intense spatial awareness, and I often have trouble hitting on the right word for things, picturing it my head without being able to name it. That might just be early onset senility but it also indicates a strong right brain disposition.

Although it was nice to discover these things about myself, as I kept reading, I also learned how to break down the psuedo-instinctive processes that occur when I draw alone. Ms. Edwards verbalizes (an almost impossible task for the right side of the brain) and simplifies the process of drawing to demonstrate how to access that creative, visual right side. Her premise is that not only can everyone learn to draw but that drawing itself facilitates better thinking overall. Tapping into the right side of the brain allows an individual to access the part of the mind that is especially able to see patterns and make connections, leading to more thoughtful problem solving and creative thinking.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to transfers these realizations into my art classes with my children. Instead of just praying that one of my kids is artistically gifted, I'm going to assume that they all have some ability and try to foster and encourage it. And even if they don't become artists in the professional sense, I hope that having learned to appreciate their right brain characteristics, they'll live better and more creative lives all around. 

Fingers crossed, everyone! I'll try to post again on this at the end of the school year 
and let you know if the experiment was a success.

Happy Weekend!


  1. This is an interesting post. I honestly don't know if I am left or right brained. I also don't remember which is which. That being said, I'd love to hear more about your art curriculum, we have one who really loves creating whether on paper or with blocks or legos or whatever, but not sure what formal elements to include.

  2. ALISSA! I can't believe you are neglecting art class! I obviously need to yell at you more. Anyway I am always free to come over and do an art class with all the kids, it could either be awesome or could be one of the circles of hell. We'll have to try it to find out. -Grace


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