Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: exercise 3

The premise of this week's exercise is going to seem a bit like some kind of artist hazing ritual, but I promise there will be no incriminating photographs. This is a copying exercise, which is a long standing and honorable learning technique that makes everyone a little nervous in the day and age of twitchily litigious copyright law. Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain gives the classic 'copy this great work in order to learn how it was done' assignment a little... twist.

Yes. You are supposed to look at the image upside down, and copy it as-is. No turning it over before you're done.

That tiny screaming sound in your head? That's your left brain going 'Nooooooooo!' Which is the point. You want your left brain to get so frustrated with the task that it fucks off to go get coffee and lets your right brain do the job.

Edwards suggests that you make a conscious effort not to recognize any parts of the drawing as you are copying them. (No 'okay, finished the collar, time for the head'. Just adjacent lines.) She also recommends that you begin at one edge and work your way across, rather than outlining and filling in.

Here's my attempt.



Though I tried, I did not entirely succeed in telling my left brain to sit down and shut up. Occasionally I could not help but know the parts as I was drawing them. (Part of the skill I have developed as an artist is to recognize familiar shapes regardless of their orientation, so a noob would probably find this exercise easier than I did.)

Interestingly, when I did flip both pictures over, the best parts were the ones that I copied 'on faith', with no idea of what I was describing. Which I suppose proves Edward's point.

Just for comparison, here's the original and mine in a more easily analyzed orientation.



The art is A Portrait of Igor Stravinsky, by Pablo Picasso. But really any reasonably complex line drawing will work if you'd like to try the exercise with something different.