Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

The abovementioned book, by Betty Edwards, has sold 14 squillion copies since it first came out back in the seventies. I got it in the mail the other day, the latest of my online purchases where the cost of postage from the States is 10 times the actual book itself. I have approached this book seriously - I want to do this properly, you know? I need to learn to draw properly because it is starting to irritate me seriously, this distinct lack of technique in creative areas. It is humblefying. So. Purchased as requested a piece of A4 sized acetate plastic with crosshairs drawn in the middle. Two viewfinders of differing sizes. All ready to go. But am I going? Nay, I am stopped.

Not doing much of anything creative, really, the last few days. Nothing is very enticing to me. I have to be disciplined to pick up anything, and I can't seem to muster the discipline. Even writing here is a chore, I must say, dear reader. Sometimes, in my darker ambivalent moods towards blogging, and in certain circumstances, it feels to me like something akin to relational masturbation. Here, have a shot in your arm of this person for 5 minutes. Bah. Still, that is in my darkest moods :)

And blogging is blogging. It can't be compared to real life interaction. It's not. It's patently not and it never will be, nor will it ever take the place of it. Blogging is flatpacked, and in its more negative connotations it can be smoke and mirrors. Still, if you don't think too deeply about it (the way I tend to do with everything) and take it for what it is, and don't mistake it for what it isn't, blogging is a blast. I shall return to blast-off at some point in the future, I imagine! Still, it is nice to not feel any compulsion to post here.

It's a tad frustrating, not creating anything. I feel out of my depth and vulnerable. But still, I know I always emotionally blow these periods out of proportion. It always feels like I will never do anything again. That somehow it will all be taken away from me, or something. Strange. But still, I don't quite believe all that. That's just emotion. The desire will return, probably tomorrow.

But really, all of those excuses aside, the real thing that is impeding me from starting this fascinating looking book is fear. Because the first thing I am to draw is a portrait of myself. The before shot. Look, here's ones other people have prepared earlier:


What a difference. Drawing the before shot when you know the after one is going to be a million times better is an exercise in humility. It has me stalling at the moment but it won't keep me away for too long because I am far too desirous to get into the book to let an hour's feeling small stop me. I am fascinated by her description of the process of drawing not so much as mechanical ability as a way of seeing. I think I understand. I tap into that seeing; it makes all the colours intensify. It's just that I haven't tapped into that way of seeing when a pencil is attached to the end of my hand. This is very exciting, new terrain, if I can look past the fear.

Been thinking a lot about looking past certain emotions to see what lies beyond. I suppose in a way it is a strength of mine, although it hasnt been anything so much as a necessity, over the past 10 years. A necessary reminding of gratitudes, to keep me from sinking under. How strange my life appears to myself. Nothing at all the way I would have expected. So much suffering that I am grateful I could not see into the future. But so much learned. Does the learning make the suffering okay? No, it doesn't really do anything to the suffering, it seems to me this evening. It doesn't make it one iota less painful. And yet what is learned through the suffering, as some sort of byproduct, redeems it somehow.

I saw a young woman today, walking ahead of me into Melbourne Central. Long legged, confident, breezy. I was once like that, just with shorter legs :) And I looked at her and thought, next to her I am like a sparrow, insignificant, ageing, a woodwork dweller. And while my ego recoiled at the loss of my feminine powers, my irritating spiritual type voice said, "Well, oooh, what jewels there are in this space. Sit directly squarely in the middle of it." And so I accepted the challenge, and thought about the good benefits of becoming a woodwork dweller, the things that can be gotten away with because no one is taking any notice of you. I thought good things of that young woman who will be facing the same challenges as me 15 years on from now when she is no longer confidently striding through Melbourne Central. I thought about how my face and my body are not anywhere near the most important part about myself. I thought about how if I was ravishingly attractive to everybody I would recoil from the attention anyway. And I thought about how I am much, much more than my physicality. And then I felt peace.

It's the same thing, on and on, over and over. A withdrawal of yourself down, into a space smaller than you would like. A sitting in that space, if you dare, though it is painful enough to catch your breath on the way in, like brambles on your sleeve. But once in, a spying of a new opening, and walking out into a place that is more spacious than the one you originally left. When does it ever end, this crazy journey where you lay things down only to have them handed to you again later, in a completely different life form? And yet the knowing doesn't make the laying down any easier, because the laying down is death. You know. The usual paradoxical suspects :)


  1. we used the blind contour technique from this book during the first couple of weeks of college, and it was so interesting to see those among us who were confident in their drawing skills suddenly finding themselves vulnerable, myself included (though always less confident - hello perfectionism). i love that book, my mum has it as well.
    it is amazing though, what will happen once we put ourselves out there - good things are bound to happen!

  2. Please don't draw on the right side of my brain.... you might gouge me with your pencil!

  3. Fiona - ah, yes, perfectionism. Such a pain in the arse to have around :) I have finally drawn the three pre-instruction drawings you have to do at the start. I put off doing those for over a week because ... well, because of our mutual friend perfectonism :) And boy, the self-portrait was so terribly awful. Still, might post it when I've finished, and my last drawing is heaps better than the first ... hopefully :)

    Tyler - Okay, I will leave your brain alone. But can I mess with your head, though?

  4. Oh darn should have left that one up and just deleted his website so we could mock it here... lol

    Of course, since you have never had an erection, maybe you could use some viagra ;)


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