Right Side Drawings

Monday, 20th December 2004
Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

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With my two new Sushi Sketchbooks in the shops I can do what I like today. How about drawing?

I pick up Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain again. This is a good opportunity to continue with my ambition to not only read the book but to do every exercise that Betty Edwards suggests.

I'm looking forward to this next set of exercises because in modified contour drawing you are allowed to look at the paper (for the blind contour drawings that I did on Friday you're not allowed to peek). You're still expected to spend 90% of the time looking at the subject.

For this 30 minute drawing it was important not to start with the main outline of the hand. Drawing it is more like doing a jigsaw: I go from one small interlocking shape to the next and try to avoid any forms for which the left side of my brain might have a handy symbol such as 'fingernail' or 'finger'.

Must cut those fingernails!


Cone, 30 minutes

The temptation might be to sketch in a spiral grid for the cone, and then fill in the details but this too was drawn in jigsaw fashion: I started at the top and related each shape to its neighbours.

Each shape is individual; despite first appearances this isn't made of identical components, like blocks of Lego.


Brown paper bag, 20 minutes

In case you're wondering, it contained three satsumas, one of which I ate after completing the drawing.


Whisk, 30 minutes

Betty Edwards includes a student drawing of a whisk as an example of the item of kitchen equipment which she asks you to draw next. It struck me as being a particularly tricky subject to draw, with those gently curving forms interlocking in perspective but, once you've got into the habit of observing the winglike shapes between the curves it's much easier to sort out.


Foot, 20 minutes

Well, it's a change from hands.

I put my foot on a cushion on a stool but it was still awkward to draw as the heel was in shadow and also disappearing behind my drawing board. You can see that at first I underestimated the size of the heel - which annoyed me - but I just drew it in again. I think that leaving in the first attempt adds something to the liveliness of the drawing.

Negative Shapes

athletesstarfishTo emphasise the importance of observing negative shapes Betty Edwards suggests these exercises.

She asks you to draw the starfish (right) on white paper, then cut out the negative shapes and reassemble them (here on black paper). You've discarded the starfish you've drawn, but, there it is: you've reconstructed it simply from the negative shapes around it.

corkscrewThe athletes are drawn from an internet sport photograph. I've shaded in some of the shapes I drew - including a batlike shape and a penguin-like shape. I tried hard not to draw the shapes of the figures themselves. They've ended up a looking rather odd, for instance, I'm not sure what happened to the central figure's head, but concentrating on the negative shapes has given the group, dare I say it, in the context of such a wobbly sketch, a Matisse-like rhythm.

Having learnt to see these negative shapes, even a tricky mechanical subject, like this corkscrew, shouldn't prove too difficult.


Viewfinder Drawings


These drawings were made using a viewfinder: a piece of paper with a rectangle an inch or two across cut in it in the same proportions as the paper I was drawing on. The viewfinder frame makes the negative spaces bounding the objects easier to see; for instance in the drawing of the office chair (left) the top left corner can be seen as having definite boundaries, like the corner piece of a jigsaw puzzle.

I ran into a bit of difficulty with the poinsettia (right); I drew each side of the plant as carefully as I could but when I came to the middle I realised that the plant had come out too wide. I put this down partly to my shaky hand holding the viewfinder and partly to working with both eyes open and so getting two slightly differing views of the subject. Next Page


Richard Bell, richard@willowisland.co.uk

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