Upside down Drawing and Contour Drawing

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso

These drawings are based on the book Betty Edwards ‘The new Drawing on the Right side of the Brain’. You must already be familiar with the concept of the two hemispheres of the brain, the left and right sides, working in two radically opposite ways, sometimes co-operating and sometimes ..well… not so co-operating with each other. The left brain is symbolic, linear, logical, rational, breaking things down to analyze whereas the right side is non-verbal, intuitive, playful, holistic, putting things together to make the whole and able to grasp the ‘whole’ at once. In this famous book, the author, Betty Edwards, argues that the act of drawing is and should be altogether an activity of the right brain which deals with the ‘now and factual’ and not of the left brain which is hasty and prone to substitute symbols (of what it is already in possession of) for what it attempts to draw instead of actually seeing what is actually there before it; (for e.g.. make circle shapes for eyes instead of making the curves that it actually sees in front of it) and is the main reason why most people feel they cannot draw well.

I drew the drawing (above image)( took me half an hour to do it) upside down, from top to bottom trying not to be aware of the names of the parts that I was drawing, like, face, legs, chair etc.. I am really amazed of how it turned out. I did not block out the whole form, dimensions etc, I just started from the top with small little lines trying to copy the lines exactly… by the time I reached the hands, however, I couldn´t help thinking that these were the fingers etc. and that´s where the drawing started to go off; but all in all… I am just amazed, the foreshortened leg, as she says, would have been difficult to draw but its come out perfect without even erasing and well.. its a man (a funny looking one, but still) sitting nice and upright in his chair. Here it is, the right side up:

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso, right side up

Inverted Drawing of Portrait of Igor Stravinsky - Pablo Picasso, right side up

This one is contour drawing of the wrinkles of the hand, drawn without looking at what I was drawing. As you can see, I could n´t manage the 5 mins recommended in the book, I kept thinking (the left brain, no doubt), it was a waste of time, I must be scribbling lines all over one another and that nothing would come out of it but again I was amazed. The lines make a really pretty pattern and I did n´t draw any of them over each other and it was rather painfully obvious to me that this spontaneous/somehow whole/ natural-looking  drawing can never be the result of a left-brain activity.

Contour Drawing

Contour Drawing

Naturally, one cannot be drawing upside down nor draw without looking all the time, but I feel these are really beneficial exercises to do and loosen-up and make the shift to the R-mode before actually starting to draw or paint. I usually do experience what she calls the ‘the shift to R-mode’, being alert and focused yet relaxed and happy sometimes even blissful, and not being aware of the time at all, while I am painting but drawing..  I don´t know… especially now, when I am all the time thinking about perspective and anatomy…more left-brained, I gather… that´s why I decided to do this book. A great book, totally worth the time spent on it.

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