In my youth– and I really mean youth, as in teenage years– I loved to draw. I did some acrylic painting too. At one point I actually thought about art school. In the end, I chose a general education. I doubt I could have done much as an artist. I was young. I wasn’t talented. I knew very little about anything. But I did know that I enjoyed it.
As any of the readers of this blog know, I have picked up Japanese calligraphy in the last few years. Same with writing. Both are often pretty hit-or-miss, but that’s OK. I’m enjoying it. They are creative outlets. This got me to thinking about drawing again. In fact, I overly-ambitiously thought I might write a graphic novel (a comic book, doncherknow). That’s probably a lot further out of reach than I thought, but I still want to pick up a pencil again. A couple months back I even drew a couple of political cartoons, and bought a book on manga drawing. The results were OK, mostly because I just copied what others had drawn.
Then I remembered another book. My high school years were in the early eighties, just when this pretty mind-blowing book was published, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards, which my high school art teacher used in class. There were practical exercises, and examples of how students had gone from childish cartoony drawings to some pretty amazing works… in just a week. I just recently went out and bought the book.
Below is an exercise. You draw an upside down picture. This helps you see the shapes, not the objects. In other words, when you think “Stravinsky” you see a person, suit, eyeglasses, hands. But if it’s upside down then you see curves, lines, space, ratios. Below is the second lesson in the book. You copy a line drawing that Picasso drew of Igor Stravinsky, upside down.
And further below is my attempt.
OK, sure. But how do they look right side up?
Meh, not bad I suppose, for a guy who hasn’t drawn in thirty years. Any flaws, I’m sure, are mine. Any success I’m sure I should thank Betty Edwards.