Chapter One - Betty Edwards starts off her chapter with giving an overview of what creativity is, how culturally we have studied it, yet not seem to agree on the definition, how it is taught, or what we can learn from it. Her overarching theme of her book is that everyone can learn to draw, and in doing so, begin to see the world through a different perspective. Her belief that everyone should know how to draw is backed up by the argument that if everyone can read, and we don’t pass along the meme that people who can read are genetically or gifted people. We pass along this socially as a necessary skill. Why don’t we do this with creativity? With drawing? Teaching people to learn how to see their world… practicing the SEEing skills assists in other areas of learning such as with language and arithmetic. She holds that drawing assists one in widening their perceptual skills thereby strengthening visual as much as we do a person’s verbal skills. She concludes these two modes of thinking enhance human potential.
In her second chapter, she postulates that drawing enhances creativity. She reviews the research on LEFT and RIGHT brain thinking. In her overview the left brain thinking has been highly based on linear, logical and language thinking, while the right brain has been devoted to visual, spatial and relational thinking. She maps out how these two spheres have played a role in working together for processing information, necessary for survival. And alludes to a possible reason that creativity is not the norm, as the left brain thinking is more highly passed along, as by her evidence of there are more right-handed people. Yet sees that there could be more of a mental shift to right brained thinking, through practice of learning drawing skills. She shares examples of people who are taking her class with their beginning drawing, and 3 months later with their same self-portrait drawing. The contrast is clear. People who are given the skill set, the basics of learning how to see in drawing, can do so, and state “I’m seeing more now; there’s so much out there that I never noticed before.” Learning how to draw, shifts one’s perception of their world to become conscious of their surroundings, the ordinary parts of life they may have never noticed before. She suggests exercises such as drawing upside down in order to trick the left-side of the brain’s ability to label objects. Or to cover up a specific drawing to eliminate the left side’s tactic of placing a label of what is being drawn.
Edwards outlines chapter 3 with the the 5 stages of creative process she had been researching with 1) first insight, 2) saturation, 3) incubation, 4) illumination, 5) verification, that come from the left mode of the brain. In her practice of creativity, sharing some exercises to help stimulate insight, to increase the brainstorming phase, actually had “shortcomings.” She stated “In fact, truly creative individuals -- people who have been producing creative work -- may or may not do well at tests or exercises in “creative” problem solving.” It was her hopes that some exercises would reduce the verbal or emotional blocks and help increase self-confidence, and promote specific thinking strategies. While they might help some, she saw these as contributing time-consuming mental efforts that had very little payoff. In other words, caused more stress rather than increasing output. She wants to understand how creativity is boosted with drawing and found with increasing drawing skills, a person 1) gives more attention to seeing, yet aware of their cognitive overrides with internal messages. 2) a person’s ability to see metaphorically increases, even when there is an analog thinking embedded-- for example, seeing hair as an ocean wave, enhanced creative thinking. And 3) for a person to be able to work in isolation with the freedom of verbal interruptions, increased ability to see, enhancing perceptual skills. As well as the exercises to trick the left brain from taking over.
I encourage you to buy a copy of Drawing on the Artist Within for a better understanding of your own creative process. Whether you're a master artist or beginning artist, this is an excellent book.
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These are my daily writings for the 100 day project.