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Week 2: Mirror, Mirror…

ANNOUNCEMENT! I will be leading a web-based class from August 16-20 covering the first six weeks of drawing: showing you how to draw through the techniques CC highlights, how to break down art to simple processes, how to try different techniques for those who get frustrated. The cost is $25 for four 1-hour classes. While the live classes will be August 16-20, the recorded classes will be archived in the same place, allowing you to see how drawing is done in “real life”. Speaking as a student of art, I’ve only had a handful of teachers who drew in front of me, and who showed me, step-by-step, how to do a technique. And SEEING how to do something like this made a major difference in how fast I understood something and could add it to my skill set. I hope to see you there, either August 16-20, or later in the semester!

MIRROR IMAGE (aka SYMMETRY)

If week 1 is cramming a semester’s worth of collegiate drawing classes down to a half hour, the second and third weeks are about tricking your brain into slowing down long enough to really LOOK at what you’re doing!

For many years, people who studied the brain talked about being “left-brained”, and “right-brained”, in the belief that certain areas of the brain typically handled certain tasks. Some tasks were normally found in the left hemi-sphere of the brain, such as language centers, logic, and mathematics. The right hemi-sphere held creativity centers, art and music centers, and such. People, therefore, who were more left-brained tended to be more logical, mathematical, word-oriented, task-oriented, and effecient. People who were more right-brained were supposed to be more creative, artistic, and spontaneous.

We now believe that was an over-simplification. Turns out, each brain organizes itself differently–some people’s language centers, for example, are on the left side, some the right, some dispersed between them. We also know we tend to use both sides of the brain to think.

However, the MODES of thinking which first spawned the idea of a left and right brained individual still exist. Betty Edwards, who wrote, “Drawing on the Right Side of Your Brain” calls them the “L-Mode” and the “R-Mode”.

I prefer to think of them as “Local-Logic” and “Global-Gestalt”.

Local-Logic (formerly left-brained) likes things orderly, efficient, and predictable. It loves math for that reason: 4 x 4 will always be 16, a square number. It loves checklists. It loves knowing what comes next. It doesn’t love change, exploration, or multiple possibilities.

To be fair, we NEED Local-Logic. I can’t re-invent math every time I look at it, just in case there’s something new in there. If I did, my checkbook would never balance…or possibly ever get finished! I can’t invent a new meal every time I go in my kitchen, we’d all starve. Without my daily checklists, nothing would get done. This is the “Martha” of the brain, for those familiar with the “Martha-Mary” story of the New Testament.

Global-Gestalt, on the other hand, loves possibilities. It loves to ask, “What if?” and say, “Let’s see what happens.” It loves to invent things, try things, and lose track of time while patiently watching a bird build a nest just to see how they do it, and then later, realize you could borrow that technique to do something else with it.

Like Local-Logic, we NEED Global-Gestalt. Global-Gestalt is how we figure out something new. It’s how art happens, science happens, the new, the different, the weird. IT’s how alternate-history books happen. It’s the “How?” and “Who?” in writing a mystery story. This is “Mary”, losing time listening the Christ, thinking and learning…even as the chances anyone is going to eat tonight falls farther behind…

But…

It’s easier to assess Local-Logic with a test, especially a multiple choice test.

Ask: When was the Declaration of Independence signed? 1066, 1776, 1812, or 1966? And Local-Logic delights in screaming, “1776!” Done! Check! What’s next? And the teacher’s and administrator’s Local-Logic yells back, “CORRECT! We all win! NEXT!”

Now, if you ask: What would have happened if the Declaration had failed in 1776? Now, we wander into the world of possibilities…would the men we call “Founding Fathers” be recorded as traitors? Would the movement have fallen apart? Would it have erupted later as Napoleon threatened Europe? Even asking, “What were the three most significant events leading to the Declaration of Independence?” and you’d have an interesting conversation, as one person’s “important event” would be another person’s “footnote”. This is Gestalt’s arena.

Local-Logic loves brute facts: Who? What? When? Where?

Global-Gestalt loves “Why” and “How?” And answering those questions takes longer, requires deeper thought, and more risk.

In school, multiple choice tests, prep for state tests and college admittance tests mean we constantly reinforce Local-Logic’s mode of thinking. It gets bigger, stronger, more apt to become our “default” way of thinking.

The modern world reinforces speed, effeciency, getting more done in less time, checking things off of our lists, also reinforcing Local-Logic.

And then, Local-Logic becomes a bully, taking over most tasks, while Global-Gestalt sits on the sidelines, swinging its heels.

These next two week are about hamstringing Local-Logic long enough to force it to sit down and let the Global-Gestalt come in and see “how” and “why” in drawing.

This week, we’re tearing symmetrical drawings in half and trying to draw the other half as accurately as possible. But even for the simplest drawings, we still need to slow down.

That’s not just half of a heart. In order to draw the complete heart, I have to draw another, symmetrical half. That means I have to slow down and really look at the half I do have. “How far out does the top line go? When does it curve, and how gentle or sharp is that curve?”

Local-Logic wants to just complete the drawing well enough so any one can say, “It was supposed to be a heart, good enough, we need to go!”

Global-Gestalt, however, needs to be given the reins to say, “That’s a really nice curve…I like how that fits together. I need to change this line slightly to make it fit better…”

And in the process, you’ll slow down long enough to really LOOK at what you’re drawing and how it works. Not how you *think* it works well enough to communicate what you want, but how it really, actually, works.

That’s what these next two weeks are about.

I’ve combined the four scripts into two, and they still retain a lot of last year’s modules. I’ll admit, I find them somewhat lacking somewhere, but I can’t put my finger on where. And since Local-Logic can eventually take Global-Gestalt and say, “there is a point where ‘good enough’ really is better than ‘perfect-but never published’,” I’m going to trust my Local-Logic at this point in the creative process, and publish it for you.

Enjoy! Be sure to like our Facebook page for additional articles, videos, and quotes from authors, as well as subscribe for blog posts as they come!

Have an art question? Ask me! In addition to being an artist myself, I married into an art family, and attend church with several more. If I don’t know the answer, I can find someone who does!

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