What I mean by ‘learning to see’
Today I bought a book called ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’. Drawing has been occupying mythoughts more the last few days while I haven’t been painting. I stopped in the bookshop and saw this book,and was reminded of something I came across yesterday about right brain and left brain thinking when I was writing aboutleft eye – right eye differences.
You know, connections…
So I bought the book. All I’ve read so far is the introduction, which I always do first, that’s my left brain makes meread booksthat way. This book postulates that drawing is a ‘right brain’ activity, and that anyone can learn todraw well if they follow the series of exercises designed to shift you into right brain thinking mode. So you knowthis book has got to come from the US. But actually I’ve always thought that anyone could be taught to draw and paint,to a level that satisfied and even surprised them anyway.
The introduction finished with a note which is particularly relevant to what I’m doing, and ultimately what this site is about.The author, Betty Edwards, puts it way better than I could:
“One further complication of seeing needs mentioning. The eyes gather visual information by constantly scanningthe environment. But visual data from “out there”, gathered by sight, is not the end of the story. At least part, or perhapsmuch, of what we see is changed, interpreted, or conceptualized in ways that depend on a person’s training, mind-set, andpast experiences. We tend to see what we expect to see or what we decide we have seen. This expectation or decision, however,often is not a conscious process. Instead, the brain frequently does the expecting and the deciding, without our consciousawareness, and then alters or rearranges – or even simply disregards – the raw data of vision that hits the retina. Learningperception through drawing seems to change this process and to allow a different, more direct form of seeing. The brain’sediting is somehow put on hold, thereby permitting one to see more fully and perhaps more realistically.
This experience is often moving and deeply affecting. My students’ most frequent comments after learningto draw are “Life seems so much richer now” and “I didn’t realise how much there is to see and how beautiful things are.”This new way of seeing alone may be reason enough to learn how to draw.”
So I’ve built my project around a mere complication of the drawing (and painting) process. Hmmm. I do feel kind of vindicatedby that though. If learning to see is in itself a good enough reason to learn to draw, then it’s good enough for me.
Posted 29th November 2005
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