So to start the new year, I've borrowed a book from the library by Betty Edwards called "Drawing on the Artist Within". I've already worked through her other brilliant book "Drawing on the right side of the brain" and have dipped in and out of her book on colour theory. This book is less practical than her first book and delves much deeper into the theory of what happens to your brain and mind when you enter a creative mode or right brained mode. It's super interesting and she uses a lot of research from various philosophers, scientists and psychologists to try to explain how creative people think and how to awaken your own creative consciousness.
So to get back into the drawing mood, I've done a couple of simple exercises she recommends just to practise getting into that creative Right Brained mode. I've copied two drawings from her book - the first :"Study of a nude" by Rubens and the second a drawing by Matisse. The drawings in the book were upside down and I drew them upside down - essentially drawing them following the lines and shapes without knowing what I was drawing. The drawing above is my upside down Rubens.
Above left is the original Rubens right way up and above right is my upside down drawing turned right way up. It always kills me doing these exercises because I don't generally draw figures or portraits and I actually have real difficulties with proportion when drawing people, so it's actually subject matter I usually shy away from drawing.. but when I do these upside down drawings, the proportions seem mostly accurate and it looks like I've been studying figure drawing for years and years !! As Betty Edwards quotes from philosopher Michael Polanyi "We know more than we know we know." We all know proportions in drawing and we all know what bodies look like, it's just a matter of tapping into this knowledge and to be able to draw what you perceive, not what you think.
A similar upside down activity with the Matisse drawing (above).
Sacha Grossel is a practising Visual Artist from Australia.