This week’s hands-on exercise will be the exploration of a basic drawing techniq
This week’s hands-on exercise will be the exploration of a basic drawing technique that has been adapted from Betty Edward’s seminal textbook, “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.” This book is an excellent treatise on pragmatic drawing issues and how the brain, hand and eye interact and influence visual perception. One of the main thrusts of this book is that we tend to pre-visualize the world by trafficking in a network of visual symbols that help us to organize and function in a world of infinite visual information. In our mind this “symbolic network” indicates that a hand looks like: Or that an eye looks like (also known as the hairy football): Or, a house looks like: On the first or second day of the drawing class that I’ve taught for a number of years, we play the game of Pictionary in class. (Pictionary is a drawing game in which quick symbolic drawings function as a clue to what a secret word is. It is very much like charades, except you use a pen.) This game functions not only as a “get to know each other” exercise, but to underscore the fact that we all carry within us basic symbols about our world, and that these symbols don’t vary much from person to person. In actuality, a hand or an eye or a house looks nothing like these symbols, and our ability to look at the visual world in front of us and to scrutinize what things actually look like is the first step towards drawing naturalistically. Edwards refers to this process as “defeating the symbolic network.” The following exercise is designed to force you to see what is actually in front of you, and defeat your symbolic network. In doing so it is possible to produce astonishing results. Please thoroughly read and understand the following directions before attempting this exercise. From your Custom Deluxe Art Material Mailer™ you will need the 11 x 14 inch Xerox of Picasso’s 1920 drawing of Igor Stravinsky, a piece of 11 x 14 inch drawing paper, another piece of 11 x 14 inch paper to be used as a mask, and the 4B drawing pencil. Turn your copy of the Picasso drawing upside down. You will be copying the upside down image. Your drawing, therefore, will be done upside down also. It is critical that you copy the drawing exactly as you see it. Find a quiet place to draw where no one will interrupt you. You may listen to music, and might also want to set a timer so you don’t have to worry about how long you’ve been drawing. Do not turn the drawing right side up until after you have finished. Look at the upside down drawing for a minute. Regard the angles, shapes and lines. You can see that the lines all fit together. Where one line ends, another starts. The lines lie at certain angles in relation to each other and in relation to the edges of the paper. Curved lines fit into certain spaces. The lines in fact form the edges of the spaces, and you can look at the shapes of the spaces within the lines. Now take your 11 x 14 piece of paper and cover up the majority of the upside down Xerox, exposing only a couple of inches of the upside-down head of the subject. Closely study the lines that are exposed, and how they interrelate to each other. Start drawing at the bottom of your drawing paper and copy each line, moving from line to adjacent line, putting it all together just like a jigsaw puzzle. Do not think about names of body parts or objects - this will only get in the way of your drawing and trick you into thinking about symbols, and not about what’s exactly in front of you. As you draw continue to think to yourself, “Well, this line curves that way; this line crosses over, making that little shape there; this line is at that angle, compared to the edge of the paper.” And so on. Work your way through the drawing by moving from line to line, part to adjacent part, exposing more of the upside down Xerox as you go along. As you go further along, you will find yourself becoming very interested in how lines go together and time will fly by. If a line that you’ve drawn is wrong, simply erase and redraw. Remember that everything you need to know in order to draw the image is right in front of your eyes. Do not make things up. If there are five lines parallel to each other of a certain size and shape and thickness, simply draw those lines and don’t add anything. Once you have finished, turn your drawing right side up, and you’ll probably be amazed at how well the drawing came out. If you’re not satisfied with the results, persevere and redo the assignment. Your drawing will be graded on: Accurate placement of lines - up to 10 points Accurate proportion - up to 10 points Overall effect - up to 5 points These criteria must be followed: Your image must be large, well lit, and in focus. This image is what I am to evaluate your work, so you should present it well. Your image must be saved as a JPEG file, or it will not upload. Your image/file must be uploaded to the assignment page before the deadline.

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