Juan Uys

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain


Some starter notes on Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

The book will gradually cover the five perceptual skills of drawing: the perception of

  • edges (chapter 6)
  • spaces (chapter 7)
  • relationships (perspective and proportion)
  • lights and shadows (shading)
  • the whole (gestalt)

The first 90 pages talks about the brain, biases, childhood, and makes a point by getting the reader to draw something from an upside-down reference: because you draw what you saw, and not what you thought you saw (i.e. face, eye, ear), you ended up surprising yourself with a better drawing. We’re inching closer to the way the artist “sees”.

We then start getting into the instruction where one of the exercises is to draw your fist, but without looking at the paper as you draw. This is called pure contour drawing, and hence the first lesson:

pure contour drawing has introduced you to the first component skill of drawing: the perception of edges

In drawing, and edge is always a shared boundary, i.e. where two things come together.

What is drawing? Simply, copying what you see. Or not so simply, copying the 3D image behind the imaginary “picture plane” (like a glass window) on the plane in 2D, so you’re copying what you see on the “plane” on flat drawing paper.

After drawing a bunch of pictures of our non-drawing hand to get the edges nailed down, we next look at (negative) space.

The trick is to correctly size your first shape (aka “basic unit”) as it controls the subsequent sizes of everything else on the canvas. You might use your hands or pencil as a viewfinder.

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