“The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, the rational mind a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” ~Albert Einstein.
Fall is a busy time but also a great time to slow down and notice the changes around us. In our culture of competition and achievement today, faster is better. Fast food, fast delivery, fast internet, fast answers, fast judgments, fast track and accelerated learning are the norm. Our brains are wired for fast. We have two sides to our brain but the verbal, analytical left-side will often take over the perceptual, creative, artistic right-side, especially if that is the only side being stimulated. Developing the right side is important though, to integrated learning. Children especially seem to have an insatiable appetite for fast instant stimulation but every parent knows that point of over stimulation and the value of quiet time. Studies confirm that the brain has plasticity, slowing down and looking at things differently develops new connections in the brain. Drawing helps me to slow down and remember to take the time to really see the beauty in things . It shuts off the chatter of the left side of the brain to get into that “zone” of being in the present moment which helps to process problems, emotions and relationships in a better way.
“Drawing used to be a civilized thing to do, like reading and writing. It was taught in elementary schools. It was democratic. It was a boon to happiness.” ~ From a July 19, 2006, New York Times Article by Author and Art Critic, Michael Kimmelman.
Schools are not only eliminating drawing but some are not even teaching cursive writing and many are taking out times to give that left-side of the brain a break, pushing students to achieve more to perform well on standardized tests. Throughout history, writing and drawing have been a way to communicate and express ourselves. Cave painting proceeded written communication by more than twenty-five thousand years and then pictures formed the first written words. I don’t want to eliminate technology and welcome it in our schools but I worry that all of this rushing and eliminating things will have consequences to our ability to creatively problem solve. They may be fundamental to the brains development , we humans are they only creatures on Earth that have a written language and make images of the things we see in our world. Maybe it’s our way of processing all of this input we are bombarded with and applying it to problem solve in seemingly unrelated areas. Brain plasticity also means that If the connections in the brain are not used they are lost.
I have seen, first hand, that everyone can learn to draw, it is a skill not a talent and is the best method for perceptual training which impacts learning in all other disciplines. The key is to slow down and really see, not assume what our bossy left brain wants us to believe so it can quickly categorize and move on, that pumpkins are orange, leaves are green or all a certain shape. When we take the time we notice the different colors of Fall leaves and that there are pink, yellow, white and green pumpkins of every shape and size. Betty Edwards in “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain”, has exercises that fool the left side into rejecting a problem and taking a back-seat to the right-side, for example, by drawing a complex image up-side down. When something is up-side down, the left side can’t name the parts so it soon gets bored and the right side can perceive the shapes . Students are amazed at their ability to draw such a complex image. Seeing the relationship of shapes is a fundamental drawing skill that will strengthen visual perception. So slow down, “trick” your left brain and “treat” your right brain with some visual stimulation this Fall and expand your seeing, thinking and happiness.
Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher/Penguin, 2012.