Tag Archives: drawing on the right side of the brain

The myth of the Left Brain/Right Brain myth

brainFollowing my live stream about Drawing on the right side of the brain, one of my viewers, Jason Grimm, pointed out that the whole left brain – right brain thing has been proved scientifically to be a myth.

The evidence comes from people sitting in brain scanners. Personally I find the evidence that comes from separated hemispheres – through accidents or surgery – to be a lot more compelling than at-rest brain scans in a clinical environment.

Like particle physics, the reality of the situation depends on how, when and where you experiment – as well as who is doing the experimenting, what tools they are using and what they are looking for – everything is relative.

Scientifically minded Left-brainers in laboratories, by definition, do not entirely understand right-brainers. They are being paid to disprove or belittle the evidence. As they are in charge of the scientific literature, they can decide what they think is a myth and make up whatever alternative myths they wish and spread them through the mediasphere.

Science is the art of making up stories until a new and better sounding plot comes along. Even then, the previous story is often still perfectly valid – as demonstrated by Newtonian and quantum mechanics.

Scientists are human and prone to fit the facts to suit their theories as well as anyone else, especially if there is a large funding cheque involved. Science is an emerging story that needs constant editing and rewriting.

Right-brainers see and experience things that left brainers don’t or can’t, depending on where each of them are placed along the spectrum. Just because the right-brainer can’t provide the data for the left-brainer to analyse, doesn’t mean the data does not exist, it’s just that the measuring system hasn’t yet been devised.

Some creatures see in the ultra violet range. Before we could detect ultra violet it did not exist to science and you would have been called a fool for suggesting it and your ideas would be called a myth.

Just as some creatures see with different parts of the spectrum, different types of people “see” the world quite differently. Science likes to tidy up and compartmentalise, but the human brain doesn’t fit in the box. There isn’t a box large enough! This takes us down the long, deep, dark tunnel of Cartesian Dualism and the Mind-Body problem.

Assuming that you, the person reading this, are not a figment of my imagination and that the Universe actually exists outside of my brain, the Universe still only exists through our own, personal experience of it. As we communicate with each other, our understanding should, eventually, become as one. But that day is a long way away and to get to that point we need all, infinite, points of view to achieve the singularity.

Mathematicians “see” numbers and their relationships and live in a world I do not understand. Dancers “see” the world in terms of movement. Some people “see” language in colour. I know that I “see” things differently to other people. It doesn’t mean that my view is invalid or that my existence is a myth.

If the left/right brain model is a myth, the model still has value. All myths are based on truths and are systems for making complex ideas easier to understand.

The right/left brain story is both compelling and useful to “right-brained” people, who tend to be better visualisers. It gives them a mental model to understand themselves better and cope with thoughts and ideas that left-brained people are blessedly unbothered by.

What we need to do, to aid originality and new ideas, is to develop both sides – right brain, subconscious thinking as well as left brain analytical thinking.

The left brain is dominant and chatters away all day long. To calm it down and reach those ideas and hunches that inspire and lead us to new ideas, there are some activities that help, drawing, walking, exercise, driving, to name a few.

Some of the greatest scientific advances have all started as dreams or hunches in the right hemispheres of mere mortals – apples fell on their heads or they dreamed of snakes biting their tales or ladders twisting into a double helix.

If a myth works for you, go with it and ignore the naysayers. That is the essence of faith that has worked for all human time for both the scientist and the artist alike.

Get a pencil and start making marks – you will slowly be connected to that something in your mind that already knows the answers. I like to call it the right hemisphere of my brain. If it’s a myth, it works for me. You can call it your subconscious or your creative mind, you can even call it Harrold – if it works for you!

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain – Betty Edwards

See my show in which I talk a lot about Drawing on the Right side of the Brain.


images-1I can’t believe that this book came out in 1979. If I’d have known about it then, I would have progressed so much quicker.

I suppose it was about 8 years ago, that I began my own researches into the state of brain science. I’d come to realise that other people didn’t necessarily see the world the same way that I did. I realised that I was a visual thinker, “seeing” things quite clearly that others couldn’t, visualising the future as clear as day, leaving others confused and thinking I was a bit strange.

It was a while before I came across Betty Edwards’ book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. It chimed with everything I’d learned about the brain and with my own experiences.

Like many people who learn about the right side of their brain, I became “pro Right Side”, thinking the left-siders had taken over the world – actually they have! – but Betty Edwards’ book calmed me down and made me realise that the secret is to combine the best of both hemispheres. If you are not visual, you can become more so by learning to draw. Drawing creates a direct link to your creative side.

Switching off the powerful left side for a while, allows connections and creative thoughts to flow. Then you can use the left side to analyse and put your ideas into practice.

Even though I’d been drawing for years, the simple starter exercises were a revelation, mainly because I’d never been through that process. I’d pretty much taught myself to draw as, in my day, art education had become pretty hands off least the student’s natural style was spoiled or over influenced by the teacher – an attitude I don’t agree with. You learn a lot about drawing by seeing how someone else does it and following how they do it, which is why I make my videos.

The search for an individual style and creative expression are is a different pursuit. Drawing is the groundwork and basic tool that leads to and allows style and expression to flourish. Drawing is the language and vocabulary of visual creativity.

The book begins by explaining how the brain works and how it is split in two, with language, maths and analytical abilities on the left and visual and creative abilities on the right.

The lessons and examples that follow, come from many years research and teaching.

If you work at this book and really follow it through, you will really surprise yourself.

I really do think that anyone can learn to draw. There are many different approaches, which is why I wrote my book – Everyone Can Draw – which inspired by the ancient greek mathematician, Euclid, and his “build it from the ground up” or axiomatic method

If you’ve always wanted to draw or have reached a point where you want to get better or just need to remember what drawing is all about, this book will be one of the best investments you ever make.