Did you find this exercise difficult? It may surprise you to learn that most people do. That's because the naming of the parts of the profile while drawing gets us thinking on the logical left, the side of the brain that likes to name and organize everything. It thinks it has it all figured out: The forehead, eyes, nose, lips, and chin make a profile.
Repeating the names after you drew the horizontal lines on the top and bottom of the profile reinforces the left brain: Yes, that was it—forehead, eyes, nose, lips, and chin, a profile, all right—even with the lines!
Next, the quick switch to drawing the opposite, mirror-image profile is a problem. The logical left is confused by the task of repeating the profile backwards. This is a task that requires sensitivity to shapes and relationships, something the logical left is simply not good at. The profile is not the same as the other side; in fact, you may have found it difficult to draw it
at all. Plus, the vase isn't even symmetrical—something that strikes horror into the heart of the left brain (if it had a heart!).
You may have tried a tactic or two to complete the profile and make the vase symmetrical. If that's the case, how did you do it? Were you confused? Did you settle for a profile that was different? That would be letting the left side stay in charge of the profile, but the vase would end up asymmetrical.
Did you ignore the names for the parts and concentrate on the shapes? Did you concentrate on the vase and try to make the line symmetrical with the first side? Did you measure or mark the curves or relationships between the curves? Did you start in the middle or at the bottom and work backwards? Any of these solutions would have been right-brain approaches to the problem, paying attention to the visual and not what you thought you knew.
All right, we admit it: Your first drawing was a set-up, purposely a "left brainer," full of identification and names. To match it on the other, right side required a switch to the visual, to see the shapes instead of the names. Drawing is easiest when you think the least, and just see the shapes, without naming them.
The first profile is conceptual and imaginary, drawn from memory, but naming the parts makes it a left-brain activity. To really draw as you see, you must be able to make a perceptual or relational drawing, a right-brain activity. In order to match the shapes, relationships, and curves on the second side and make the vase symmetrical, you must focus your eyes and mind on the first profile in order to draw the second—and chances are, your left brain wouldn't let you do that.
What this exercise asked you to do was make a shift mentally from your normal cognitive function— the left side—that named all the pieces, to the visual side—the right side—that cares about the shapes and the relationship between them. That's because the nonverbal right is better suited for the business of seeing than the linguistic left.
The left profile, the first one drawn, corresponds to the left side of the brain; the right profile, the one copied, draws on the right side of the brain.
The ability to switch modes of brain function is the ability to see differently. Once you master this switching, you'll find that it's very handy for all sorts of problem solving in your daily existence!
Student samples of the exercise drawn right-handed and left-handed
The numbers indicate the order in which each profile was drawn.
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