As shown in this article, The Guardian: Why Drawing Needs to be a Curriculum Essential, it appears that the British are far ahead of the United States in recognizing the value of teaching children how to draw—not to produce artists but to improve thinking and problem-solving.
In the article, the author Anita Taylor, says:
“As a primary visual language, essential for communication and expression, drawing is as important as the development of written and verbal skills. The need to understand the world through visual means would seem more acute than ever; images transcend the barriers of language, and enhance communications in an increasingly globalized world.”
My own lifelong ambition is to see drawing reinstated in our schools, from early education on—to teach our children the twin skills of reading and drawing to improve both reading comprehension and creative problem solving. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject! Just leave a comment or question below.
~ Betty Edwards
Happy St. Patrick’s Day! It’s your lucky day! To celebrate, take 17% off anything in the DRSB Store, today and for the next week, through Sunday, March 24, 2019. Have you been thinking about learning to draw? Do you need drawing materials and tools, designed by Betty Edwards? Here’s a chance to purchase the DRSB Artist's Portfolio, usually $129.99 but only $107.89 (+ tax & shipping) during this special St. Paddy’s Day sale! Or how about the two-hour DRSB Video with Betty Edwards herself teaching the seven core lessons of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain? Usually $35, it is only $29.05 (+ tax & shipping) during this special sale from March 17 to 24, 2019. Click here and start shopping! Just use the code LUCKY when checking out from the DRSB Store.
In the 19th and early 20th century, book cover design reached its zenith. For pure pleasure, look at these gorgeous book covers! The Art of Book Covers: 1820-1914
Anyone who loves visual literacy will appreciate the creativity and originality of these works of art. “A totally new artistic space was opened up. … illustrators and designers flourished, producing a range of covers as eclectic in aesthetic approach as the myriad contents they fronted.” I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!
~ Betty Edwards
When my granddaughters, Sophie and Francesca, were seven and five years old, my daughter Anne and I spent many afternoons with the girls conducting “Play School.” We spent hours on cursive writing—the alphabet, the girls’ names, and the old-fashioned exercises of lines of large linked circles and slanted vertical lines. They loved it and the lessons stayed with them right through their school years.
Today, the girls—now 17 and 19—have beautiful, readable handwriting. But according to the letter here, In Defense of Cursive!, written by Maine House of Representatives Heidi Sampson, perhaps those afternoon lessons had other positive effects. Representative Sampson is not just writing letters to editors. She is introducing legislation to restore cursive writing to Maine’s elementary schools.
We salute the efforts in Maine to bring cursive writing back to schools, and we hope that every state will follow suit!
~ Betty Edwards
Many of our readers have asked me for a full-palette list of recommended pigments. A visit to an art supply store can confront a beginning painter with a daunting array of hundreds of tubes of paint, whether acrylic, oil, or watercolor, some with alluring names like “Horizon Blue” or “Rose Pink.” Resist the temptation! Below is a list of basic pigments that will provide you a full range of pigments to use in mixtures or as pure hues.
If you’re just beginning to paint, you might decide to start with a very limited palette, say, with Cadmium Yellow Medium, Cadmium Red Medium, Ultramarine Blue, Mars Black, and Titanium White. Then, as you see the need for an expanded palette, you can start adding in other pigments from the list.
In terms of purchasing pigments, here are some general suggestions:
Never buy sets. At least half will be junk pigments.
Be prepared to pay. High-priced pigments are among the few things remaining where if you pay more, you really do get better quality.
Stick with known manufacturers. Windsor Newton, Liquitex, and Golden are quite reliable. As you can imagine, there is a lot of junk paint out there. How would one know good from awful? The paint tubes all look the same.
Buy 6 oz. tubes, except for white and black, then buy 10 or 12 oz. Smaller tubes are very wasteful and frustrating.
Do not buy pigments with the word "Hue" on the tube. These pigments are watered-down with fillers.
Always buy “Artist Quality” and avoid anything labeled “Student Quality.”
Acrylics have some mixture problems, and you will no doubt later move to oils, which have fewer mixture problems. However, for beginners, acrylics are best because they are easier to handle, being water-based.
Best Paint Starter List:
Cadmium Yellow Medium
Cadmium Red Medium
Permanent Green Medium
Viridian Green Hue (Only "Hue" worth buying)
Best Basic Colors:
Later, you may want to add specialty pigments, but this list will allow you a full range of color. The same list will work for oil pigments.
Keep in mind that no pigments are ideal. They all have their quirks and drawbacks. For example, Permanent Green Medium and Viridian Green are very dark, straight from the tube. However, if you add white to lighten, the color goes dull. Then you try adding a little cadmium yellow to brighten the color, and the result is not the green you want. So you add a little Thalo Blue, and the color starts to go dead. You try something else, and suddenly, MUD.
Click the link below to read an interesting article about how artists’ pigments are manufactured. The company, in this case, is a small, highly specialized, and highly regarded producer of artists’ pigments. The process is complicated, time consuming, and remarkably precise! Inside the Painstaking Process of Making Oil Paint
Happy painting! And Happy Holidays!
~ Betty Edwards
Take 20% off ANY items in the DRSB Store—from now through midnight on December 31st! Just order DRSB Portfolios, DVD, or individual drawing tools through the website, and when checking out, use the code HOLIDAY2018. A 20% discount will automatically be taken.
Betty Edwards, Brian Bomeisler, and all of us at DRSB wish you and yours the happiest of holiday seasons!
One of the benefits of our website and this blog is that readers from around the world have an easy way to get in touch with me. I love hearing how they were affected by Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. When I wrote the book way back in 1978-79, I had no idea the ideas would take hold and have such reach. It is very heartwarming. Below the photo (with my son Brian and daughter Anne) is a letter from Nicole, who recently wrote to me. Thank you, Nicole! And many thanks to everyone who has read my book over these nearly 40 years and felt it enhanced their life in some small way.
I am a 48-year-old artist with four children, and a substitute Art teacher. I see how difficult it is for children to relate at all to what they perceive, how to process their perception, how to connect, and how to relate to it from their own genuine point of view. They also do not know that their perspective is a genuine and a to-be-developed one.
I am happy to write these lines to you after I found you alive at your blessed age - according to the information my smartphone made available for me. I would like to take the opportunity to thank you. A copy of your book on how to learn to draw, based on the right hemisphere was given to me by my godmother when I was 15 or 16. The German title read: Garantiert zeichnen lernen. This book and the exercises in it helped me to survive many isolated, boring days of my childhood, and what I learned in it stayed with me and alive. I still relate to it in courses and classes, although I learned a lot of other stuff later.
In that way you influenced my life in a significant way;I still have some of the drawings I made back in 1986 and later. So, I hope you are well and receive my lines of gratitude. All the best for you and all the others who pay their tribute to the call of our time.
Resist, conserve, hope.
Thank you so much for your lovely and very touching email message. It’s hard to describe how much it means to me to know that my book has had a good effect on someone’s life. You were fortunate to have a godmother who was so thoughtful and insightful to give you the book, and also fortunate that, as a teenager, you took the time and made the effort to learn the basics of drawing. What fun that you still have some of the early drawings!
Your mention of your brief teaching experience and children’s lack of perceptual skills reinforces my strong conviction that we must overhaul our educational system to include again teaching children how to draw. As you infer in your message, this may be a part of “the call of our time.” I do believe that there is hope that change will come.
With all best wishes,
Thank you for your timely response. One thing I forgot to include in my sentence about the children is their difficulty to articulate themselves - in writing, drawing, and eventually in addressing another person with grace and dignity. They are not aware of their lack of form and respect.
I agree to what you say, Betty, about integrating drawing into children’s education to be a very good idea. If I may share my thoughts and learning a bit here - on the paper, using pencil, and color you get a direct response of how you 'treat' it. You can see the difference between a line where the one who draws it is present, and a line that is like a symbol of a line. If you are there on the sheet with your attention, or if you are somewhere else: it is visible! Like you wrote, when one uses the symbol of an eye rather than looking at the actual eye, then the code can be decoded easily; but what was there to be seen stays invisible on the work as a result.
From familiarizing myself with these kind of stereotypes in drawing or playing during my courses in Intuitive Education, I got a model to observe my own social behaviour and the distinction between my idea about myself and what I actually did. One becomes able to create alternative solutions that are more agreeable. Intuitive Education (which I know and work from for more than a decade now) comes from a Waldorf School in Sweden and was taught mainly by Pär Ahlbom (singing, playing, exercising) and Merete Lövlie (painting). I am sharing my experience with you here - I hope not in too much detail.
Anyway, my best wishes to you. I'll visit with my parents tomorrow, they are 90 and 84, and they will be pleased to hear that we communicated. It is good to know that you are still on track to be interested in the future. What gives you such hope? I have hope, too. We are not such a little number.
I find it dismaying that many school systems are canceling any requirements that students learn cursive writing. Along with that, schools are also disappearing requirements for learning how to spell common words.
These are big mistakes, in my view!
We are giving over to machines our very ownership of thought, of expression, and of the beauty of the drawn forms of letters, words, and thoughts. I believe that this is a symptom of a widespread takeover of our culture by left-brain-dominated shortcuts that leave us diminished—the triumph of the left brain.
Fortunately, signs of fighting back are emerging Click here to read about one effort to retrieve our mental connection to the past and to each other. Try your own hand at cursive writing!
~ Betty Edwards
I have long admired the work of British psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist for his insights into the endless enigma of the human brain. His book, The Master and His Emissary, a compendium of research and commentary on left-brain and right-brain, has long been a leader in the field.
McGilchrist’s fast-moving, brilliant, animated lecture is simultaneously deeply informative and great fun to watch, as it unspools at a breakneck pace.
I urge you to take 10 minutes to enjoy this wonderful animation: Iain McGilchrist: Our Divided Brains. You won't regret it!
~ Betty Edwards
Summary of the video: The notion that the brain’s right hemisphere is responsible for emotion and its left hemisphere is responsible for reason has been debunked. But the two hemispheres are indeed distinct, albeit in much more complex ways than we once thought. Animated by the company Cognitive Media, with audio excerpted from a lecture given at the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) by the British psychiatrist Iain McGilchrist, "The Divided Brain" takes a deep dive into the real differences between our two brain hemispheres.
This lovely excerpt from Maryanne Wolf’s book, Reader Come Home, The Reading Brain in a Digital World, HarperCollins, 2018, brought home to me how lucky I am to have grown up in a pre-digital world where books were my friends and companions throughout my childhood.
Click here to read the excerpt: WHAT DOES IMMERSING YOURSELF IN A BOOK DO TO YOUR BRAIN?
In my view, every parent could benefit from reading Maryanne Wolf’s plea to preserve the gifts that come from reading books. Her descriptions of the profound effects of reading ring true, and her ability to put those effects into words is very moving.
~ Betty Edwards
Arts Education in schools is being backed towards a cliff edge.
In a bid to save the Arts, educators are trying to demonstrate that they enhance outcomes in non-art subjects. Yet, while it seems they do, studies rarely prove this beyond all reasonable doubt. The upshot is that, under pressure to funnel dwindling resources into core “academic” subjects (i.e., math, literacy, and science), many schools are positioning Arts Education on the chopping block.
It's time to take a stand!
First, there is growing evidence that learning arts does improve academic achievement. But more important, the question must be asked: “Is the purpose of the Arts Education simply to boost academic results?”
Immersed in arts, kids experience the world and themselves in a different way. They often discover a lifelong passion, develop a sense of self and identity, grow in confidence, and envision a world beyond their immediate environment.
It's vital that we reframe the case for Arts Education.
This visual guide by WeTheParents.org helps to do this by highlighting 51 diverse ways in which Arts Education rewards children. It is clear that learning arts cultivates cognitive abilities, nurtures positive character traits, and fosters critical thinking. As you'll see, many of the benefits span ages, genders, and socio-economic divides; some last a lifetime; and all are backed up by studies.
There's never been a more important time to communicate the importance of Arts Education. Scientific studies struggle to capture the subtle yet profound ways in which the arts transform lives. And so, the impetus is on us – we who experience the positive impact first-hand — to share our story and to shout about it even louder.
15% off everything in the DRSB Store!
Celebrate your mom this year with a gift from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain...Give her a DRSB Portfolio and she can begin drawing right away, with everything she needs.
This sale begins April 29 and extends through midnight May 20, 2018. Just use this Discount Code when you check out from the DRSB Store: LOVEMOM
Betty Edwards, mother of two and grandmother of two, wishes you and YOUR mother a happy day, filled with creativity, art, and love!
This New York Times review describes an exhibition of the brain drawings of artist Santiago Ramon y Cajal at New York University’s Grey Gallery. The art critic Roberta Smith said about the show: “It’s not often that you look at an exhibition with the help of the very apparatus that is its subject. But so it is with “The Beautiful Brain: The Drawings of Santiago Ramón y Cajal” at the Grey Art Gallery at New York University, one of the most unusual, ravishing exhibitions of the season.” (The exhibition closes in New York at the end of March, and will open again in May at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts.)
With its beautiful images and evocative subject matter, it took me back to my earliest days soon after I graduated from college (the University of California, Los Angeles). I believe it must have been around 1949. I had been hired as a part-time assistant to Professor Charles Bridgman, head of the UCLA Art Department’s Scientific Illustration group. Dr. Bridgman, who was quite famous in his field even then, was working on some human brain studies, and I was to help him by reproducing in drawings what I observed on slides through a microscope. Surely this brief experience helped to induce my lifelong interest in drawing and the brain.
One experience remains vivid—and funny in a weird way, looking back now. One day, Dr. Bridgman handed me a wet-looking package, told me it was a human brain to be delivered by hand to a colleague in the Administration Building at UCLA—all the way across the huge campus. I took the package and started the long walk. On the way, the package started dripping. I was horrified, and quite out of breath when at last I was able to deliver the package. To this day, I don’t know if my former professor was making a joke on his naïve young assistant and there was something else in that parcel, or if the task was real!
~ Betty Edwards