jod8-0629As I said last week, the idea of there being ‘right’ and ‘left’ sides of the brain first became popular in the 70’s and was used to explain the different ways we function in the world. The left side was said to govern logical, linear tasks, and the right side to govern creative and imaginative activities. We now know that our brains fire off and connect in a myriad of different ways depending on the demands we ask of it. The theory does help to illustrate why many people find drawing difficult though, so I use it in a metaphorical sense, so please bear with me!

jod8-artichokeThere are many ways of activating the right brain and overriding the left; by drawing very, very slowly, by drawing very complicated subjects, by copying images we have turned upside-down, by using our non-dominant hand, by refusing to start a drawing with an outline and then ’filling-in’, by drawing from unusual angles, by trying not to name things…… It doesn’t matter what you draw, it’s how you draw it that counts.

At first this can be extremely irritating, as our left brains are very strong and want to ‘help’, but keep telling yourself that your left brain cannot draw at all – it desperately wants to find short cuts and symbols, to save time and move on to the next thing. jod8-catsIt doesn’t want to slow down and really study anything with the intense interest it takes to draw something well.

Research shows that everyone has the ability to learn how to use the right brain effectively, as long as they are trained to do it. When they are helped to strengthen areas they thought were weak, the ‘mental muscle’ also strengthened and improved in other areas.

jod8-12So learning to draw in this way can help you become more creative in general – more skilled with words, able to manipulate numbers, more imaginative recipes! Life becomes more enjoyable if you are using both sides of the brain.

So, to activate the right brain in other ways, and also to improve your drawing and creativity, try using both sides of your body more – combing your hair, brushing your teeth, dialling the phone, even writing and eating with cutlery in the ‘wrong’ hands. Doing this feels uncomfortable, but notice how your brain is trying to make new connections, and how much more interesting these tasks become! Release your right brain from its non- creative prison!

The seminal book on the subject is “Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards.


About Jeni Caruana

Jeni was born in England and studied at Uxbridge, Hull and Harrow Art Colleges before settling in Malta in 1977. She subsequently worked as a graphic designer and followed a post-Diploma course at Malta College of Art. Jeni has held regular solo exhibitions of her works and participated in numerous joint, group and collective exhibitions in Malta and abroad, representing Malta in UK, USA, Sardinia, Rome, Tunisia, Libya and Norway. Paintings now hang in many public and private collections. --- Works cover a wide variety of subjects and media, from landscapes to Prehistoric Temples, sand to ceramics, watercolour and acrylics to wooden sculptures. They are always based on good drawing and keen observation and always started on location or from live models. Intense study of the human figure has resulted in her ability to capture fleeting glimpses of people in motion. Visually expressing the emotional effects of music on the senses, her ‘musician’ paintings are a favourite subject. --- Jeni has been teaching drawing and watercolour techniques to adults since 1995. She regularly runs courses and workshops in drawing and watercolour for adult beginners and improvers, specialised courses in life drawing, watercolour techniques, weekend workshops and painting outings and also art for self-expression, meditation and relaxation. --- For more information please contact; Studio Address: - “Dar Il-Mistrieh”, - 15, Old Church Street, - Manikata - MLH 5202