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Sketching Drawing – Why Do We Think So Much but See So Little?

Normal thinking, which we all do on a daily basis, can inhibit our ability to see clearly when we want to draw. Why does thinking prevent us from seeing clearly in the way an artist must to be able to draw realistically?

 

The two modes of perception

It is a well established medical fact that the human brain has two distinct halves or hemispheres. It is also established that each hemisphere predominantly processes particular types of information (although there is also some overlap or sharing of tasks). It is also known, although in less depth, that we process information on two main levels: the conscious and the subconscious. At the conscious level we are able to be aware of our information processing and to control, to a greater or lesser degree, how we react to that information. The information processing that takes place at a subconscious level we normally have either no control over or at best only a little control (although the level of control can usually be increased with specific training).

Since we have two main modes of processing information it should be clear that we perceive information in different ways.

Information processing

How we receive various types of information generally depends on which of our five senses are used. Once information has been gathered it is then interpreted by which ever hemisphere is best suited to the task. This is where things start to get difficult for people wanting to draw. For drawing or painting, the majority of the information we require is received through our eyes; it is visual information. However, since our left hemisphere tends to be more dominant than the right hemisphere, it is the left hemisphere that takes on the job of sorting out the visual information coming through our eyes. Unfortunately, the left hemisphere is not particularly well suited to visual information processing, even though it thinks it is! It is the right side of our brain that is best suited to handling and interpreting visual information and it is this side that, as artists wanting to draw or paint, we need to use most.

Thinking prevents seeing clearly

Since we do most of our conscious thinking with our left brain (that little voice we all have talks incessantly), when we come to draw we need to be able to stop our left brain from adopting the task of visual processing; which it does quite badly. We must be able to consciously engage our right brain so that we can see the visual information as it really is and not as our left brain misinterprets it. Since our left brain uses mostly symbols for things it recognises, these symbols are what we draw rather than drawing the real visual information that was received by our eyes. This is why too much thinking, i.e. using our left brain, prevents us from seeing properly which leads to adults drawing like children. The reality is: the more you think, the less you can see to draw!

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