Accessing the right frame of mind: drawing wrong way up

Over the last few days I completed the next group of exercises in Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The task was to replicate a series of line drawings upside down and whilst doing so, become conscious of “R mode” or thinking dominated by the right (creative) hemisphere of the brain.

The theory is that we can discourage L-mode – and by extension foster R-mode – by presenting challenges that L-mode doesn’t like e.g. transforming a recognisable drawing into a jumble of lines by turning it upside down. The more we experience R-mode thinking through artificial means, the easier it becomes to access R-mode at will.

The first two drawings went smoothly, most likely because I’d attempted them before and thus knew I could achieve a reasonable result.


I was glad to see a small improvement on my 2007 attempts especially given the horse from 2007 seemed pretty close to the original already.

Back in 2007 I’d skipped the next drawing, most likely because it fills me with dread. Tackling it required real determination and I doubt I’ll ever try to draw it again!

By the end, of drawing 3 I was mentally exhausted.

I’d also skipped drawing 4 back in 07. This one seemed more approachable due to the simple linework but it was still surprisingly difficult.

On reflection, r-mode was most noticeable when highlighting interesting shapes within the drawing and focusing on replicating those shapes rather than worrying about how the whole picture was coming toghether. L-mode was most noticeable when dealing with parts of the drawing that I recognised e.g. hands, eyes or noses.

The most challenging aspect of the exercise was recognising relationships and keeping everything in proportion. This may be one area where drawing upside down exaggerates perception issues. However, it could also be that my R-mode just hasn’t had enough practice at dealing with such challenges without L-mode assistance.

Whatever the case, it seemed as though my ability to see relationships and angles between lines and shapes reduced with every drawing. I was mentally drained and somewhat dejected after drawings 3 and 4.

I did a little pocketbook sketch right-way-up to try soothe my ego but it only served to remind me that there’s a long journey ahead.

I was way too critical of myself in the first few hours after completing the drawings. With another 24 hours of reflection behind me, they don’t seem so bad now.

Let’s press on!

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