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Wednesday, September 28, 2011

LEARN TO DRAW AGAIN

Here's a very interesting letter I received today from Robert Genn of "Twice Weekly Letter (rgenn@saraphina.com). Just wanted to share it with you. He said I could. It's worth the 2 minutes.




Learning to draw again

September 27, 2011


Dear Coleen,

When I was a kid I was pretty good at drawing. By the time I got to art school some people thought I was a certified drawing genius. Trouble was, I solved all my problems with my drawing--to the detriment of composition, colour and other stuff that should have held my attention. Feeling I had to raise my standards, I decided to drop drawing altogether and try to build some other facilities. It was tough. For about six months I essentially disabled drawing and kicked my drawing board down the road.



To this day I seldom draw. I go right to the other stuff.



Psychoanalyst Dr. Norman Doidge's remarkable book, The Brain That Changes Itself is full of stories showing how the human brain can be rewired. Doidge is of the "neuroplasticity" school of brain science. He doesn't think, for example, that there is one part of the brain that masters drawing and keeps it there. Like a giant hard drive on a computer that's capable of filing stuff randomly, any part of the brain, including left and right hemispheres, can learn and unlearn.



In one story, after a devastating stroke a man was able to gradually regain the use of a paralyzed leg. During his recovery he had come to rely more and more on his good leg. It was part of his process to mentally disable the good leg so the bad leg could begin again.



Psychiatrists note that during the sticky business of lovers parting, it's necessary for them to "disable" the forsaken one in order to begin to love someone else. This doesn't mean trashing the other, but the old has to be properly archived before new love-data can be entered. It's thought that those who don't need to do this didn't love in the first place.



Disabled neural paths can be difficult to regenerate--particularly as you grow older. But it does happen, and it's no miracle. It takes character and focus. You can teach old dogs new tricks--and get them to relearn old tricks they've forgotten. Artists frequently report the loss of drawing ability when they neglect drawing for even short periods of time. Since my heady, distracted days in art school, I've noticed a decline in my drawing ability. Just another case of "use it or lose it"?



Best regards,


Robert



PS: "Neuroplasticity contributes to both the constrained and unconstrained aspects of our nature. It renders our brains not only more resourceful, but also more vulnerable to outside influences." (Norman Doidge)



Esoterica: Canadian painter John Newman suffered a stroke that caused Transverse Myelitus, permanently disabling the right side of his body. His right-handedness appeared to condemn him to no more painting. But with application and focus John was able to gain nearly similar dexterity with his left hand and has subsequently had lefty sell-out shows. FYI, we've put a selection of John Newman's left- and right-handed work at the top of the current clickback.



old dogs new tricks--and get them to relearn old tricks they've forgotten. Artists frequently report the loss of drawing ability when they neglect drawing for even short periods of time. Since my heady, distracted days in art school, I've noticed a decline in my drawing ability. Just another case of "use it or lose it"?

5 comments:

pattisjarrett said...

Interesting post, Coleen.

Faye said...

Really fascinating theory. My husband installed the mouse to the left of the keyboard several years ago. He now uses the laptop but I am still on the desktop computer, mouse on the left. When visitors want to use the computer we switch to the right, but I have trouble doing the mouse with the right hand now.

Britty Luna said...

This is interesting! I used to draw all the time in high school. I got pretty good at it! I'd draw comics, instead of homework.

Well, now I'm out in the 'real world' and I don't draw. And when I do, I find it's not as good as it used to be.

I wonder if I kept up at it, I'd get better again!

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Brina - Swapbot's "Etoile" said...

Hmmm, this post is almost a cautionary tale. But the good news is that we can pick up where we left off and the brain is a flexible organ. This inspires me to get into the habit of drawing/making art again. I don't want to forget or lose my mojo!

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