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on June 18, 2004
I started my art experience with this book, and to it I give much credit. For me, it was like a "light switch" had been turned on. One day I could not draw, the next day I could. I did take the lessons seriously, and completed the book. If you are new, this book delivers on it's promises. It doesn't matter if the right/left part is correct or not, the fact is - the methods work. There are many other things to master, but the ability to draw correctly is what separates real artists from the fake ones, of which there are many. Drawing is the foundation. If you want to learn how to draw, this book will take you where you want to go faster than any other. Later, when you are in that expensive oil painting class, and 11 out of the 15 students are stuck because they can't draw, you will be thankful that you started off with this book. You will be one of those who can at the very least render your subject correctly.
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on December 14, 2003
This updated edition of the classic book by Betty Edwards is a must-read - not only for artists but for those wanting to unleash their creativity.
Learning to draw is like learning to write - there are very basic skills that we should all know. It doesn't mean that everyone who learns to draw must become a professional artist, just like the fact that everyone learns to write, but doesn't not become a professional writer. These are both ways to access our thoughts and creativity - visually AND in words. There is no secret to drawing, held only by those special few "artists." Drawing is a skill everyone can have, and we are better for it.
(And to the reviewer who churlishly recommended Nicolaides' book instead of Edwards': Yes, is important, too, but Betty Edwards' "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" is very complementary to it, and carries his work many steps further...)
Buy this book and open your mind!
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on July 8, 2004
Anyone who has anything bad to say about this book is
lost in space. There is no person on earth who cannot improve
after doing the projects in this book. Just one thing I would like to note: Try to take this class with a teacher so you don't give up in the middle. Once you get over the muscle pain in your right brain you'll thank yourself a million times over that you did it. You will see things you have never
noticed before and when you show people your drawings their jaws
will drop on the floor. One more thing: Never have a coffee (with caffeine) before doing the projects. You have to be very
calm and get into the drawing like a musician has to get into
the music.
I am thrilled that I am almost finished with the course, and
now I can draw almost ANY object I see.
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on June 27, 2009
This a book is used my many professionals and is one of the best instructional tools in learning the art of drawing.
I myself was taught to draw using this book 25 years ago and have been a professional artist for my entire career. I am now using this book to teach others! Easy to follow with very useful exercises! If you follow it you WILL know how to draw by the time you are finished with the book!
I highly recommend and endorse this book!
Laura Fernandez
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I bought the original book years ago, and it really improved my drawing skills. I believe people who are blocked from drawing well will get the most from this book. More accomplished artists may benefit as well by understanding better how the process works.

It shows you how to look at things differently, and gives you techniques to enable you to bypass your left (logical) brain, and access your right brain, (your subconscious mind), hence the title.

Instead of using left brain- right brain theory to describe this, in my view the more correct description would be to learn to access your subconscious mind which functions at a deeper level, while reducing the way in which your conscious mind interferes with the creative process.

Your brain has four levels of consciousness, beta which is normal waking state, alpha which is a relaxed meditative state such as when you are about to go to sleep, theta which is a deeper state associated with creativity and light sleep, and delta which is deep sleep.

Normally, your brain shows shows some activity at all these levels. Artists and other creative people are able to access the creative mental state more easily.

Here is an example of how the process works.

If you try to draw a chair you may have a definite idea in your logical mind of how a chair should be, so when you draw you are thinking 4 legs, a seat and a back. You know all the legs are the same length, and therefore you may draw that way.

This can interfere with you doing a good drawing, because each leg from an artistic viewpoint is longer or shorter depending on the distance from your eye, so you have to learn how to use your vision to see it differently.

In the book is a picture of something such as a chair or a person's face, and you may draw it as it is. You can also use a picture from a newspaper or magazine. This shows your current skill level.

Now, turn the picture upside down and draw the picture upside down. As you do this drawing, you may notice that you are producing a more accurate copy of the picture. See for yourself. I was amazed at the results.

There are other examples and illustrations to show you how to see pictures differently, and use space, light and shade, optical illusions and so forth.

As you become more experienced you will learn how to use your new skills automatically. I particularly enjoyed using pictures of movie stars, turning them upside down, copying them, and then doing it again right side up.

I have referred several people who would love to draw well to this book. If you are not as artistic as you would like to be, and were to follow the exercises in this book there is no reason your skill level should not improve dramatically. If it worked for me, it can work for you. This is pretty easy.

Most people have the skill, they just have not learned how to release it yet. This book will teach you how. Can you imagine drawing anything you want to draw completely accurately, and with incredible detail, subtlety and nuance. This potential is just a few clicks away. If it worked for me, it can work for you, because my drawing skills were not good.

If you have further interest in developing your creative potential, I suggest you consider buying some entrainment CD's such as Awakened Mind System by Jeffrey Thompson, and Chakra Suite by Steven Halpern. I have reviewed these separately.

I hope you find this review helpful.
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on September 16, 1999
I'm in a drawing course at a community college where the instructor has used the 1989 edition for a number of years with good results. Needing the book, I purchased the new edition (by mistake) through Amazon and must return it. However, having now reviewed both books, I believe that the new edition suffers by comparison.
There are too many mechanical aids required in the new edition, and the mechanics of their application is poorly and vaguely explained, which will discourage some people. My general feeling is also that the author is stretching to revitalize the work and, in the process, has weakened its impact.
Though I find her work valuable and helpful, I'm distracted by the lengthly and repetitious discussions about the need to silence the left brain and to allow the right brain to function. A great deal of verbiage could have been saved if most of this was edited out and replaced by a short phrase to simply remind the reader of this necessity.
However, having said these things, let me also say that I have found the book to be valuable and helpful in my own efforts to gain solid drawing skills that should allow me to render better value sketches before I start my watercolors.
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on September 6, 2003
I would have to agree with many artists when they say this book doesn't make you Vincent Van Gogh just in five days. Basically this is only for improving your skills or maybe brushing up on them a bit (like I am). No, it isn't for skilled artists, who already know how to see things when they draw. Like many had previously said before me "The Natural Way to Draw: A Working Plan for Art Study" is the only book I would recommend for "serious" artists who take Art (with a capital A, as Dr. Edwards has said) as something they want to excel in and maybe make a career of.
As much as I have to admit that Dr. Edwards is a little full of it, her way of instructing one to shift to the right hemisphere of the brain for full creativity is a great one. It's not only for drawing, it's for expanding your way of thinking. Part of the reason why I got this book wasn't only to improve my skills, but to find a way somehow to improve on academic standards. And not just my education, but the way of seeing a different way.
I don't agree with her stating that one would be a wonderful drawer after studying exercises and the literature she provides, but I do believe this whole entire book is the first step. After reading it, you have a choice of continuing on to more serious books like "The Natural Way to Draw" and taking art courses or you can just take what you learn to sketch when you are stressed and need a way to escape from reality for just a while.
My final analysis: I think a lot of people have already said this but I will say it again: Don't expect to be a intermediate artist and learn to draw like a professional. If you have your revelations about this book, here's a clue: GO TO YOUR LIBRARY AND CHECK IT OUT FIRST. That's exactly what I did before I even considered buying it; that way you won't waste money on a book then whine about it later because it wasn't what you expected. You always try on clothes before you buy them and you go to. the electronic store to play around with the devices. Do the same thing before buying any book.
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on September 26, 2002
As an individual who never thought I had any potential to draw, this book completely thrilled me. Edwards explained that drawing has more to do with seeing than the actual mechanics of drawing (which supposedly, we're all pretty good at). She takes you through steps and examples that help you pick up on these basics of seeing as an artist sees. The book is full of drawing "tasks" that lets the eager beginner get started right away. These tasks are designed to teach you new things while producing surprisingly good drawings. Of course this book won't make you an amazing artist overnight- but I did see that overnight I went from drawing at a child's level to producing things I never thought I could. It seems like there are two groups of people. Those who have had some sort of art training don't find this simple, easy to read book as amazing as the author tends to make it sound. However, those, like myself, who draw stick figures and smiley faces- calling it art, see this book as some sort of miraculous cure for the cheesy drawings we dislike so much. I recommend this book to anyone who feels anxious or hopeless when it comes to drawing. Anyone who has surpassed that level would probably be best off getting the opinion of someone closer to the artistic level they are currently at.
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on August 24, 2001
Just take a look at the drawing on the cover. That should tell you something. As someone below said, this book might be okay for someone who REALLY doesn't know how to draw (as opposed to the beginning student). There are some people who really are visually challenged, but guess what, they belong in a class where the instructor can push every visualization technique in the book at them. The funny thing about this book is how many of the "before" drawings, as inept as they are, are better than the slick easy cheesy "after" drawings. At least some of the befores have some charm. This book is a true disaster for a creative artist. We all know that real work leads to great drawing and the ability to see. The left brain-right brain is a lot of hooey.
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on June 12, 2001
Wanting a tune up in my own drawing skills, I picked up the latest edition of this book, whose earlier editions I had read years before in high school. Immediately, I was turned off by several things in this new version, like:
1. Its very boastful and unrealistic claims of how it will help you become an artist overnight. Holy Cow! Was I the only one who felt uncomfortable reading the opening chapters where the author kept showing the works of people who "learned to draw" after taking her five day seminar, claiming that you could do the same? Sorry, folks, but as the person below me said, it takes years and years to perfect the art of drawing and picture-making, not five days! This book will help you on your way to becoming an artist. But you will still need-- in some cases-- years of lessons to become a tried and true draughtsman.
2. The author's hubris. The opening chapters start out like Edwards is God's gift to art instruction. Jiminy Christmas! From the way she describes the breakthroughs of her students and her achievements, you would think that these scenes were as dramatic as when Helen Keller finally said "wa-wa!" Give me a break!
3. The Right Brain/Left Brain B.S. The premise of the book is sheer genius: in order to learn to draw, one must learn to see as an artist. Nice and simple, right? So why does the author feel the need to support this idea with this half-brained notion of left brain/right brain theory?
This was one of my most frustrating experiences with the book. There were so many times in reading it when I screamed, "If she just took out all this nonsense about the left and right brain, she would have the perfect art instruction book!" When you read this edition of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, you will notice that Edwards spends an inordinate and unnecessary amount of time defending this theory and shoving it down our gullets, when she could have spent that time instead showing you more art techniques. Funny thing about that is that the left brain/right brain theory is not only debatable, it is absolutely unnecessary in the teaching of art instruction. It is. To teach someone to draw, one must present the student with a solid base of tried and true exercises and techniques teaching him how to retrain his eyes. But Edwards, desperate, to be famous for her "theory," forces the issue again and again that you must understand how the brain works in order to draw. She even makes it a point to say that you can teach someone to draw without left brain/right brain theory, but that it would be "very difficult."
This statement is a classic case of ego at work again! Edwards just can't let go of the fact that the theory she proposed initially may have been a little wrong-headed, so not only does she waste a chapter or two exhausting the reader with scientific research, she keeps forcing the issue throughout the book. But why? Even if the right brain/left brain theory were wrong, Edwards would still be an important figure in art instruction!
Once again, I get the sense that her defensiveness is just ego. If it were proven that left brain/ right brain theory were wrong, it would make-- in what I am assuming is her opinion-- her discoveries that less "special." That would be a shame if that were the case, because she doesn't need the crutch of "right brain" theory to legitimize her work. Her art instruction techniques already speak for themselves.
4. It was muddled. What really surprised me about the book was how schizophrenic it was. It was one part scientific, giving detailed analyses of how the brain works; one part art instruction book, with solid art techniques that go back centuries (the plastic picture plane); and one part Zen Buddhist philosophy. There was something very odd about seeing very scientific passages accompanied by very philosophical, Zen quotes in the margins. As a result, the book had a very work-in-progress, disjointed feel that the previous editions didn't have before.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain-- the earlier editions, that is-- is a must-have if you want to understand the concept of how to see visually. There is no doubt about it-- it is one of the most pivotal art instruction books of our time.
But understand that this book is only the first step. You will not become Michelangelo overnight. Also, don't take the idea that you have two brains two seriously, because for one, it's never been proven and two, this idea will eventually get in the way of learning how to draw.
All in all, a three star review from me.
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