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View Full Version : Scathing criticism of Betty Edwards' book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain"


Lunatique
09-12-2011, 07:05 AM
Here a scathing criticism of Betty Edwards' book and her teachings (a student of mine mentioned it):
http://chiseledrocks.com/main/musings/topics/snakeoil#fn1

I've always been an Andrew Loomis and Jack Hamm person myself.

joshbailey
09-12-2011, 08:36 AM
I looked up the book on amazon and went directly to the reviews section. A lot of people gave it the 4 and 5 stars and great comments. I really pity their faith in that book after reading the critique on it and seeing before and afters ><

Lunatique
09-12-2011, 09:26 AM
If the book simply clarified that being able to copy what you see is only the very first step in the journey to become a good artist, and next must come the understanding of structure, laws of physics regarding the behavior of light and color, surface properties, perspective, anatomy, figure...etc, then she would have redeemed herself, But according to that article, she didn't, and that's where she went wrong.

dbisme
09-16-2011, 07:31 PM
If the book simply clarified that being able to copy what you see is only the very first step in the journey to become a good artist, and next must come the understanding of structure, laws of physics regarding the behavior of light and color, surface properties, perspective, anatomy, figure...etc, then she would have redeemed herself, But according to that article, she didn't, and that's where she went wrong.


Robert-have you ever heard of a possible alternative book called Your Artist's Brain by Carl Purcell?

I have been considering buying it instead of Betty Edward's book.

Cheers

Doug

VanillaCoke
09-16-2011, 07:52 PM
Not convinced at all by that article. The 'right side' book was the first i got on the subject of drawing, after i went through it i made great progress. Still can't draw much because i didn't really take that much interes in it but still, it was quite good progress for a few days.

Now the interesting thing is 2-3 months ago i was watching one of the science channels, i think discovery science, and they were talking exactly about the two hemispheres. How they made experiments with magnetic waves to 'turn the level down' on the left side and the subjects had better visual memory, were drawing better from memory and other similar things.

So I'm not convinced at all that it's all just old school myth from the 60s, we still don't really know that much about the brain, but the book works well for what it claims, which is teaching you how to look and see and giving you confidence that you can actually draw.

As a beginners book, I think opening up an Andrew Loomis book seeing those diagrams with perspective and all that can be daunting. while Betty Edwards' book gives lots of enthusiasm and helps you with that first step of getting over symbols and the idea that you don't have talent. You can then go on and try Loomis, Hamm with more confidence.

Lunatique
09-17-2011, 02:09 PM
It looks like the same "depict what you see" type of teaching as Betty's book.

Keep in mind, that kind of teaching isn't bad inherently, because it is part of the learning process for a beginner, and it is important. The potential problem is when these people don't mention that it's only one element in a well-rounded artistic training, and there's a lot more beyond just copying what you see. Even if you're only going to do plein air or alla prima, you should still study perspective, anatomy/figure, lighting/values, color theory...etc. Simply learning how to depict what you see is not enough.

dbisme
09-17-2011, 07:36 PM
It looks like the same "depict what you see" type of teaching as Betty's book.

I see, thanks. So far I've only looked at the blurb on Amazon for the book-which tells you very little.

The potential problem is when these people don't mention that it's only one element in a well-rounded artistic training, and there's a lot more beyond just copying what you see.


I have never quite understood why some people insist on making the left brain/right brain thing an either/or process. Yes, it's true that some functions that we perform are largely done with the left or right hemisphere. However, both halves of the human brain are in the same person and are made to work together. There are also several documented cases where people have relearned thought process such as speech or whatever after a bad accident that largely destroyed some of their brain. It's more logical to speak of the human body as a system, not a pile of parts such as left brain, right brain.


Even if you're only going to do plein air or alla prima, you should still study perspective, anatomy/figure, lighting/values, color theory...etc.

If you learn the theory of the above processes, you can better understand why the whole painting or illustration looks the way it does.


Simply learning how to depict what you see is not enough.

Yup-that's nothing more than monkey art. (Monkey see, monkey do.) Humans should be capable of SO much more! :-)

Cheers

JanosHunyadi
10-03-2011, 06:36 PM
I'm currently reading both Loomis and Shamus Culhane. Culhane's book, Animation: From Script to Screen, is interesting in that this is an animator who has his students imagine three characters, and draw each model for a one minute, as many as he can in an hour, without stopping. I started yesterday, and it is emotionally draining work! My first models were utter crap, but slowly they started improving. I'm not sure if this is helpful, but I guess it gives you a better understanding of what an animator goes through!

Gnome^
10-15-2011, 07:44 AM
This book was required for one of my earliest drawing classes. After reading the critique of the book I think Arenhaus perhaps missed the basic premise of the book; that is to take an average person whose never ventured forth much to learn the whatnots of drawing since they were children, and get them to start thinking of what they're doing. It's a positive, nurturing guide to teach the student how to see, maybe implied that it's just the beginning. Yes once you understand the departure from symbolistic drawing and start to look at your subject. To the uninitiated that could very well be magic. A kick-start to the young artist soul perhaps?

Is the book redundant to the left/right brain theory? of course, but then it was written when that theory was fairly new and a rather hot item. I have Loomis and Hogarth books, but honestly, throw those at a budding artist and you might freak 'em out.

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