Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Understand > A Shift from Verbal to Spatial Consciousness

Understand > A Shift from Verbal to Spatial Consciousness

Access Prior Knowledge:
“If you gotta ask what jazz is, you ain’t never gonna know.”  -Fats Waller.

View > Lisa Renermann’s Type the Sky Series > http://goo.gl/vqHs0Q


New Information:
Betty Edwards is an art professor that wrote Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. The book was a result of her PhD research investigated the psychology of perception and drawing based on the Nobel prize-winning work into the ‘split brain’ by Roger Sperry, begun in the late 1960s. In brief, Edwards teaches her students to draw by switching into ‘R mode’ (non-verbal) instead of ‘L mode’ (usually the more dominant, language-based hemisphere of the brain).
Edwards quotes Paredes and Hepburn (1976) to illustrate the two broad ways of perceiving the world. These researchers cite the example given by anthropologist, Thomas Gladwin, which contrasts the approach taken by European and native Trukese sailors to navigating between the small islands dotted in the huge Pacific Ocean.


Before setting sail, the European begins with a plan that can be written in terms of directions, degrees of longitude and latitude, estimated time of arrival at separate points on the journey. Once the plan is conceived and completed, the sailor has only to carry out each step consecutively, one after another, to be assured of arriving on time at the planned destination. The sailor uses all available tools, such as a compass, a sextant, a map etc, and if asked, can describe exactly how he got where he was going.

In contrast, the native Trukese sailor starts his voyage by imaging the position of his destination relative to the position of other islands. As he sails along, he constantly adjusts his direction according to his awareness of his position thus far. His decisions are improvised continually by checking relative positions of landmarks, sun, wind direction, etc. He navigates with reference to where he started, where he is going, and the space between his destination and the point where he is at the moment. If asked how he navigates so well without instruments or a written plan, he cannot possibly put it into words. This is not because the Trukese are unaccustomed to describing things in words, but rather because the process is too complex and fluid to put into words.

The European style worked just fine, as long as nothing unexpected happened (like a sudden storm or killer whales). However, for most people, and certainly most organisations now, life just doesn’t work that way. The ‘left-brained’ logical approach has its place. But people tend to forget to use their whole brains in navigating challenges.
It seemed to me that the right-brained approach of the Trukese sailors is a great metaphor for creative problem-solving. It also provides a very neat description of leadership, and a great way for me to explain my approach to teaching. Oh yes, and it also helps you draw.

Goal Review:

Respond > In the comment section explain your ‘takeaway’. How is this life improving?

Create > Upside Down Drawing

Gustav Klimt 1907 “Adele Bloch-Bauer I”

Goal: Create a mindful switch from the verbal to the spatial state of consciousness.

Studio Activity:
Understand, that by inverting an image, forms become unrecognizable and ‘nameless’.  this turns down the dominant verbal state of thinking (you don’t name things) and allows the spatial state greater moment to moment awareness.  The spatial state of awareness like mindful meditation induces positive and satisfying emotional consciousness that lasts long after.
  1. Prepare with a  blank page, a pencil and the image I give you.
  2. Take a deep breath and prepare not to speak for 30 minutes.
  3. Turn the image upside down and like Trukese sailor navigate by constantly checking and rechecking visual qualities.  For example; this line goes up and to the left, starting halfway down the middle of the page and ending near the upper left edge of the paper.
  4. Do not speak or attempt to name things.

Trigger Mechanisms: Awareness, Silence, Observation

Goal Review:
Publish > your drawing to our G+Community > Concepts & Creations category
Respond > in the comment section write the following reflection.
  • Obviously you can’t always turn things upside down (models, still lifes or landscapes) so your goal is to be able to look like an artist.  What will that take?

Visual Examples:
Pablo Picasso. Portrait of Igor Stravinsky. 1920. Graphite and charcoal. Musée Picasso, Paris, France
Pieter Brueghel the Younger from theIconography; etching by Van Dyck

Albrecht Durer
My Agnes
Egon Schiele
Edgar Degas

Botticelli