Better Aging Through Practice, Practice, Practice..of Drawing!

What to do about growing old?  In this article in the New York Times, the author Gerald Marzorati suggests that one way to offset the feeling of growing old is to “Find something—something new, something difficult—to immerse yourself in and improve at.”  The author cites growing evidence that learning and practicing a complicated skill can improve brain functions, especially memory.  Mr. Marzorati chooses tennis as his “skill to be learned, practiced, and improved.”

I would like to offer an alternative—learning to draw—for those of us who are not inclined to learn and practice an arduous and physical skill such as tennis…not that learning to draw isn’t arduous!  It is.  Because no exceptional physical strength or stamina is required, drawing can be continuously learned and practiced into great age, something that is not true of playing tennis. 

Drawing fits Mr. Marzorati’s recommendation for those who are aging to find a skill that can be endlessly learned and improved upon, no matter the age.  I can attest to that in my own work, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain®.  Since 1979, I have published four editions of my book, each time trying to improve upon and express my new learning about drawing and my continuing search for the best methods to teach those basic skills.  I truly believe that I can never completely get to the bottom of it.  It is an endless search.  And, I should say, there is great pleasure, joy, and satisfaction in continuing to learn.

The great Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849) put it this way:

“I have drawn things since I was 6.  All that I made before the age of 65 is not worth counting.  At 73, I began to understand the true construction of animals, plants, trees, birds, fishes, and insects.  Consequently, when I am eighty, I’ll have made more progress.  At 90, I will enter in the secret of things.  At 100, I shall have reached something marvelous, but when I am 110, everything—every dot, every dash—will be alive.  I am writing this in my old age.  I used to call myself Hokusai, but today I sign myself ‘The Old Man Mad About Drawing.’”

~  Betty Edwards, May 6, 2016

The Power of a Sketchbook

You will see and remember things so much more if you sketch them, rather than just take selfies or quick photos with your phone!  Click here to read how one of the greatest museums in the world, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, encourages its patrons to sketch!  Bring Your Sketchpad & Pencil To The Museum!

Most museums allow this, but take your sketchbook everywhere with you.  You never know when you might see something beautiful, unusual, or memorable!



Negative Space in Calligraphy

This 11 minute video is a wonderful illustration of negative space, created by Peter Fraterdeus.  You might be interested in his Website:   

Peter has taught seminars on calligraphy, type, and printing, in Berlin, Venice, Barcelona, Chicago, Two Rivers, and elsewhere.  He is a calligrapher, typographer, photographer, fine-printer, and life-long student of consciousness and symbolic communication forms. 

9 Things That Happen When You Carry A Sketchbook With You Nonstop

You might find this article interesting:  9 Things That Happen When You Carry A Sketchbook With You Nonstop!

However, I offer one piece of advice:  I’d suggest that you carry a smaller sketchbook than the one shown in the photo, say 4” x 6” in size. Pocket Sketching Notebooks  

It will easily fit into a pocket or purse and will attract less notice from onlookers, who often ask to see what you are drawing.  That is, unless you want to make some new friends!   There is nothing that beats someone drawing to attract an audience.

~  Betty Edwards, 2/24/2016

The Divided Brain / Iain McGilchrist

According to a ground-breaking book by Iain McGilchrist, a psychiatrist who now resides on the Isle of Skye, it might be that the whole of Western culture has neglected half of our brains. McGilchrist argues that the distinctions between the two halves of our brain, though often misunderstood, offer profound insights into why the world is the way it is. In his book The Master and his Emissary, he surveys the medical and psychiatric evidence to present a persuasive case that the fact that our brains have two hemispheres not only shapes how we perceive the world, but is actually a defining factor in our culture.

I want to share this wonderful video with you!

Artist Coles Phillips and His Use of Negative Space

Clarence Coles Phillips (1880 – 1927) was an American artist and illustrator who signed his early works C. Coles Phillips, but after 1911 worked under the abbreviated name, Coles Phillips. He is known for his stylish images of women and signature use of negative space in the paintings he created for advertisements and the covers of popular magazines.  Here is an article about him: Coles Phillips, Illustrator

Some of his works are fascinating explorations of negative space—#2 of the five component skills of drawing taught in the DRSB 5-Day Workshops.  Here are just a few of Phillips’s works:

Master Artists' Sketches of Hands

Through the ages, artists have sketched hands--their own and others'--trying to get them right!  Here are just a few to admire:  (1) and (2), John Singer Sargent; (3) and (4) Vincent van Gogh; and (5) Antoine Watteau.  The exercise of drawing one's own hands is an important element of the DRSB 5-Day Workshop.

From a High School Student in China

Yesterday, I received the email below from Dongyi, a high school senior in China, who had found our new website and sent a message through the Contacts page.  I was so impressed with her eloquence, her grasp of the DRSB ideas, and how the five perceptual skills are helping her with the rest of her studies.  She gave me permission to share her message with you.

I have long been convinced that learning to draw and understanding those skills are highly transferable to many fields of study and should be part of every school curriculum.  My hope is that one day, drawing will again be taught in schools, to help students access both sides of their brains!

Date: January 23, 2016

Subject: Heartfelt gratitude for Betty and the five perceptual skills which inspire me a lot !


Dear Betty Edwards,

How's it going?

I am a 17-year-old schoolgirl from China. About one year ago, I bought Drawing On the Right Side of Brain on my kindle. The idea of applying the five perceptual with a certain order to observe and obtain the 'aha' of things really impresses me. As you wrote in the last chapter of the edition published in 2012, the potential of the five skills is beyond the boundary of art and they can help with creative thinking as well, with which I totally agree.

As a senior school student, I applied the five skills to study and found that they are quite useful in organizing information. I have slightly adapted them to make them a better tool that I can use, and I kind of combined them with another theory--the constructal theory (like the five skills, the constructal theory is also general and can be applied to many, many things) by Adrian Bejan.
Sorry that I can't add photos here, and I find it impossible to express mysef clearly without sketches. But if you are interested in my exploration, it will be my honor to send another email with photos of my sketches directly to your email address.

Thanks again for your ground-breaking theory and please pardon me for any possible language mistakes in this message.

Best regards!

Yours sincerely,