Task 1 Learning to Observe


One day students were asked to copy a Picasso drawing upside down.
That small experiment, more than anything else, showed that something
very different is going on during the act of drawing. To everyone’s surprise the
finished drawings were so extremely well done that the class were asked, “How
come you can draw upside down when you can’t draw right-side up?”


The students responded,
“Upside down, we didn’t know what we
were drawing.”


You have two brains: a left and a right. Modern brain scientists now know that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain; it thinks serially and reduces its thoughts to numbers, letters and words…
Your right brain is your nonverbal and intuitive brain; it thinks in patterns, or pictures, composed of ‘whole things,’ and does not comprehend reductions, either numbers, letters, or words.


Drawing is not really very difficult. Seeing is the problem, or, to be more specific, shifting to a particular way of seeing. You may not believe me at this moment. You may feel that you are seeing things just fine and that it’s the drawing that is hard. But the opposite is true.

Broadly speaking, except for the degree of complexity, all drawing is the same. One drawing task is no harder than any other. The same skills and ways of seeing are involved in drawing still-life setups, landscapes, the figure, random objects, even imaginary subjects, and portrait drawing. It’s all the same thing: You see what’s out there (imaginary subjects are “seen” in the mind’s eye) and you draw what you see.


What is the purpose of Upside Down Drawing?

The purpose of this kind of practice is to force your left (thinking) side of the brain to give up identifying what you draw. So, even if you have a little voice that tells you the name of features or things, – ignore it! Instead, focus on a specific line and concentrate on its direction and where it lies in relation to the lines
around it.
If you do have trouble with matching things up as you come to the end of the drawing, this is because it is out of proportion. That doesn’t matter, just connect it all as best as you can because the benefit remains.

So begin by trialling this technique and drawing this horse, upside down:

You will find the horse, and the more challenging Picasso line drawing, on this following resource so you can print them and then copy what you see. To make things even easier, draw a grid over your image and also onto your page- then you can copy each square in turn…but remember, upside down.

Click here: upside down

I’m sure when you are more aware of using the right side of your brain, you will find your observation skills significantly improve. Remember that everything you need to know in order to draw the image is right in front of your eyes. All of the information is right there, making it easy for you. Don’t make it complicated. It really is as simple as that.


If you feel confused by a large picture, try placing paper over the picture and just reveal one portion at a time. You’ll only need to do this once or twice. When your confidence builds, you won’t even notice the whole picture, you will
only be seeing the lines you are copying. This may not work for everyone… do what feels right for you to ‘simplify’ what you are seeing.

At some point, the drawing may begin to seem like an interesting, even fascinating, puzzle. When this happens, you will be “really drawing,” meaning that you have successfully shifted to R-mode and you are seeing clearly. This state is easily broken. For example, if someone were to come into the room and ask, “How are you doing?” your verbal system would be reactivated and your focus and concentration would be over. This is also true if you have the TV on in the background or music playing with recognisable lyrics.

Copy the picture just as you see it and don’t be tempted to turn it the right side up at any time. You can start anywhere on your page that you
feel comfortable with. It’s fine if you wish to erase. Sometimes our judgment is a little bit out


Simple isn’t it? This technique helps to set you on the path of seeing the way an artist sees! That, in turn, helps you properly illustrate whatever you want. Upside down drawing develops your ability to see only lines and shapes and their relation to each other which is the ultimate aim for all artists 🙂


During our next tutorial, we will also look at ‘The Grid Method’ which will help many of you learn this technique quicker and be even more successful 🙂

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Why not have a go at this and post your artwork for me to see. Maybe I or the community can offer support, encouragement and helpful feedback.  – share your work on TWITTER and INSTAGRAM – POST  using our hashtag #ONLINECOLLEGEART




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