Creativity: relaxing the left brain: inverted drawing exercise

This exercise is worth 20 points. To turn in your work you will need to scan it in and created a PDF file (please send a copy of the original work as well so I can see what you were trying to copy). You are not being graded on your artwork rather on your ability to describe your experience in two to three paragraphs. Talk about how you were feeling prior to the exercise, during it and when it was done. Comment on what you think of this exercise in creativity and relaxation, how it felt to actually do the drawing, how you felt during and after the inverted drawing exercise. Note how you were feeling, what your brain was doing and engaged in before, during and after the exercise. 

According to Kalat for almost all right handed people and more than 60% of left handers, the left hemisphere of the brain controls speech while the right hemisphere is responsible for spatial relationships such as what an object would look like if it was rotated. The left brain is verbal, logical, rational and analytical while the right brain deals with images, patterns, dreams, analogies and new ideas. Because of this difference in processing, the right brain is more conducive to the relaxation response (Davis, Eshelman, McKay, 2000). 

Using the imaginative and creative part of the brain can be relaxing. This exercise is adapted from The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook (pg 58).I used this exercise in a Stress and Coping course. This exercise draws on the theory and work by Betty Edwards an art teacher and researcher (see the vase-face exercise on the moodle site). She forces her students to shift from thinking about a drawing exercise to intuiting the drawing exercise by asking them to draw the image upside down.

The inverted drawing exercise is designed to cognitively shift you from labeling, logical, rational mode to a nonverbal, visual, intuitive mode the left brain can’t process. After the inverted drawing exercise, according to Edwards, “students reported less time urgency, less attachment to meaning, and a heightened sense of alertness, while feeling relaxed, calm, confident and exhilarated.”  

Text Box: Find a quiet place to draw where you will not be disturbed. Play music if you like. Choose a drawing that interests you from an art book. Turn the drawing upside down and begin to copy what you see. Do not turn the drawing right side up until you have completed your artwork. Finish the drawing in one time period allow at least 35-40 minutes. Set a timer if this helps.   To begin: Look at the inverted drawing for a minute and take in the lines, angles and shapes. You can see how it fits together, when you draw start at the top and copy each line, moving from line to line, putting it together like a puzzle. Do not name parts as you draw. Take your time, line to line, don’t make the exercise hard. Allow your movements to be easy and slow.   After you’ve finished drawing, take a moment to recognize how you feel and your state of mind. Do you feel calm and relaxed? Did you lose track of time, were you able to turn off the left brain chatter? Did you allow yourself to not label the parts, or judge and criticize your work? Now turn the drawing right side up and see how you did. Surprisingly most people do a fairly decent job of copying the inverted image. (adapted from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain as it appeared in The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook (pg 58). 

Kalat, J.W. (2008). Introduction to Psychology 9e

Davis, M., Eshelman, E. R., & McKay, M. (2000). The Relaxation & Stress Reduction Workbook.

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