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Background and Theory

In 1968, Nobel Prize winner and psychobiologist, Roger W Sperry, made a stunning discovery that the human brain uses 2 fundamentally different modes of thinking – the L-mode, which is verbal, analytic, and sequential (mainly located in the left hemisphere), and the R-mode, which is visual, perceptual and simultaneous (mainly located in the right hemisphere).

Expanding on this, Dr Betty Edwards rejected the notion that drawing is a ‘magical ability’ or an inborn talent. She proposed that anyone could learn to draw – so long as they were able to make a cognitive shift to our R-mode.

Through the process of drawing, you will learn strategies to access R-mode at conscious level and to shift to a particular way of thinking and seeing. In doing so, you will also gain access to your inventive, intuitive and creative potential.

Drawing, pleasurable and rewarding though it is,
Is but a key to open the door to other goals.

The potential force of the creative, imaginative human brain seems almost limitless.
Drawing may help you come to know this power and make it known to others.

– Dr. Betty Edwards

Our Creative Brain

Neuroscience research shows that our brain has 2 fundamentally different modes of thinking: a verbal-analytic mode and a visual-perceptual mode. Creative-productive people have the ability to shift between these 2 modes easily.1 This aspect of cognitive flexibility is a skill anyone can master through training practice. But in order to learn to use our brain effectively, we must first understand it.

It’s important to clarify that the terms ‘left’ and ‘right’ do not refer to specific brain locations; rather the 2 fundamentally different modes the brain handles information with. The verbal-analytic ‘left-mode’ is sequential, logical and analytical. It is the self-monitoring voice we hear all the time, making judgments about the world and ourselves. The visual-perceptual ‘right-mode’ is simultaneous, perceptual, and all about the big picture – the gestalt. It is open and uncritical, allowing us to become curious and fascinated with new worlds of knowledge.2

The ability to shift flexibly between these 2 modes is associated with higher overall cognitive functioning. Once you learn this skill, there is no limit to the innovative ideas and new ways of doing things that you can explore.

Creative mental functioning involves a set of specific brain activation patterns that can be amplified through conscious effort and practice.

– Shelley Carson, Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life. (2010)

1 With insights from Dr Shelley Carson, author, Your Creative Brain: Seven Steps to Maximize Imagination, Productivity, and Innovation in Your Life (2010)

2 With insights from Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D. Neuroanatomist, “My Stroke of Insight” (2008), ranked 2nd most-watched TED talk. Watch her TED talk.

Learning to see better – also lies at the heart of creativity

It is no coincidence, that the language used to describe creative inspiration is so intimately connected to seeing. Think, of words such as “insight,” “seeing the light,” “I see it now,” “foresight,” “clear-sightedness,” and “getting the picture.” Even “intuition,” comes from the verb intueri – “to look at.”

– Dr. Betty Edwards, in her interview with Tony Schwartz