Sunday, June 26, 2011

Left-brain/Right-brain (Or Much Ado About Nothing)

Ink and watercolor in moleskine
Warning:  Mind at work.  Use due care as you step into my mind as the left-brain and right-brain are hard at work in developing the above page.

Left-brain:   It's a crowded room, and there are lot's of people.  It's a good chance to sketch.
Right-brain:  Must draw!  Must draw!  Pen.  Pen. Where pen?!  Thank God.  Pen here.  Draw!
Left-brain:   Now who should I draw?  Maybe that elderly woman.  She doesn't seem to moving around too much, and she can't see me from this angle.
Right-brain:    Face. What a face!  Angst!  Such angst!  Circles. Circles.  Round and round.  Pen.  Pen!
Left-brain:  Let's see, the nose is at about a 10:00 angle, and it is about so long..
Right-brain:  Sliding Pen, curves..curves!  The face.  Here. I feel - the line here! Ooooh!

Then, after a similar left/right collaboration when drawing a man onto the page:

Left brain:  I want a whole statement.  Not just two unrelated faces on a page.  I think I'll draw a line to connect them - kind of like what Barbara Weeks does in her sketchbook here.  Now to color the faces:  I think I am beginning to get a glimmer of what Andrew Wyeth does with his skin tones.  It is not just drybrush, but an initial wash plus drybrush, or perhaps multiple washes alternated with drybrush.  I've got to try that.  It's like when I completed the figures in this page, I applied drybrush in various places over wash, and I like the effect:

Ink and watercolor in moleskine
Left brain:  I need to experiment with this drybrush over wash, to see if I can mold contours of a face.  Let's see - here's a drawing in my moleskine I don't like so much.
Right Brain:  Brush.  Here!  More here!  Ooh!!  Over here!
Left brain:  How each layer shows through!  I think I forgot as I did this where the light source was, but a successful experiment nonetheless!  Now let's try it on this other page!

Back to the page with the man and the woman, and the right and left brain collaborate on applying colors to the faces.  But something doesn't seem right about the background:

Right brain [viewing the painted faces on the white page background connected by a line]:  Boring.  Emotionless. Need Color.  Color!!   [Proceeds to put color all over the page recklessly, and with abandon.]

Left brain:  Hmmmm.  Don't like the way this one came out really.  I think I'll have to post this with the white page in the back.  I'm glad I scanned it.
[But left brain then shows the page to his Most Valuable Critic, an invaluable female whole brain, whose mouth says:  Nah, I don't like the colors - too pastelly.  I think grey would be better.]
Left brain:  Why not?  It'd be a neat experiment!  I can see if I can use different complimentary colors over all of the different colors for many different grey tones, and if that proves too unwieldy I can just spread Paynes Grey over everything - it's semi-transparent, colors should show through to some degree for interest.

Right brain [after Payne's grey is spread over everything]:  Whoa.  Somber.
Left brain:  It's amazing what a background will do.  White didn't do this.  Color didn't do this.  The grey has connected them.  They are family.  He has done something terrible.  He looks for foregiveness but she cannot forgive.  What he has done is irredeemable.
Right brain:  Yeah.. [Sigh].  What he said.

Where I stand today:

Left brain: Now to use a much larger pencil drawing of a woman's face to try this technique - wash first, then drybrush, then glazes perhaps, then more drybrush.  A larger drawing allows room for detail.  The absence of pen makes me rely entirely on painting.

[At first it looks horrible, but gradually, layer by layer it builds thanks to the intuition of the Right brain.  This method is slow!  But could it be working?]

The left brain is useful and the right brain is necessary, but the fingers are indispensable.  Because right now, the fingers are crossed.  We shall see..

"I am continuously seeking, trying out new ways.  It utterly absorbs me.  I am continually producing drawings, although most of them don't ever develop into anything because I get another idea of something that is better than that initial, sharp, idea." - Andrew Wyeth.

Both brains agree.  Or maybe you could say that both brains are of the same mind.  Hmmm.  Makes you think, doesn't it?


  1. And some people think drawing looks so simple.

  2. great drawings/sketches Dan..& I enjoyed the conversation between your lobes! :)

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  4. Congratulations, Dan ! Love the atmosphere and what is left unsaid between those two !!

  5. Right brain sounds like someone I know!
    The colours are lovely and rich, even for grey. The faces jump out giving them real impact. Great post Dan.

  6. There should be a series of this published somewhere Dan =) The struggle between the left brain and right brain..hahahahaa. =) Awesome post, great sketches, and funny as always!

  7. Great post Dan! I like the way you've tried to capture the competing sides of your personality. The one is trying to be measured and calculating, whereas the other is much more impressionistic and acts upon urges.

  8. A lovely little study, as usual, with insightful and entertaining narrative .... Left Brain

    Cool, yes, yes, funny, love it!! Right Brain

  9. Great sketches as always! I enjoyed the narrative too, and that's a wonderful quote.

  10. Fabulous painting DAN. Love that somber gray and I agree that they do appear to have an emotional connection. And your left brain-right brain scenario is priceless.

  11. I love reading the work and the brain talk---it got me to looking at your great color & going thru ideas like Grant went thru Richmond--I held my hand over it, posed with pencil, and let it solve what I would do for "another look" to the page---and there are possibly 2,349,674 more...I'd add a torn edged piece of paper in the lower right space, maybe in a sort of rectangular shape----in light facial tones with a cryptic note hastily written and wrinkled lines that show it had been crumpled up... this I would glue on....there !---group of three, let it be ....
    I've seen Wyeth's messy free underpaintings and couldn't fathom (in my younger mind) it was possible to start that way--
    then I think some more and imagine how an (again done on other paper) old looking stamped envelope would look there.......must stop now...

  12. Haha - really enjoyed this 'conversation', Dan, and I love the final result.

  13. Great painting, Dan. I'm familiar with these conversations during painting--I've noticed that they happen at the golf course, too. Left brain says: Keep your head down, bend your knees, cock your wrist, follow through, keep your eye on the ball. Right brain says: Just hit the damned ball.

  14. Great conversation! I agree with hallie about the talk happening on the golf course.

  15. Great work Dan and brilliant post.....(you've made me realise why I listen to radio plays when I'm drawing - it stops the internal conversations)

  16. Dan- I loved this whole post and laughed right out loud when you said, "right now the fingers are crossed". Exactly!
    Painting, art, sketching etc. is a leap of faith. This internal conversation you've outlined so well is part of the process.
    Keep listening to your right brain, young man because your intuitive skills are fantastic!
    I love, love, LOVE! how you finished your painting from a few posts ago. The color MADE it- it completed the scene.
    I'm so glad to be able to listen in- great work, AS ALWAYS!

  17. I love that you shared your thought processes with us! I must say, I enjoy your Right Brain - so enthusiatic!

  18. I'd go crazy if I had those two in my head. I like the grey background and reading how you got there too.

  19. Thank heavens Im not the only one who has these constant jumps or fights between my left and right sides of my noodle... I try so hard to let my fun and relaxed side to take over but the other side fights back like mad...

    Great brain power post!!!!

    I just got back from a mini vacation, must get my brain a break and then post what I did during that time : )


  20. HAHA! What an enjoyable read! I have had those same arguments with my brain more often than I like to think of. I just talk it out with myself and keep talking till I'm done. Whatever works, I say.

    Love the drawings and the fact that you are working in so many ways.

    This is Ellen from writing. I just posted on Alex's page and everything was fine. Now it won't let me post here, so I'll try a couple of ways till it works.
    Thanks so much for your kind comments on my blog. Blogger won't let me sign in there either.

  21. Dan, really great post! More, more!

  22. Thanks so much, everyone! I've been on a vacation, so I'm a bit late to respond to you all. Anyway, it's good to know I'm not the only one with arguing lobes. Hallie - love your description! And Winna, what can I say? I see where your boundless creativity comes from. You have found about 2,000,000 more possibilities than me!

  23. wow, dan. you're left and right are in perfect harmony with each other. excellent achievements.