Home assignment:

Right-Brain Technique



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The Right-Brain Technique helps you draw any subject with ease. During the entire process, draw shapes, not things. It may sound counterintuitive, but if you switch to drawing the furniture in the room and all the recognizable details, you’ll lose the magic touch.

Resist the temptation to turn the photograph “to see it”, and resist turning your drawing “to check if your shapes are working”.

The exercise is very easy, but the brain will make it feel challenging - not because the task is hard, but because the brain does not like the uncertainty: in an upside-down drawing, it is impossible to assess quality. The brain craves “confirmation” and “encouragement”. Do not give in to it - it would ruin your focus on shapes! The ego (the conscious brain) should remain in the state of “being unsure” during drawing.

Your attention should be on the concept: “positive and negative shapes as equally important”. Try to get into the state of not-understanding what all these shapes are. Do not turn both your photo and your drawing around even mentally.


If you did not finish your piece from class, continue drawing until you are completely done. Only then can you flip it right-side-up to see it. Read the home assignment for helpful reminders.

If you finished your piece from class early, find an image of an exquisite and complex interior. Turn it upside down, and don’t look at it right-side-up anymore. Keep both the image and your drawing upside down for the entire time. This is a psychological game - to win it, you must follow the rules.

How to start:

  • Start with the “big picture” - with the major divisions (the first line may be between the floor and the wall). Draw all the largest areas first. This will make the beginning more manageable: easier to locate the smaller shapes within the big shapes. Notice that when you focus on shapes, the image does not look like an interior, but rather like a puzzle. This is how you should view both your drawing and the image - as an abstract puzzle made of dark and light shapes.
  • Inside these larger areas, observe and draw the smaller shapes. Pay attention to whether they are dark or light, and shade them accordingly.
  • Make these shapes as exact as possible - in terms of their position, configuration and their tone.
  • Focus more on the negative shapes than positive shapes. If you do this exercise right, you would not know the difference.
  • Squinting helps seeing shapes.
  • To make the process of tricking your brain into not-knowing more effortless, take turns seeing only all the black shapes and coloring just those shapes; then - seeing only all the white shapes and drawing just them.
  • What helps to hold all these nonsensical upside-down abstract shapes in your attention, is naming them as things that they resemble (you will begin to see a lot of Dr. Seuss characters).
  • The only areas that should remain white on your drawing (where you keep the white paper) are the lightest areas on the photo (the ones that look the lightest when you squint).
  • How do you know if you’re doing it right? If you are having fun. If you are complaining, it means that you are not looking at shapes, but have been trying to draw objects. Switch to shapes!
  • Sign it. Place it at a distance right side up - and you’ll be surprised!

If you're using charcoal, soft pastel, or conté crayon, you will need fixative spray. Click here for a natural fixative spray that you can spray inside. Click here for a fixative spray that needs to be used outside. Click here to learn how to spray your artworks.

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