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Interview: Betty Edwards
Author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

by Jessica Antonelli

If you wish you were more creative, this conversation is for you.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain is the number one drawing instructional book used in the world. Published 40 years ago, it revolutionized the way we think about learning to draw, by incorporating the then nascent field of neuroscience into arts education.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain has been translated into 13 languages and has sold over 3 million copies.

Today, San Miguel Sunday Arts is privileged speak with Betty Edwards artist and best-selling author of this fabulous book. We speak with Betty about her thoughts on creativity, learning to draw, its big-picture effects on society, the process of writing, and more.

Betty has been drawing since an early age. She got her Bachelors and Masters from California State University, and went on to complete a PhD in Art Education and Psychology from UCLA. She has taught high school, university, and adult workshops. She has written several other celebrated drawing books, including Drawing on the Artist Within, and Color: A course in mastering the art of mixing color.


00:00 Introduction
01:11 Left and Right side of the brain overview
03:45 Skills and insights gained from training the Right side of the brain
05:28 Effects of not teaching arts in US public schools on society
08:27 Betty's early education
10:19 Do you need talent to learn to draw?
11:33 What would it be like if we reintroduced the art in schools?
12:40 Do you have to be young to learn to draw?
13:55 What is the biggest enemy of creativity?
14:35 The 5 basics skills needed to learn to read and draw
17:52 Shame and trauma in art classes and students
20:10 If your brother or sibling was "the artist" in the family
21:16 Upside down drawing exercise --the revolutionary way to learn to draw
24:30 Tricking the left side of the brain
26:55 Battling distractions and frustration when you're trying to learn to draw
30:20 The difficulty of grading/evaluating artwork
34:55 The creative process of writing a book vs drawing
38:10 Betty's favorite art instructional book


"Art is discovery, of the highest nature."

"If you can learn to read you can learn to draw."

"Everything you need to know is right in front of your eyes. I was surprised that students weren't learning to draw..."

"There's a controversy that rages among neuroscientists, about where the [right side of the brain functions and left side of the brain functions] exist in the brain. I sort of ducked out of that controversy by calling those 2 styles "L-mode and R-mode

If you're an educator it doesn't really matter where the R[ight hemisphere]-mode is located, we're not cutting into the brain! We simply need to know the facts of those modes of thinking, and how to bring those modes up to conscious level."

"The school system teaches what is easy. R-mode isn't easy to fit into a system."

"You're in a different mental state when you're drawing."

"In untold numbers of people, there is a yen to learn to draw...Drawing came long before written language...maybe it's just fundamental to human beings to want to portray what they see. We're the only creature in the world... who make drawings of their perceptions."

Betty's Blog and Workshop Schedule:


Jessica Antonelli is an award-winning art teacher from Galveston, Texas. Jessica graduated with a major in Art and a Masters in Education from Austin College, and taught art for five years in Texas public schools. She was awarded Teacher of the Year award at Galveston ISD in 2013 before excusing herself from the standardized-testing obsessed environment. That same year Jessica moved to San Miguel de Allende and began Studio Antonelli, where she's been offering seasonal classes in drawing and painting for adult students ever since.

Jessica now spends much of her time on Galveston Island, where she's the Garden Specialist at the non-profit, the Young Gardener's Program. Luckily, through the magic of the internet, she's able to be in two places at once by teaching Draw San Miguel as an online course year-round.

Join Jessica's free online art community:

Take a class in San Miguel this November with Jessica

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