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A Drawing Exercise to Stimulate Your Creativity

Stand on your head and draw your non-dominant hand (kidding!).

Last week I went to a workshop designed to 'Stimulate Creative Thinking' (that was the workshop's title). Part of the presentation included information from the book How to Think like Leonardo da Vinci: Seven Steps to Genius Every Day by Michael J. Gelb.

I'm still in the absorption stages from this workshop, but wanted to share this very cool opening exercise our group was encouraged to do.

We were asked to take a piece of paper and a marker or crayon and quickly sketch a self-portrait. Oh no, not the traditional either. We had to draw ourselves upside down with our non-dominant hand. And then sign it too.

The point of this exercise was to "free" our mind from habitual patterns and engage our right brain in a creative task. See, our left brain always wants to make things just so, but it had little say so in this exercise where many of us clumsily and uncomfortably tried to draw pretty pictures.

I was having a ball with mine. As someone who doesn't claim any rights to fine art skills, I didn't care how "imperfect" mine turned out. I enjoyed the teaching point of the exercise, and listening to the reactions of others in the workshop was quite amusing — especially since I had a seasoned fine artist sitting next to me. Later on I got a glimpse at another participant's drawing... as expected, we were all in the same boat and produced pictures that looked like they were drawn by children!

I scanned my drawing to show you how my picture turned out (see above). Of course it doesn't look anything like me... for one, I'm not yellow. :)

Now that I'm seeing it right-side-up, I can tell how my drawing perspective shifted during the exercise. It's almost like a mirror image of what I'd properly draw right side up.

I wouldn't be surprised if this exercise is common in many workshops on creativity (especially if Gelb's book is used). In fact, I remember first learning about the technique in the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Dr. Betty Edwards.

If you're up to it, why not give this exercise a try? Free your mind from habitual thinking patterns and see how easy it is to engage your right brain into creative thinking. •

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ęChris Dunmire, www.chrisdunmire.com.