Betty Edwards: world-renowned educator in the field of art

Betty Edwards is the author of the best-selling non-fiction books Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (latest edition: The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain) and Drawing on the Artist Within, Color and The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook.

Her work has reached well over 3 million worldwide. Dr Edwards books are now drawing classics and used as text books in schools and colleges internationally.

New Drawing right side of brain book Color book Newe Drawing Right Side Brain Workbook Drawing on the Artist Within
First published in 1979, this classic work has been in print ever since and has sold 2.5 million copies world-wide. For those interested in mastering colour theory and learn how to use it in paint, pastels and other media. Packed with right-brain drawing exercises, advice and tips. A practical workbook that includes an artist viewfinder. Not a practical "how-to-draw" book but fascinating if you are interested in creativity and how to access it through drawing.

The following material is based onThe New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain (Harper Collins Publishers, 2001) by Dr Betty Edwards (© Dr Betty Edwards). It is used with permission, from Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Inc.

The Origins of the Theory

The Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain® story begins in the late 1960s where art teacher, Betty Edwards, was puzzling over the fact that many of her students struggled to learn to draw when they were mastering new skills in other disciplines.

Another puzzle was that students, who had struggled, suddenly seemed to learn how to draw from one week to the next but could not explain why this was so.

Betty Edwards began to explore what happens when she was drawing. Her work with her students was illuminated by research published in 1968 by Roger Sperry and colleagues. Dr Edwards developed her theories into a doctoral thesis that later formed the basis of her book, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, first published in 1979. You can read about the development of her theories in this book which is still in print and has been revised and updated several times since.

The Global Skill of Drawing

After the book was published, Dr Edwards had another 'aha' moment. She realised that drawing is made up of just five perceptual skills and that together, to form a global skill.

What does a global skill mean? Other global skills are reading, driving, learning to ride a bicycle etc. Can you remember how difficult it was learning these skills? But now, I bet you read a newspaper, ride a bike or drive your car without even thinking about it.

Learning to draw follows the same process. Just as once you had to learn the alphabet and how a sentence was constructed before you could learn to read… with drawing, if you learn the component perceptual skills of drawing you will be able to draw a perceived object ie. something you can see 'out there'.

What are the Perceptual Skills of Drawing?
  1. The perception of edges
  2. The perception of spaces
  3. The perception of relationships
  4. The perception of lights and shadows
  5. The perception of the whole, or gestalt
The last one is a bonus as it just evolves out of learning the first four skills.

It Doesn’t Take Long to Learn to Draw

Dr Edwards also realised that you can actually learn these perceptual skills pretty quickly – in fact, in as little as five days. Once these skills are learned you simply need to practise them and improve them – and of course, master the specific techniques of other media that you might want to try.

Dr Edwards developed the 5-day Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain® course to teach these perceptual skills. The course has been refined and developed over the years by Betty Edwards and her son, Brian Bomeisler.

Brian Bomeisler continues the work his mother started and you can find out more about his work here.

Dr Betty Edwards’ Work on Creativity

Dr Edwards’ argues that the right brain’s strengths are undervalued and under-trained in our left-brain oriented culture, with its emphasis on the “3Rs”. She also believes that by training the right brain we can learn to use both sides of the brain more effectively and more efficiently according to their strengths.

Dr Edwards’ has presented hundreds of workshops, seminars and lectures for public schools, art associations, university students, technical and scientific staffs and corporate groups. She has presented seminars in creative problem solving to corporations such as The Walt Disney Company, Digital Equipment Corporation, Apple Computer Company, IBM, Polaroid, AT&T Bell Labs, American Advertising Associations, Saatchi & Saatchi, GE, American Dental Association, and the American Institute of Architecture.

Dr. Edwards is Professor Emeritus, California State University, Long Beach. Although now retired, through her books, workshops and seminars Betty Edwards continues to make a huge impact upon the fields of art education and creative problem-solving.


If you would like to find out how you can attend a Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain® course, as developed by Dr Betty Edwards, in the UK

click here

Alternatively, sign up for our free newsletter Drawing Matters and be the first to find out new dates for courses, what's new on the website, book reviews and more.

Enter your E-mail Address
Enter your First Name (optional)

Don't worry — your e-mail address is totally secure.
I promise to use it only to send you Drawing Matters.

Leave Betty Edwards to return to Learn to Draw Right home page

If you'd like to go back to Right Brain Drawing click here