Drawing: Hearing…Seeing ~ Ears versus Eyes!

Lesson 2


By the 4th grade, most students become very interested in making their drawings look “real”. The process of drawing is no longer reward in itself and often, this is the age where they think they either have talent or they don’t. If they are to improve their drawing skills they should learn to “get into their right minds”. Students will first make a drawing based on a verbal description (left brain) followed by a second drawing using techniques designed to access the right side of their brain.
Go to Lesson 1


One – two class periods


Students should have completed Lesson One and read the handout : Artists are… IN THEIR RIGHT MINDS! You will need to decide if the subject of the drawing will be a portrait or a still life.

If your students have already used the lessons on portraits from, Lifetime of ColorTM web site (http://www.alifetimeofcolor.com ) you may prefer to go with a still life. The Lesson Proportional Portraits would also sequence nicely as a follow-up to this lesson as students should be better prepared to draw what they see rather than what they think.


Teaching materials/resources

  1. Once you have selected the subject matter (portrait or still life) you will need to make an overhead transparency of that subject. A slide of the subject will work as well. For the sake of direction the subject will now be referred to as a portrait, but you can substitute still life if that is your choice. If you choose to do a portrait….it is fun to choose a famous or familiar person. Just don’t tell the students who it is!
  2. a slide or overhead projector
  3. prepare student viewfinders – obtain old slides and remove the piece of film from the frame. The remaining opening allows students to select a view to be drawn. All extraneous images are eliminated from the desired view.
  4. write a detailed description of the portrait (transparency or slide) that you have selected. Use numbers such as “8 inches from forehead to chin or top to bottom. “Three inches of curly, red electric-looking hair”. “A wide, toothy grin”. Student materials/resources
  5. 2 (12″ x 18″) sheets of drawing paper
  6. Design® 3800 pencils
  7. Pink Pearl® or White Pearl® erasers
  8. Sharpie® black permanent marker
  9. viewfinder
  10. Prismacolor® Premier colored pencils
  11. pastels


    1. Brain hemisphere
    2. Mind’s eye
    3. View Finder


    1. Gather materials
    2. Arrange classroom with uncluttered drawing space for each student
    3. Experiment with the techniques


    Introduction, small group discussion, large group discussion, step-by-step studio demonstration and experience, extra activities, assessment

    Group Discussion:

    1. Ask the class to rate their satisfaction with their drawing skills on a scale of 1-10.
      • 10 = another Leonardo DaVinci!
      • 5 = so-so
      • 1 = slightly better that a dog!
    2. Explain that if they are to improve their drawing skills they should learn to “get into their right minds” and that they try some drawing experiments to help them understand what that means. The first drawing will be based on a verbal description (left brain) followed by a second drawing using techniques designed to access the right side of their brain.
    3. Tell the students that they are to listen with their eyes closed, to a description they will be asked to draw. Explain that you will read it three times. Twice before they start their drawing and the third time when they are finished. They will have 15 minutes to draw.

      Guided Practice

      After reading the description, students begin to draw. Ask them to refrain from looking at each other’s work…so they depend on the words in their head….rather than the images of others. Remind them that this an experiment….not a test! If they ‘look’ at someone’s drawing….the experiment is changed! As the students draw, walk around the room… if necessary, reminding them of details is fine. “…eyebrows arched as if surprised”.

      At 10 minutes, tell them they have 5 minutes left. When the time is up, have them sign their work in a lower corner and title it From the Left.

      Collect the drawings or set them aside.

    4. Explain that they will now try to “get in their right minds”…. and in that once they ‘feel’ the difference, they will, with practice, be able to do it easily. But for now, they are going to ‘fool their brain.
    5. Guided Practice (TRY THIS ACTIVITY)

      Pass out view finders and explain that they are used by artists to select a view. In this way, they can choose what to include in their drawings and what to leave out. Give a chance to experiment. Explain that in this lesson, the view finder will help to eliminate everything else in the room from what they will draw.

      Display the portrait (slide/transparency/reproduction) UPSIDE DOWN. Explain that this is done in order to fool the left side of the brain. Have the students look through their viewfinders at the upside down image. Things look different when they are upside down and the clues normally recognized by the brain are confused, much like crossing arms and twisting them in Lesson One…fooled the brain.

      Tell students that they are NOT to look for familiar parts of the portrait to name…in fact they should think of the entire image as a variety of lines and shapes…. DO NOT TRY TO NAME THE SHAPES!! but rather notice curves, straight, long, short, wide types of lines.

      Notice where these lines come together and where they change direction. Everything necessary to put into the drawing can be thought of a lines and shapes. Their job is to ‘see’ how they come together, part by part, to make up the whole.

      When they are ready to begin, put soft music on in the background and ask for silence as they draw. Finish after approximately 30-40 minutes, stop the music and put down the pencils. Turn the drawing RIGHT SIDE UP. Sign names and title it In My Right Mind.

      Art Tips/Techniques

      Review the concepts of the lesson and consider the following:

    1. Look first, draw slowly! Drawing is not a race. Mistakes are made when work is done quickly.
    2. Begin at the top and notice where the first lines touch the edge and their positions. Slowly, follow the lines as they move into another line. Connect them as they intersect.
    3. Use the viewfinder frequently. The lines are like a map! Take them on the journey across the paper…where do they go? Where do they stop?
    4. Draw lightly, mistakes are easier to deal with. When the drawing is close to finish, lines can be darkened. Light mistakes are not as noticeable.
    5. Do not erase! turn over or throw away…knowing that they can’t ….slows them down and they work more deliberately.
    6. After drawing is compete in pencil, it can be redrawn using black pen.
    7. Selected color accents can be added with colored pencils….or a more subtle, soft look with blended pastels.


    Look at and compare the two drawings From the Left. and In My Right Mind (right side up). Review the concepts of the lesson and consider the following:

    • Did you create two distinctly different versions based on the same topic?
    • Could you feel the difference in working in one side of the brain over the other?
    • Was one easier? More enjoyable? Successful? Why?
    • In what way do they serve different purposes?
    • Are the expressive qualities of one better? Is one more realistic?
    • What problems did you encounter?

    National Visual Art Standards

    • Content Standard 2: Understanding how artworks are structured, and how art has a variety of functions.
    • Achievement Standard A: Generalize about visual structures and functions in artworks.
    • Achievement Standard B: Employ organizational structures and analyze what makes them effective in the communication of ideas.

    Supporting Resources

    • Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain; Betty Edwards, St.Martin’s Press
    • Drawing with Children; Mona Brooks, Tarcher/Putnum Publishing

    Source: A Life Time of Color