Right Brain, Left Brain & Creativity

by | Oct 19, 2012 | Blog | 4 comments


About our brain sides

For artists it is helpful to understand our brain with its two very different halves. These halves each have a different hard wiring, or different goals, for us. It’s as if both sides have their own voice, and in speaking to us give us different messages.

In most cultures we can easily find this idea of having two inner voices to guide us. For example, I’m sure you’ve seen cartoons picturing someone trying to make a decision, with an angel on one shoulder and devil on the other.

Our left side is our protector. It starts most tasks. It keeps us on the alert, and may think of the act of painting as dangerous. While painting we are, in essence, distracted from our regular life, and our left brain may feel painting is a risky activity. It willl often try to keep us from creative activities.

Our right brain doesn’t use words and doesn’t pay attention to time. When we are engaged in activities suce has skiing, meditation, dancing or painting we often feel we are in the zone. In these activities, to get into the zone, our left brain (analytical, judging, verbal) takes on a more subdued role, so the right side (spatial, timeless) can evoke the desired calm.

There are several books that focus on the relationship of creativity with brain sides. A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink, mentions a new worldwide movement towards rebalancing our left and right brain hemispheres. The author theorizes that the high paying executive jobs now filled with left-brain information types will be replaced by the new desirables – the “creatives”, who are more in tune with their right side.

Our educational systems at present, mostly encourage left brain thinking. Schools can start to change curriculum so that students can exercise both halves, to enable creative thinking along with facts and analytical thinking.

Betty Edward’s book, Drawing from the Right Side of the Brain, offers many exercises to strengthen the use of our right side. It is helpful for everyone – not just artists and others whose jobs may require more creative thinking than analytical.

Unfortunately, our right side has been belittled and downplayed as the lesser brain functioning power in Western culture for decades or maybe even centuries. To be productive with our lives, to live a quality life, creating a balanced relationship with our left and right brain sides is important. The more we strive for this, the more our society as a whole, our world, will be a healthier, happier, productive and well-functioning place.

In Kimon Nicolaides’ book, The Natural Way to Draw he writes that while creating using the right side of our brain there are no mistakes. This means by painting using predominantly right brain, we will achieve the vision we want for our work with no mistakes.

In meditation, just as in creating art, it is easier and gives better results when our right side is dominant. It is interesting that both meditation groups and attendance in art workshops are gaining in popularity. Even the activity of viewing art offers another opportunity to utilize the right side as well.

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  1. Sneha

    Hi Nancy,

    Your work is beautiful. Nice to learn about the new techniques. My only request was…I was wondering if you can increase the font size while writing the blogs ! This would really help my already strained eyes 🙂

  2. Catherine Tonning-Popowich

    Thanks for all the insights! I love your paintings and your rich colors.

    Take care,

  3. Ann Marquis

    Thank you for taking the time to keep us informed about new ideas and techniques. I look forward to reading Pink's new book. Your new work is lovely. Congratulations.

  4. D. L,Morrison

    Many thanks for the books mentioned. They helped to create speculative thoughts for me which I believe help with creativity. Your new paintings look lovely on the screen and I wish I lived in Boston to attend your exhibition. Gold leaf is an exciting medium to begin with and your work adds to the drama. Congratulations!


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About Nancy

Nancy Reyner is a professional fine-art painter with over 30 years experience using a variety of mediums including oil, acrylic, watercolor and mixed media. She has appeared on television for HGTV’s “That’s Clever,” and authored several best-selling painting books with F&W Media. She currently lives in Santa Fe, NM. Read more.
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