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Right-Brain vs Left-Brain in art… (& life)

I always knew I was right-brained.

… and my brother, Drew, was left-brained.

Camping in 1954

Perhaps not the terminology, but I noticed early on that, as siblings, we were completely different.  Almost opposite.

Drew built extravagant tree forts.
I collected moss in the woods behind our house.

Drew strategically placed hundreds of rubber soldiers on his bed room floor.
I painted my bedroom walls lavender and then re-painted a rainbow (see chapter 2, page 7 in F2F).

Drew read the entire encyclopedia. (every book from A-Z, no kidding)
I sketched my surroundings.

Drew excelled in math.
I loved being creative.

We began our teaching careers in the same Grand Rapids public school system.
Drew taught MATH and I taught ART, (duh !!!)

Drew later became a politician.
I have always been an art teacher.


Which brings me to another ART story that opened my eyes.

Excerpt from Forgetting to Fly, page 45.

In my first year of teaching on an early spring day (Friday the 13, ironically) I had a car accident that kept me in the hospital for days and recuperating at home for weeks. The forever Michigan snow had just begun to melt with the season’s first warm day. That afternoon, when headed home from school, the sun was setting early and the wet pavement froze. My car slid on the black ice into oncoming traffic and I was hit head on. I thankfully don’t remember anything until I woke up in the hospital hours later with my parents by my side. My lungs had collapsed, several broken ribs, and I hurt all over. The doctor kept me in the hospital for fear of pneumonia entering my bruised lungs, all along missing my art classes and my precious students.

Being an Art Consultant in the GR public school system meant I had 5 schools, a different one each day. I taught the students a lesson and also gave the teacher a follow-up art class to do before I came back the next week. It was a great program for all involved. I had 2 white schools, 2 black schools and one special needs program. The basic common denominator was…  all my colorful students loved art.
(In the 1970’s segregation hadn’t really happened so these white/black terms were NOT offensive.
I think they might be now?)

I was on morphine and the days melted together in my fog. The one thing that stood out in my mind during that time, was the many Get Well cards that my students made. They were told of my accident and made drawings for me that my parents put up on my hospital wall  where I could see them clearly.  As I laid there in my breathing machine, I noticed that the cards from my white schools  were all flowers and hearts, while the cards from my black schools  were all blood, guts and dismembered body parts. Even in my hazy state of mind, I observed the extreme difference in their drawings. I remembered thinking “Why is this? Why are they so different?”.

This was the exact moment in my life when I realized what I wanted to be when I grew up.

From that day forward I’ve always been compelled to learn more about this difference of perspective…
(hence my Expressing Yourself Through Art approach).

Back to the Right-Brain vs Left-Brain.

Were the students who drew hearts and flowers drawing from their right-brain? (heart focused)
Were the students who drew car crashes, blood & guts drawing from their left-brain? (head focused)
That would be the rational answer.
What I DO know, after all these years of study, is that…

They drew what they knew.

PS. Drew is spring gardening (right-brained) in the South of France where he now lives,
and I’m writing my eighth book on the Power of ART (left-brained).
Who would have ever thought?


Author Tamlin

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