The Brain Train: It’s All In What We See

Fast Company: Our brains are anything but static. When we have new experiences and encounter unfamiliar ideas, clusters of neurons are formed and existing clusters connected with previously learned behaviors are strengthened. Through the right kind of training, our brains can adapt to perform at higher levels than many of us tend to think—pushing us past what we believe our ‘natural abilities’ to be.”

“The renowned art teacher Betty Edwards made her name by taking people with ordinary artistic abilities and teaching them to draw impressive self-portraits. She accomplishes this feat not in years, months, or even weeks—she does it within a mere five days. In an updated 2009 edition of her landmark 1979 book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Edwards writes that once a person understands the technical components of drawing, he or she will progress rapidly—as long as they commit to focused practice.”

“Edwards emphasizes that most people don’t lack drawing skills as many believe they do, but rather seeing skills. She maintains that once she shows her students how to perceive things like edges, spaces, lighting, shadows, and relationships among objects, their ability to draw quickly improves … With diligence, focus, and time (and sometimes less of that than we’d imagine), our brains are wired to help us accomplish things we hadn’t previously thought possible. In fact, that’s one natural ability we all possess.”

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