From time to time it my art ramblings here I've referred to hemispheric dominance. No, that's not US foreign policy, that refers to which hemisphere of our brains dominates our personalities and behavior. Perhaps you'll recall I've discussed before, right-brained drawing techniques (from life) and left-brain drawing (using grids, mathematical proportions, and such from photos or other diagrams). Although such references have become commonplace among educators, and those members of the helping professions involved in SHRINKING the brain, I wonder if most people have much of a grasp as to what they mean and more importantly, which they ARE. Who cares? Well, for artists in particular, it's important because it often indicates (as I mentioned before) the type of drawing skills in which they are strongest as well as a lot about their work habits and creative thought processes.

In the proverbial nutshell, the left side of the brain (based originally on tests of stroke victims), controls the mathematical, logical, and literary functions of the brain. The right side, (according to EKG readings, also) controls the visual, auditory, creative, and emotional functions of the brain. In a matter of speaking, the left side of our brains tend to insure our survival as human beings, while the right side makes that survival worthwhile. Naturally, being artists, and creative individuals, we are most interested in the right side, or VISUAL side of the brain. So artists all right brained, right? No, fortunately (especially for art teachers), artists tend to fall across a broad spectrum of hemispheric dominance with perhaps only a SLIGHT skewing of the scales to the right. So, aside from intuitive indications, how do we know whether we're left-brained, whole-brained, or right-brained? Actually, there are tests.

My favorite is a fifty-question, paper and pencil, multiple-choice test developed by Paul Torrance for the Excel corporation during the late 1970s when much of what we know about the subject was being studied. Since then, much more detailed studies have come along adding great complexity to the field, but we, as artists, can do quite nicely with the basics. The test scores range from a -10 for the left-brained to a +10 for right-brained individuals. A score of zero indicates no discernible hemispheric dominance, which is surprisingly uncommon. There is not a good or bad score coming from the test just as being highly right-brained or highly left-brained is neither good nor bad. However studies have indicated those having equal facility using EITHER side of the brain interchangeably (whole brained) may have some advantages over the extremes. I've found, over the years, they are certainly easier to teach art.

(Anyone wishing to take a hemispheric dominance test may e-mail me privately and I'll send you a version of it I've developed for artists. You'll have to e-mail it back to get it scored, though.)