The Computer Programmer as Artist

I have always harboured a secret desire to be more artistic - a quiet, private secret that I usually don't share. Perhaps out of embarrassment about wanting to pursue something impractical.

Three months ago, or so, I borrowed a book from the library called "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards. Happenstance? Destiny? Who knows?

I have picked up, over the years, various books on drawing. None have ever made me believe I was capable of doing more than simple scrawls on a piece of paper.

This book is different. Within 30 minutes of getting home with it, I started a drawing exercise - copying Pablo Picassos' 'Portrait of Igor Stravinsky'.

About an hour later, I looked at what my hand had wrought and saw that, while not perfect, there was more resemblance than I could have ever imagined.

Sadly, I didn't have time to do any more exercises and returned the book. I did, however, buy my own personal copy of the book.

This past weekend, I chose another line drawing to do (rider on a horse) and, again, I am buoyed by the results. My daughter was also impressed she now wants me to teach her how to draw horses (ha ha, I wish I knew).

Below, you can find both sets of drawings I did (and the originals I copied).

The "trick" in doing these drawings was to turn the original upside down; focus only on copying the lines and spaces. If you find yourself recognizing something - a hand, an eye, whatever - try to get it out of focus, forget what you are drawing and copy only the lines.

At the end of the exercise, turn your drawing upside down and you should have a decent facsimile of the original.


I have that book, and have done the Igor Stravinsky picture as well. It is interesting how drawing upside down can make such a difference. I think that's as far as I made it in the book, but it's still waiting on my bookshelf for me to pick it up again.
Richard said…
It's a cool book and I find doing that exercise is really good for the old self esteem (although, my wife may argue that my ego is big enough already).

I hope to get through more of the exercises. I really want to be able to draw. But, I know there is no instant solution, it takes time and practice.

I highly recommend you try picking it up again. Maybe we can compare notes / progress.
ingrid said…
yaay richard! very cool.
Anonymous said…
Also being a programmer, but one whose ONLY creative in programming or coming up with creative problem solving method, I had seen the book in a catalog and thought that I might open a new side to myself if I could get in touch with the "other side" (I am no analytical it isn't even funny).

Your blog and the resulting comments and convinced me to purchase the book and workbook (or maybe ask for them for Christmas - I know my Mom & Dad would like to get me something other than DVDs this year,,,)
an artist is born. Looks good. I should try it too. Love sketching and drawing... :)
Richard said…
Thanks Ingrid and Elvina - I can't deny that I love encouragement.

Anonomous there is no need to be shy. If you don't want to put your name, then just use you initials. I always initial my posts rr in places where I have no account or want to remain pseudo-anonomous - like here, which is not a bad place to ask C/C++ programming questions (just read the FAQ first :-).

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