Category Archives: schizophrenia

Artistic Characteristics of the Right Brain and Left Brain

Do all artists use the right side of their brains? As the region of the brain that hosts creativity, imagination and art awareness, it seems so. However, more people are finding their inner artist can be awakened no matter what side of the brain dominates.

For a long time, humans believed we only used one side of the brain. Today, most people know about the stereotypes between the right and left sides of our brains. This is because thousands of studies have been conducted on the human brain and the way it works. While we still don’t know much about its vast complexities, we do know a lot more than we used to. For instance, we know that the brain communicates between its two halves and its many lobes.

What connects the halves of a brain are bands of fibers that serve as electronic information paths. In most cases, we use both sides of our brain, but typically one side is dominant. This is not the case for some individuals as is true for people who struggle with autism, wherein both sides of the brain have no fibers connecting the two halves.

Where do you fit into this complex picture? Do you know if you’re a right brained or left brained artist?

Here are some strengths and characteristics of right-brained dominant and left brained dominant people…

Left

  • Mathematics
  • Analytical thought
  • Speech
  • Writing
  • Logic and reasoning

Right

  • Creativity
  • Imagination
  • Identifying with emotions
  • Philosophy
  • Art awareness

After reviewing this list, you, as an artist, may want to gravitate towards the right side. It makes sense right? (Pun intended!) Do these qualities seem to manifest them into yourself as an artist?

WARNING: Don’t be so quick to assume that all left brained thinking is cold and analytical, and the right is all creativity and ingenuity. Some incredible bodies of work and research explain that, due to the nature of our brains, it is impossible to be pigeonholed into one type of thinking per individual. There are always exceptions, and the flat out truth is that almost all of us blend the use of both sides of our brain.

So how does this affect your artwork? Take the opportunity to research some of your favorite artists and their works, and research what type of thinker they were.  While you’re at it, explore articles about some of the many other characteristics of the right and left sides of the brain. You just might be surprised.

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An Overview of Outsider Art www.segmation.com

Pencils and Colored Pencil drawing by Adolf Wolfli

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It is well-documented that art-making can have a healing effect, especially for those suffering from emotional or physical pain. Making art allows people of all ages and all levels of ability to express themselves visually, in a way that transcends the limitations of verbal language. For many, it is a therapeutic process, even if they are not consciously aware of it.

Art-making can be a useful creative outlet for those afflicted with schizophrenias or other psychoses. In 1948, French artist Jean Dubuffet coined the term “art brut” (called “Outsider Art” in English) to refer to artworks created by men and women who created work “outsides” of the known art world. He was especially interested in the work of art created by people in mental institution, although the term “outsider art” refers to anyone who creates art outside of mainstream conventions, and not just those with mental illnesses.

Outsider artists have no background in art; they are not schooled in the lessons of art history. They do not seek fortune, fame, or acclaim for their art. Therefore, Dubuffet says, the work of outsider artists is more pure and creative than those who have an education in art, because their work comes from their “authentic creative impulses”. The work of outsider artists is truly created as art for art’s sake – although those creating it may not even know that they are creating “art” at all.

Famous Outsider Artists include Adolf Wolfli, Augustin Lesage, and Henry Darger (although it is worth noting that they never sought fame and instead, became well-known due to public interest in their work). They and their fellow outsider artists created a range of materials, from pens to yarns to seashells – in effect, turning anything they could find into art. The most notable characteristic that is shared amongst many works of Outsider Art is the impressive amount of detail that often goes into the pieces, as you can see in Adolf Wolfli’s drawing above.

The Collection de l’Art Brut in Lausanne, Switzerland houses Jean Dubuffet’s collection of thousands of works of Outsider Art. For those interested in leaning more about Art Brut and seeing an impressive collection in person, the Collection de l’Art Brut is well worth a visit.

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