Picture books and children. They go together like milk and cookies. Some picture books have one or two words to accompany the pictures, but it is the images that fill the pages. As toddlers, my kids loved the small colorful board books which entertained them with images and gave them something to chew on as well!
Robert Greenleaf, on page 22 of his 2005 edition of Brain Based Teaching: Making Connections for Long-Term Memory & Recall, shares research showing that when learners create illustrations they improve their recall of information by up to four times more than without the use of illustrations.
John Hopkins researchers have studied How the Brain Understands Pictures. Their conclusion is that the brain sees in wholes while at the same time allowing scrutiny of the parts.
Go ahead and try for yourself the Vase/Faces exercise that is referenced in the Hopkins article. You can use pencil and paper or do it online or even try both! At the left is my try from December 2001. My notes from then state that the chin was confusing to draw and I had difficulty determining which way (right/left, in/out) to go with the outline. Also noted was that I drew the right profile too quickly! I did the exercise from the book, The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.
On artist Charley Parker’s blog, lines and colors, he has an article about Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, which describes the class process quite accurately. I know first hand, having been a student in Brian Bomeisler’s week-long workshop in August, 2005, and then again in his Saturday sketching session in February of this year. If taking a class is not in your plans, but you are interested in the exercises, try the New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain Workbook: Guided Practice in the Five Basic Skills of Drawing.
The sketching session, in particular, reminded me that taking time to look and see absolutely enhances perception and understanding.
p.s. Posted from Paris, city of lights – yes – but also city of art where there is so much to see!