Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Right or Left Brain, the Revolving Ballerina and my Art

This blog isn't for the faint hearted but stick with it and I hope it makes sense!!!

I have been interested in this right and left brain phenomenon for for some time. Why, having studied science and been interested in psychology have I then been drawn to art has always puzzled me. I should, according to all the research have a predominantly left sided brain the one connected with logic, language, reasoning, numbers and the right side responsible for more intuitive, creative, expressive, musical traits should be be the less dominant. Yet, whenever I take the tests you can access online to see where your leaning is I invariably present as more right brained. Has anyone checked the revolving ballerina?

Revolving Ballerina

So now I will share my theories. I believe that a lot of people have difficulty understanding all things scientific precisely because they do have left sided brains, the side responsible for logic reasoning, language etc and the reason for my thinking...... the scientific world and in particular the biological side of things is so fantastic and beyond comprehension that it defies logic and actually requires a vivid imagination to make any sense of it!!

Think of how a human actually develops........from 2 cells into a living,breathing, functioning, spirit housing individual. The complexity of how that happens and the visualisation at cellular and molecular level is more than most can contemplate and it is my belief that in my case it is my imagination that allows me to glimpse into understanding how life is possible.

I remember having my first son and genuinely being in awe of nature and if anything was a miracle he was it. When I came to have my second son I remember being so worried throughout....... doubting whether it was possible to create another such miracle, something so perfect could never happen again........... I simply couldn't believe that we could either be so lucky or that nature could work so well again yet for a second time there he was another perfect miracle!! To actually try and make sense of how these miracles can happen for me takes a lot more than basic scientific knowledge. Understanding how something so complex can develop from two cells full of DNA, the building blocks of life, is simply mind blowing.

Without going on too much further with this I also wonder just how much credibility these tests have.... they are pretty basic questions and while I appreciate the brain does have two different sides I think I also believe that most of us have a combination of both sides which we can switch on to whenever the situation presents. I find I am really quite a mix of both, am messy but can be methodical and organised, I remember faces rather than names, I am logical but also rely on my "gut" instinct, I think both in words and pictures and I have specific shapes for some things like the months of the year!!! I know "What is she on?" you must be asking!!!!

What I hope from this is that as I progress, I will start to access my right brain more and more as I try to become more creative and instinctive about my art..... I hope that by engaging that area, experimenting, playing and going with the flow, I will start to see more of how I want things to look, a process that has already started happening especially when working with colour... there is hope yet!!!!


  1. Hi Judith, These things fascinate me as well. I was doing an O.U. course some years ago called "Personality, Development and Learning" in which there were a lot of cognative tests which we did (we had to be our own guinneapigs). There was one of these left/right brained ones and it turned out that mine (according to that test anyway) was a perfect balance of both. I can see the revolving ballerina going both ways (given a bit of time for adjustment) so maybe there is something in it. Personality wise it makes sense to me as I can easily view the world from two seemingly incompatible points of view. I have no trouble with this and I think we all do this to some extent and the extent to which we do this may have something to do with the level of left/right brain dominance. There are many ways I have learned to access my rightbrain (and shut my leftbrain up) and some of them are even legal(joke!). I find music works, ramdom pattens (which is a bit of a mystery as it is a moot point as to where the pattern recognition part of the brain is located) but I think everybody can find a way in (this is the analytical left brain talking here). Anyway, good luck with this and I would be interested to know any tricks that work for you to access that creativity and would be glad to share some of mine with you. Cheers XX Pam

  2. Thanks for the great comment Pam.... I don't usually listen to music, I find when I paint I block all other external stimuli and just get lost in the painting, but maybe even if I'm not actually hearing the music it will register to my right brain and liven it up!!! Strange about the ballerina, when I started looking into all this I was so surprised to see her turning the right brain way, in fact I really struggle to get her to turn back and if she does, she reverts immediately. Occasionally if I look or think of numbers and words she will change but again only momentarily... weird!! Yes I will let you know if I come up with any good tips or hints for activating our right side and would also welcome other ideas you have......

  3. Interesting post Judith and I agree with your philosophy - I've not done these tests but I suspect I have a balance of both sides - I can be very messy and unorganised but when I put my mind to it - very very organised and like Pat I can see the world in seemingly incompatible points of view - I don't feel that I'm a creative person yet I love painting -but I tend to rely on a source photo for my inspiration and envy those artists that can paint instinctively from their imagination and memory - I also hope to become more instinctive and creative with my art which of course can only come with what you say, practice, experimenting and going with the flow etc. In the meantime we can all enjoy the journey!

  4. I think that as you progress Sharon, the ability to paint instinctively will come, I am definitely going to start having music on and see what that does, but I do feel something is happening and hope it will improve the "feel" of my work....

  5. I have my own theories on this - and it has nothing to do with the left or right side of the brain. I believe that creating art, like creating music, is emotional rather than cellular. I believe that we work outside of our organic 'self' when we are being creative. Just my view, but I do believe in this.

  6. I completely agree with the idea that creating art is emotional Brian, and I think the emotional side is the area I am keen to tap into. I wonder if it is just a question of how we describe how we do that..... maybe more a question of semantics rather than a difference of opinion. I wonder how much working "outside" our organic self is influenced by that very organic self? Does by how we react to our circumstances, experiences, environment then encourage the emotional response or is it the actual act of creating art which evokes the emotional..... or is this just the analytical left side of my brain grasping at straws here lol ?

  7. Funnily enough, I am currently reading 'a whole new mind' by Daniel Pink, maybe you have already read it Judith? If not, worth a look!

  8. No I haven't read......have just checked it out Roy... looks interesting, is it good?

  9. Judith,
    It is great to meet another zoologist and artist! Thank you for stopping by my site. This subject I find so fascinating. I'm sure you have heard of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. I think it is interesting that the artistic intelligence encompasses all of the others. Perhaps that is why we are able to do things from both sides of the brain.

    1. Yes have heard about Gardner, makes a lot more sense to me than those silly IQ tests we did as children!!! Am sure that most of us are a mix of all different types of intelligence, but it is the relationship between the scientific and artistic world I do find most interesting and wonder as I have tried to explain here if there is a bigger connection between the two than we might imagine and meeting so many scientifically based artists seems to reinforce my ideas!!!

  10. Another insightful post, Judith. And plenty of interesting comments also. I agree with Brian's insight also.
    perhaps if we painted with our left hand, that may also help switch on the creative side and switch off the analytical brain. A lot of left-handed sportsmen are very creative in the way they play their games..John McEnroe in tennis(although that temper might be a left-brain thing?) and Bubba Watson in golf(bends it like Beckham on every shot). I'm struggling just to paint with my dominant hand, let alone switching to the left. I read a golf tip the other day...squeeze a stress ball in your left hand a few times prior to teeing off...haven't tried that yet...perhaps squeezing a stress ball in our left while painting might help..or might confuse. Must try it someday.
    Great blog, Judith. Always a good read, and appreciated!

  11. Painting with our less dominant hand?? I read an article about someone who, because of severe arthritis took to painting with her left hand and produced completely different paintings... abstracts whereas her normal style was quite tight and detailed. Yes a lot of sports people and artists are left handed so maybe your idea to try a stress ball is a good one and might engage the right brain.... all suggestions gratefully received!!


Would like to thank you all for taking the time to visit my blog, why not leave me a message then I know you've popped by!! If you have any enquiries please send me an e-mail to