13. Right Side Glossary

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Abstract Art.

A translation into drawing, painting, sculpture, or design of a real-life object or experience. Usually implies the isolation, emphasis, or exaggeration of some aspect of the artist’s perception of reality. Should not be confused with nonobjective art.


Consciousness; the act of “taking account” of an object, person, or the surroundings. Possible synonyms are seeing or cognition.

Basic Unit.

A “starting shape” or “starting unit” chosen from within a composition for the purpose of maintaining correct size relationships in a drawing. The Basic Unit is always termed “One” and becomes part of a ratio, as in “1:2.”


An egg-shaped oval, drawn on paper to represent the basic shape of the human head. Because the human skull, seen from the side, is a different shape than the skull seen from the front, the side-view blank is a somewhat differently shaped oval than front-view blank.

Central Axis.

Human features are more or less symmetrical and are bisected by an imaginary vertical line in the middle of the face. This line is called the central axis. It is used in drawing to determine the tilt of the head and to place the features.

Cerebral Hemispheres.

The outermost part of the forebrain, clearly separated into two halves on the right and left sides of the brain. Consists essentially of the cerebral cortex, corpus callosum, basal ganglia, and limbic system.


The main division of the brain in vertebrates, consisting of two hemispheres. It is the last part of the brain to evolve and is of critical importance in all kinds of mental activity.

Cognitive Shift.

A transformation from one mental state to another, e.g., from L-mode to R-mode or vice versa.


An ordered relationship among the parts or elements of a work of art. In drawing, the arrangement of forms and spaces within the format.

Conceptual Images.

Imagery from internal sources (the “mind’s eye”) rather than from external, perceived sources; usually simplified images; often abstract rather than realistic.

Contour Line.

In drawing, a line that represents the shared edges of a form, a group of forms, or forms and spaces.

Corpus Callosum.

A massive, compact bundle of axons connecting the right and left cerebral cortices. The corpus callosum allows the two halves, or hemispheres, of the cerebral cortex to communicate directly with one another.


The ability to find new solutions to a problem or new modes of expression; the bringing into existence of something new to the individual and to the culture. Writer Arthur Koestler added the requirement that the new creation should be socially useful.


A series of intersecting sets of parallel lines used to indicate shading or volume in a drawing.


In drawing, the place where two things meet (for example, where the sky meets the ground); the line of separation between two shapes or a space and a shape.

Expressive Quality.

The slight individual differences in the way each of us perceives and represents our perceptions in a work of art. These differences express an individual’s inner reactions to the perceived stimulus as well as the unique “touch” arising from individual physiological motor differences.

Eye Level.

In perspective drawing, a horizontal line onwhich lines above and below it in the horizontal plane appear to converge. In portrait drawing, the proportional line that divides the head in half horizontally; the location of the eyes at this halfway mark on the head.


A way to portray forms on a two-dimensional surface so that they appear to project from or recede behind a flat surface; a means of creating the illusion of spatial depth in figures or forms.


The particular shape of a drawing or painting surface—rectangular, circular, triangular, etc.; the proportion of the surface, e.g., the relationship of the length to the width in a rectangular surface.


Evenly spaced lines, running horizontally and vertically at right angles, that divide a drawing or painting into small squares or rectangles. Often used to enlarge a drawing or to aid in seeing spatial relationships.

Hemispheric Lateralization.

The differentiation of the two cerebral hemispheres with respect to function and mode of cognition.


In terms of cognitive functions, the simultaneous processing of an array of information in a total configuration as opposed to sequential processing of its separate parts.


Verb: to call up in the mind a mental copy of something not present to the senses; see in the “mind’s eye.” Noun: a retinal image; the optical image of external objects received by the visual system and interpreted by the brain.


A recombination of mental images from past experiences into a new pattern.


Direct and apparently unmediated knowledge; a judgment, meaning, or idea that occurs to a person without any known process of reflective thinking. The judgment is often reached as a result of minimal cues and seems to “come from nowhere.”


In drawing, the lightness or darkness of an image. A high-key drawing is light or pale in value; a low-key drawing is dark or low in value.


Any relatively permanent change in behavior as a result of experience or practice.

Left Hemisphere.

The left half (oriented according to your left) of the cerebrum. For most right-handed individuals and a large proportion of left-handed individuals, verbal functions are in the left hemisphere.


A state of information processing characterized as linear, verbal, analytic, and logical.

Negative Spaces.

The areas around positive forms that share edges with the forms. Negative spaces are bounded by the outer edges by the format. “Interior” negative spaces can be part of positive forms: For example, the whites of the eyes can be regarded as interior negative spaces useful for drawing the irises.

Nonobjective Art.

Art that makes no attempt to reproduce the appearance of real-life objects or experiences or to produce the illusion of reality. Also called “nonrepre-sentational art.”


The awareness, or the process of becoming aware, of objects, relations, or qualities—either internal or external to the individual—by means of the senses and under the influence of previous experiences.

Picture Plane.

An imaginary construct of a transparent plane, like a framed window, that always remains parallel to the vertical plane of the artist’s face. The artist draws on paper what he or she sees beyond the plane as though the view were flattened on the plane. Inventors of photography used this concept to develop the first cameras.

Realistic Art.

The objective depiction of objects, forms, and figures attentively perceived. Also called “naturalism.”

Right Hemisphere.

The right half (oriented according to your right) of the cerebrum. For most right-handed individuals and a large proportion of left-handed individuals, spatial, relational functions are in the right hemisphere.


A state of information processing characterized as simultaneous, holistic, spatial, and relational.


In drawing, checking points, distances, degrees of angles relative to vertical or horizontal, relative sizes, etc.


In drawing, measuring relative sizes by means of a constant measure (the pencil held at arm’s length is the most usual measuring device); determining relative points in a drawing—the location of one part relative to some other part. Also, determining angles relative to the constant’s vertical and horizontal.

Split-Brain Patients.

Individuals who had been suffering from intractable epileptic seizures and whose medical problems were relieved by a surgical operation. The procedure separates the two hemispheres by severing the corpus callosum. The procedure is rarely done and split-brain patients are few in number.

States of Consciousness.

A largely unresolved concept, consciousness is used in this book to mean the awareness, continually changing, of what passes in one’s own mind. An alternate state of consciousness is one that is perceived as noticeably different from ordinary, waking consciousness. Familiar alternate states are daydreaming, sleep dreaming, and meditation.

Symbol System.

In drawing, a set of symbols that are consistently used together to form an image, for example, a figure. The symbols are usually used in sequence, one appearing to call forth another, much in the manner of writing familiar words, in which writing one letter leads to writing the next. Symbol systems in drawn forms are usually set in childhood and often persist throughout adulthood unless modified by learning new ways to draw.


In art, the darkness or lightness of tones or colors. White is the lightest, or highest, value; black is the darkest, or lowest, value.

Visual Information Processing.

The use of the visual system to gain information from external sources and the interpretation of that sensory data by means of cognition.


A system of thought that emphasizes a form of meditation called zazen. Zazen begins with concentration, often on puzzles wholly impervious to solution through reason. Concentration leads to samadhi, a “state of one-ness” in which the meditator gains insight into the unity of things in the world. The meditator strives to move through further stages to the final stage of Zen, satori, or “no mind,” a brilliantly clear state of mind in which the details of every phenomenon are perceived, yet without evaluation or attachment.