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The Wannabe Naturalist Magazine Edition 2022-1

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The Wannabe Naturalist Magazine Edition 2022-1
Lake Norman Sunrise

The Wannabe Naturalist Magazine Edition 2022-1

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

In this Edition:

Magazine Edition 22-1 Cover Spread

The first issue of 2022 of The Wannabe Naturalist magazine (Edition 2022-1) is available now. Inside this issue we look at the relationship between photography and storytelling, and nature, the environment, and life.

  • Photography Destination: Lake Norman, North Carolina
  • Gardeners Know the Dirt: The Pipevine Swallowtail Butterfly
  • Nature: Turkey Vultures
  • What to Read: Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain: The Definitive, 4th Edition

Is Drawing a Talent or a Skill That Can Be Taught?

I started hand-coding html (the language most websites were, and still are, designed with) in 1993—that was shortly after Al Gore invented the Internet. Initially focused on search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search with the goal to drive traffic to my websites in order to make the cash register ring. I soon realized that I lacked the artistic ability to design a website that was aesthetically pleasing. With that in mind, I enrolled in an intensive design course offered by the UCSD Design Art Center in San Diego. I loved it.

Eighteen months of intensive graphic and web design, art appreciation, and photography. What opened my eyes (literally) was a book called Drawing with the Right Side of the Brain (read more about this book in The Wannabe Naturalist magazine). Up until this point of my life, I considered myself a “left brain” person.

My training and education is as an accountant, and I spent hours and hours analyzing the traffic to my websites with pivot tables, charts, and graphs. After that my musical, artistic, and creative talents were always downplayed—until reading this book and realized that, like reading, drawing is a skill that can be taught and learned. Therefore, the way I looked at the world and photographed it changed.

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain

Learning to draw, like learning to read, does not depend on artistic talent. Given proper instruction, anyone can to learn to draw. In other words, with proper instruction people can learn to transfer the basic perceptual components of drawing onto paper.

I was firmly in the I-cannot-draw camp: “Drawing? Not on your life! I can’t even draw a straight line!” Then I the realized that drawing is simply a skill that can be taught and learned by anyone who has learned other skills, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Let’s compare the skills of reading and drawing to see how this works.

Drawing, like reading, is a skill made up of several components that can be learned step-by-step. In addition, with practice, the components meld seamlessly into the art of drawing. For instance, according to Betty Edwards, author of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, the basic components of drawing are:

  1. The perception of edges (seeing where one thing ends, and another starts)
  2. The perception of spaces (seeing what lies beside and beyond an object)
  3. The perception of relationships (seeing in perspective and in proportion)
  4. The perception of lights and shadows (seeing things in degrees of light and dark values)
  5. Finally, the perception of the gestalt (seeing the whole and its parts—putting it all together)

The first four skills require direct teaching. The fifth occurs as an outcome or insight when one’s comprehension of the seen object comes together, a result of focused attention on edges, space, relationships, and light and shadow.

Reading, like drawing, is a skill that can be learned step-by-step. Similarly, reading teachers and specialists list the basic component skills of reading as:

  1. Phonemic awareness (knowing that individual sounds make up spoken words)
  2. Phonics (recognizing that letters represent sounds that make up words)
  3. Vocabulary (understanding the meanings of words)
  4. Fluency (being able to read quickly and smoothly)
  5. Comprehension (grasping the meaning of what you read)

As in drawing, comprehension occurs when the preceding skills come together as insight.

Human brain changes

Your brain changes once you can read. You can read anything and you can typically read for the rest of your life. Likewise, once you have learned to draw, your brain has been changed—you can draw anything that you see through your own eyes, and you can draw for life.

We use verbal, analytical left brain-mode skills as a major function of the left brain, and visual, perceptual right brain-mode skills as a major function of the right brain.

In conclusion, Betty Edwards writes: “Consider the fact that human beings are the only creatures on our planet that write things down and make images of things seen in the world.”Betty Edwards, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, The Definitive, 4th edition (New York: Penguin Random House, 2012), XXVI. I find this fascinating. Above all, her teaching through Drawing on the Right Side gave me an artist’s insight.

Eugene Brill,
Publisher of The Wannabe Naturalist Magazine

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Hours of research went into writing about anoles. For more than three years I followed the life-cycle of our backyard lodgers. This article covers FAQs from the book The Lovable Little Garden Lizards by Eugene L Brill, photographer, and author.

What is a Wannabe Naturalist?

A wannabe naturalist is someone that aspires to be an amateur naturalist. From birdwatchers to gardeners, they care about the natural world and want to preserve it. Someone that cares about nature so much that they want to study and preserve it.

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