Art Thought: Fighting the Object Brain all the time

May 28, 2016 | 12 Comments

Doing another quick Palladio sketch as I have been reading about him a lot in the last 6 months. I have also been planning my upcoming online course SketchingNow Buildings, and this sketch is a good example of how powerful our ‘object brain’ is. I initially drew the dome in the wrong spot – in a central position – even though from the viewpoint of my reference photo is was more to the left.

We have to fight our object brain all the time!

My advice to you is: Don’t beat yourself up about this or dwell on your inner critic too much as this can be a barrier to actually ‘doing the hard yards’ and learning how to improve your observational skills and develop your craft. Instead, just accept that this struggle between our object and our visual brain is part of the process – and part of the fun! A huge part of my Foundations course was addressing the different ways of thinking visually.

I am not at all embarrassed to post this sketch showing my mistake as I find it simply fascinating that even with all my experience, when I work fast and loose like this, I still make find myself relying too much on my object brain rather than working more visually. In this instance, I know that if I had left the dome drawn in the original position no one would most people wouldn’t have picked up on this mistake, but it so much more interesting for everyone that I realised my error.

This is part of a working page in my sketchbook so I have lots of notes scribbled around the edges. The full spread will be revealed on Monday.

Happy Weekend everyone!



  • Katherine LoCurto says:

    Thanks for sharing this, Liz. It was during your Foundations Course that I saw you make a mis-stroke – the same kind of perspective error I was battling at the time. I watched as you corrected and moved on and that was my aha! moment. You are a fantastic teacher.

    • Liz Steel says:

      ha Katherine … yes when there is a lot of things on my mind (new challenges specific to being filmed) the object brain reflex comes back strongly! So in that lesson I drew a line in the wrong direction.. it doesn’t often happen to me but it did that day – aagh! – so I just kept drawing. I think the biggest thing is not so much that you dont make mistakes but that you recognise immediately when you have made a mistake and correct it, or work out strategies for minimizing them!

  • Tina Koyama says:

    Reassuring to know you still make errors like this — and are willing to teach from them! Thank you, Liz!

    – Tina

    • Liz Steel says:

      Hi Tina – I am always working fast, taking risks so yes! mistakes like this happen. I have an idea for two follow up posts on this theme so stay tuned!

  • Sharon Nolfi says:

    I’m not sure that no one would notice your mistake. I’m imagining the drawing with your initial positioning of the dome (and blocking out the one you ultimately drew), and it looks odd to me.

    • Liz Steel says:

      Ha Sharon – the hazards of bashing out a quick blogpost! you are correct, some people would have noticed the dome position, but it doesn’t look crazy wrong. Wrong for this very famous building which has the dome in the middle of the square form, but it still looked central on the front facade. I plan to do a follow up post on this. Thanks for your comment!

  • Charlotte Berwind says:

    Love you Miss Liz. Your kindness and gentle humanity comes through in every lesson.

  • Thanks for this post. It is important to realize we have an object brain and that it serves a very powerful and important purpose in how we deal with the vast amounts of information we are exposed to every day and in how we learn. However, it’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who sometimes forgets to turn it off when I pull out the pen and paint.

  • Pam Thorburn says:

    This sounds very much like what I’ve been reading recently in ‘Drawing on the Right side of the brain’, allowing the left verbal (object) side of the brain take over from the right brain. Drawing what you know, rather than what you see.

  • Yves Couture says:

    Even after measuring the angle of a roof in a photograph, my hand would not draw that angle… twice! I could not come to grips with he fact that the roof was not horizontal and really ran away from me down a steep slope.

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