Is there an Universal language? Do the test

Universal Language is a communication acquired unconsciously. A knowledge, perhaps inherited, which allows us to read and understand a visual code. This notion came to me after reading the book "How to draw with the right side of your brain" by Betty Edwards. Besides presenting a set of basic exercises designed to release the creative potential and activate the powers of the right brain, she also reports other issues, one that fascinated me was her theory about the existence of an Universal Language. I consider a must-read book for anyone who wants to teach drawing or to learn how to draw.

Betty Edwards encouraged to check her theory with a test. Personally I've tried the test with my students many times, even with students of different races, cultures, religions, and ages and I must admit, the results always tend to be very similar.

The test does not take long and is a good entertainment for class. This is how you can do it: Spread a sheet of DIN A4 paper and ask the class to bend it in half, 3 times. Unfold the paper. The folds have created boxes that are use to separate the drawings. The test consists of writing a word (eight) on a corner of the rectangle and then draw it.

Painting classes test


There is one condition, the drawings need to be done with scribbles, spots, lines or doodles. Students should not draw recognizable objects or things. Nothing literal. First give one word to the class and give a minute to draw.Do this with each word. The words in order: Rage, Calm, Depression, Joy, Fear, Laughter, Irritation, Confusion.
Once the class finished, show the example from this page and compare all responses. Usually all will look very similar, proving the theory that there is indeed a visual language that is universal.

Why is this important? Artists need to be aware that in many gestural paintings and drawinsg they might be communicating something unconsciously.