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Bob Keiter, a new resident of Pleasant Hill, points out a detail in one of his drawings on exhibit in the hallway outside of May’s Café in the Uplands’ Wellness Center.

Bob and Beth Keiter were encouraged by their daughter, Amanda Rosenberger, a biology professor at Tennessee Tech in Cookeville, to relocate to the Uplands Village in Pleasant Hill. 

During January, some of Bob’s drawings will be featured on the art exhibit wall outside May’s Café in the Uplands Wellness Center. 

Bob Keiter was born in 1941 to a father who was a pediatrician and a mother who was a nurse. Throughout his childhood, he honed his powers of observation that have served him well in his later years. 

Bob is a retired psychiatrist, having spent his last practice years at the VA, treating combat veterans for PTSD, a practice both rewarding and demanding. 

After grandchildren were born, his family encouraged him to retire. In addition to visiting them as far away as Alaska, he began drawing his grandchildren and others in the family.

Bob did well in his high school art classes but this was a new beginning. His wife Beth encouraged him to read the book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain. She had been experimenting with sketches herself and found the book useful. 

Right-brain drawing methods were developed by Betty Edwards in the late 1960s and early ’70s and immortalized in this best-selling drawing classic Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, published in 1979 and subsequently revised several times. 

Dr. Edwards’ questions regarding her students’ struggles with drawing were informed by the work of Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Roger W. Sperry and colleagues who, in 1968 published research showing that the two halves of the brain have very different yet specific functions.

The idea of the different parts of the brain having specific functions suggested to Dr. Edwards that when we draw we experience a shift from our usual mode of thinking. Being able to make this shift deliberately and consciously is crucial to learning to draw from observation. 

She realized that drawing is made up of just five perceptual skills, which together form a global skill. Other global skills are reading, driving, learning to ride a bicycle, etc. 

Can you remember how difficult it was learning these skills? But now, you read a newspaper, ride a bike, or drive your car without even thinking about it. Learning to draw follows the same process. 

Just as once you had to learn the alphabet and how a sentence was constructed before you could learn to read. If you learn the component perceptual skills of drawing you will be able to draw a perceived object i.e. something you can see “out there.”

Neurosurgeon Richard Bergland, the one-time chief of neurosurgery at Harvard Medical School’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and author of The Fabric of Mind, declared, “You have two brains: a left and a right. Modern brain scientists now know that your left brain is your verbal and rational brain; it thinks serially and reduces its thoughts to numbers, letters and words … Your right brain is your nonverbal and intuitive brain; it thinks in patterns, or pictures, composed of ‘whole things,’ and does not comprehend reductions, either numbers, letters, or words.”

Besides those boarding school elective art classes, Bob once took a portraiture class at a senior center. His pencil drawings represent his own experimenting, practice, and skill. He has tried other media, but prefers the No. 2 pencil, using a tortillon (tightly wound paper shaped to a point) to blend and move textures and kneaded rubber to clean spaces on drawing paper. 

When finished with a portrait, Bob sprays it with fixative to keep it from smearing. 

He likes to capture old, cracked, or torn photographs, preserving them with his creativity. 

Using his iPhone to photograph the original, he sends it to his computer, enlarges it and then catches its essence and shape using his imagination and talent into a lasting work of art. 

This exhibit is graciously on loan from family and friends only during the month of January. 

The Wellness Center is at 55 W. Lake Rd. in Pleasant Hill. Enter through the main floor entrance and the attendant will show you where the exhibit is.

This week in Pleasant Hill:

The Grab thrift store at 9547 Hwy. 70 W. is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday. Note: The Grab does not have a public bathroom. Reminder: when schools are closed for inclement weather, the Grab will be closed also.

Tuesday, Jan. 14, noon, Pleasant Hill Emergency Siren Test.

Tuesday, Jan. 14, 6 p.m., Pleasant Hill Town Council meeting at Pleasant Hill Town Hall, 351 E. Main St., 931-277-3813.

Wednesdays, 6 p.m., Bible study and prayer at the Pleasant Hill Baptist Mission at 39 Browntown Rd. near Main St.

Recycling at Pleasant Hill Town Hall, 351 E. Main St., 2-4 p.m. Thursdays and 10 a.m.-noon Saturdays, 931-277-3813.

 Community bridge, 7 p.m. Jan. 16, Fletcher House Dining Room, all welcome. Call 931-277-5977.

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