Art students who cannot draw: exploring the relations between drawing ability, visual memory, accuracy of copying and dyslexia

Riley, Howard and McManus, Christopher and Chamberlain, Rebecca and Brunswick, Nicola and Rankin, Qona and Loo, Phik-Wern (2010) Art students who cannot draw: exploring the relations between drawing ability, visual memory, accuracy of copying and dyslexia. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts, 4 (1). pp. 18-30.

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This article in the journal of the American Psychology Association is the culmination of research resulting from collaborative inquiry into the question: is there a relationship between art students’ drawing ability and factors such as dyslexia, mathematical ability or personality traits, and could these relationships inform strategies for the teaching of drawing to art students of mixed abilities? A cross-disciplinary team was formed, including two psychologists (McManus, UCL and Brunswick, Middlesex Univ.), two PhD students (Chamberlain and Loo, UCL), Rankin, coordinator for dyslexic students at the RCA , and Riley. The objective is to design pedagogical strategies for the teaching of drawing to art students who would otherwise be excluded from developing best practice through traditional teaching techniques which do not take into consideration the wide range of psychological and cognitive conditions exhibited by art school student cohorts. An early research output explored the relationship between drawing ability and dyslexia: Riley and Rankin, ‘Exploring the Link between Drawing and Dyslexia’ in BODDINGTON, A. and CLEWS, D. (eds.) 2007 Teachers’ Academy Papers: European League of Institutes of Art. Brighton: University of Brighton. pp100-104. ISBN 978-1-905593-07-1. A presentation ‘Widening Participation in the Practice of Drawing’ at the 2nd Annual Conference of the National Arts Learning Network, London, February 2008 proposed an eight-step teaching strategy based upon research addressing problems faced by dyslexics in the structuring of visual information, and this was developed in ‘Inclusive Practice: Researching the Relationships between Dyslexia, Personality and Art Students’ Drawing Ability’. Proceedings of the Include 2009 Conference. London: RCA. ISBN 978-1-905000-80-7 Available at: More recent research has identified a correlation between drawing ability and mathematical ability: ‘Inclusive Practice: Researching the Relationship between Maths Ability and Drawing Ability in Art Students’. In Proceedings of the Include 2011 Conference. London:RCA. ISBN 978-1-907342-29-5. Available at:

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Citation: In the journal 'Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity and the Arts' Vol. 4 No. 1 pp18-30..
Uncontrolled Keywords: Art students, Drawing ability, Visual memory, Dyslexia, Rey-Osterrieth complex figure.
Subjects: N Fine Arts > NC Drawing Design Illustration
Divisions: Institutes and Academies > Wales Institute for Science & Art (WISA) > Academic Discipline: Art & Media
Related URLs:
Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 12 Dec 2013 11:37
Last Modified: 05 Apr 2023 11:10

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