I mentioned Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, by Betty Edwards, in a previous post. That was the book that made it possible to learn how to draw.
Edwards's unifying idea in the book is that our minds have two distinct ways of dealing with the world. There is the left brain, which processes symbols, words, and logic, and the right brain, which works with images and intuition. Both sides are important and necessary, but the left brain tends to take control even in the places where it is not as good as the right side.
Drawing a picture upside down is an old technique for improving your skills. It works, according to the theory, by taking the meaning out of the drawing, so that the left brain gets bored and lets the right brain take over. You then exert your energies in reproducing the picture rather than understanding it.
Here is an exercise. Take your pen or pencil and draw this picture as it appears on the screen. Do not print it and turn it upright to see what it looks like. When you are done, turn it upright and see what it looks like.
I drew the original on a postcard that I mailed to a friend's son in Iraq, but he never received it. Perhaps it was because of the message I wrote on the back asking that it not be interpreted as supporting the war; which might seem a fair interpretation of the inscription. It remains one of my favorite drawings from the time before I learned how to draw realistically. I will post a copy of the original color drawing next week, but, if you are impatient, you can see it in my Zazzle store.
Take the time to do the exercise, because drawing is magical. You will never regret learning how to do it.