WoodCentral's video reviews

Left Brain / Right Brain,
"Developing Signature Work"

by Cindy Drozda & David Nittmann

Cindy Drozda: 2009
DVD, 58 min., $29.95

First, let me say right at the start that this is a totally different type of woodturning video. To my knowledge there is nothing else like it in the woodturning DVD library. If you are looking for a DVD to show you how to better orient your wood blanks, use your turning tools or finish your work you need to look elsewhere. (As a side note, Cindy has some other DVD's that cover most of those subjects brilliantly.) But if you are looking for a way to be more creative or a better technician and work toward being a woodturning artist with recognizable signature work, this DVD is for you.

The Left Brain / Right Brain DVD was recorded live during a presentation at the 2009 Utah Woodturning Symposium. It is not a highly polished production and in fact David and Cindy read from a prepared outline during the filming. It is, however, a well prepared and entertaining presentation that explores the limitations many of us face being either left- or right-brained by nature. The recognition of these normal limitations and learning to leave your comfort zone and delve into the "other side" of you brain will enable you to become a better turner and artist. If all this sounds like heady stuff (no pun intended), it can be. There are volumes of articles and books on the subject. It's a difficult subject to read about and then train yourself to overcome. This video entertainingly presents this subject in a different manner. You can visually watch as David and Cindy play out their right and left hand roles.

I've attended demonstrations given by both Cindy and David. They are the perfect pair to present this material. Cindy, by her nature and early work experience, is a left-brain example. She is an excellent technician. Her tool control is superb. She plans her pieces, does diagrams and preplans each step. The work she produces is spectacularly beautiful.

David works another way. If you have never seen David do a demonstration, I would encourage you to do so. He is full of energy. David seems to bounce around the room like Tigger in Winnie The Pooh. His creativity flows as if it knows no bounds. During a airbursh demo I attended, he would simply mention a paint product called "Voodoo Dust" and a big smile would envelop his face and his eyes would glow with a mysterious sparkle captivating all in attendance. David (at least for the presentation) claimed not to be a technician, a planner or diagram type of turner. He likes to let the visual ideas flow as he works.

As Cindy and David play out their roles and give verbal and visual examples of left- and right-brain tendencies, they also discuss how one grows and develops an individual style in their work. Surprisingly, they recommend copying works of other advanced and professional turners. The were not advocating selling these copies but rather using them as a means to learn techniques and more importantly develop one's own style. By turning the same pieces over and over, a turner starts making modifications, experiments with different ideas and form, and the creativity starts to flow. David and Cindy feel that eventually the process, along with balancing the left- and right-brain traits, will lead budding artists to find their own path and a signature style.

In the final chapter of the DVD, David and Cindy each turn a copy of a vessel, Cindy by the left-brain method and David by the right. After a brief critique, they turn a piece together, combining the left- and right-brain methods and eventually, hilariously reversing roles as they demonstrate the left and right brain conversation that should be going on in the artist's head as he tries to balance his creative side with his technical side. As I was laughing at the process, it dawned on me I understood what they were trying to convey. For me, this DVD was more successful in explaining the left- and right-brain dominance and how to balance the two than many of the books on the market. It was also much more fun to watch.
. . . Bill Clark