ArT HisTorY

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Blind Contour Drawing Exercise

· Here is a fun and worthwhile drawing exercise, a favourite with drawing teachers to develop hand-eye communication. Contour drawing is essentially outline drawing, and blind contour drawing means drawing the outline of the subject without looking at the paper. The end result doesn't matter - what is important is carefully observing the subject.

· I prefer to slightly stretch the meaning of 'contour' to include lines generally, so that from time to time the line will wander across the form and back out again, capturing little details along the way. Make the line continuous, that is, avoid lifting the pencil from the paper, and most importantly, DON'T PEEK! If need be, work with your sketchbook under the table. If drawing on loose paper, you may need to tape it in place.

· Now, just draw your hand! Place the pencil near the bottom of the page, then looking at the edge of the wrist, begin to follow the line, going very slowly and steadily. Try to make your pencil follow every slight curve and bump. When you get to a crease, follow it in then back out to the side and carry on. Don't rush. Concentrate on observing every little detail.

· When you've gone all around the hand, stop and look at the end results. Funny? But look how some areas of your drawing are amazingly accurate. Sure, the large areas might be out of proportion to each other, but you will notice that some parts are far better drawn than when you were looking at the paper!

· Blind Contour Drawing Example - Face

· A Blind Contour drawing of a Face

· This blind contour drawing of a face has a fun, relaxed feel but was done a bit too quickly. I should have a lot more detail in the eyes, nose, mouth and hair texture.

· Blind Contour Drawing Example - Rose

· The shapes of organic forms, such as flowers, fruit and leaves, make excellent subjects for blind contour drawing. You tend to be more relaxed about them, too, and focus more clearly on the shape. Familiar, hard-edged manufactured objects tempt us to draw what we 'know' rather than what we see. The unexpected forms of a flower encourage us to look really hard and trust our eyes. This is the whole point of blind contour drawing. Observing, and allowing your hand to follow your eyes. The end result doesn't really matter. I'm rather pleased with this one - the attention to detail is better, but still with a nice line quality.