Friday, April 29, 2011

Blind Contour Drawing

Susan R. Sorrell chiming in on April's Theme....

Since I am trying to refresh my "sketching" skills..I am getting back to the basics with Blind Contour drawing. If you are not familiar with Blind Contour Drawing, it is a method where you do not look at your paper as you draw, but follow the outline of an object with your eyes. You hand interprets what your eyes are looking at. I love this method of drawing because I can really capture the essence of a subject. 

Here is the photo of the tree I was sitting under for the Branching Out Challenge..branches for trees and me actually sitting outside trying to draw! The end result really doesn't matter with this method of drawing. It is training your eyes to see details and shapes.

Betty Edwards whose book "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" is a great one to have if you haven't drawn much and covers how to Blind Contour Line draw.

Try This Exercise: 

Try drawing your thumb and hand.

Blind contour drawing is done by drawing the contour outline of the subject without looking at the paper as you work. (See example at right.) Many artists use blind contour drawing as an warm-up exercise before a drawing session. Drawing is a very special skill. It's about coordinating your hand to draw what you are truly seeing.

When you take a pencil in your hand and trace the contour of the subject without looking at the paper, you learn to "feel" the lines of the subject. If your eye sees a line leans to the right, your hand pulls the pencil to the right. This "feel" of a line is very important. It leaps past logical thinking (which would be saying something to you like "get out a ruler and compass and measure that line exactly!") and takes you right into a special "drawing zone" where you draw what you see without thinking about it.

If you think about what you're drawing too much, your logical brain tells you what the subject "should" look like, and that's where a good deal of bad drawing comes from. We all have preconceived notions of how things look. 

(Lesson by Carol Rosinski of Toad Hollow Studios)


  1. Thanks for the explanation -- I'll try it.

  2. I LOVE doing blind and modified contour drawings! It is so much fun! Thanks for writing about this!

  3. Thanks for sharing this and explaining blind contour so clearly. I definitely need to do more of it! Such a great practice, and fun results too.

  4. At Parsons Blind Contour Drawing was the task I could not seem to see value in. Until years later. I suddenly understood that all of these excersizes are supposed to teach you to actually SEE what is in front of you. You can draw a coke bottle, but are you drawing what you THINK a coke bottle looks like, or are you drawing the coke bottle that stands in front of you right now. It was such a hard lesson to learn! It is so wesome that you are putting this out there!!

  5. I hate and I love blind contour drawing. But in terms of switching on your right brain it's a good trick. I snuck in a drawing for aprils theme by the hair of my chinny chin chin.


  6. Thanks for the comments everyone. Doing the Blind Contour drawing has really helped me concentrate on details and to see objects as they really are..not how we perceive them. :)


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