Tuesday, March 20, 2012

So I hear you would like to learn to Draw! Try Blind Contour!

I have heard that you would like to learn to draw.  I have some ideas on how to begin.
I have in mind a kind of drawing that is often overlooked because in the beginning, doing it can feel very awkward and produces hopelessly silly results.  Have you ever heard of “Blind Contour Drawing”.  I have taught it to 1st graders through adults.  It is designed to train the eye mind and the hand to work together.  When a student begins doing it, it feels like trying to play piano without looking at the keys….or typing without looking at the keys only it is worse, because there are no keys just your pencil and the paper.  Another goal in the exercise is to train you eye to observe and for your hand to “feel” every curve or edge with minute attention.  It is best practiced on organic forms like living or dead leaves; living hands, feet and arms; faces; twigs; rumpled bedding.(what ever form that is non-mechanical thought mechanical forms can be attempted).   

  This is how it is done.  First of all you need cheap paper and a pencil or any writing instrument and your hand and eye and a brain.   If you don’t have the first two items (paper and pencil) the first practice stage of this method may still be done if you have a brain and eye and hand( which I will assume you have).  I would have my student look at a plant, and with their finger they would trace the form in the air.    This is to help you get the feel of the shape in your arm movements.  It is part of the training of the eye mind and hand.  After you have done that for a bit, do the same action again, but this time “trace the inner or outer edge/ curve” with the pencil on the paper while keeping your eye ONLY on the object you are tracing.  Do not look down at your paper, no matter how tempting.  If I was there observing you, my ruler would come down on your head if you peeked at your paper!    That being said it is important at this stage to discipline yourself not to peek under any circumstance.   YOU MUST GO VERY SLOWLY, painstakingly slow observing every nook and cranny.    If you follow this to a tee, the result when you are finished at the end of this first try will be horrible and embarrassing.  But now is the test.  Will you persevere in spite of the humiliation?   Because such practice over time breeds unbelievable results.  I don’t know how much of this you need to do, but the longer you do it, the more you will be trained to see and sense more clearly with your eye   and you will feel and express with your hand.  The line in your drawings will become more clean natural and efficient.  Less tentative and scratching.  Next time I write I will explain why and how this technique works in the brain and how this technique of blind contour is modified for other types of drawing such as portraiture.
 See examples here 
And learn about classes to learn more here