Contour Line Drawing

A Continuous Contour Line Drawing is an exercise to help us focus on line.  The idea here is to create a drawing where you never lift your drawing utensil from the paper.  I like to use a pen on this one to help me resist the urge of erasing mistakes.  If you have never done this exercise you may find your drawings odd and “imperfect” but that is what makes them beautiful.  Also, focus on looking at what you are drawing as much as the drawing itself and do not stop moving your hand when you look up.

Blind Contours

"The reason most people have difficulty drawing realistically is not because of any lack of physical skill or talent but because they have not been trained to really look at what they see."   
-Terry O'Day, Pacific University of Oregon

The Blind Contour drawing exercise is a fundamental tool that can help artist of all levels learn to reaquaint themselves with the power of observation.  This method involves carefully observing the outline and shapes of a subject while slowly drawing its contours in a continuous line without looking at the paper (drawing blind).  By doing so, artist are forced to draw what they actually see instead of what they think they see.

This method helps artists improve their observational skills by instructing them to look at the lines, shapes, and patterns of objects and how they combine to form what we see.

1. Choose a subject to draw (your hand, a still-life object, or a person's face work well).
2. Set the timer for 15-20 minutes.
3. Draw in a sketchbook or tape the paper to a drawing surface so it won't shift as you draw and you'll know if you go off the page.
4. Arrange yourself so that you can see the object you will be drawing without seeing the paper.
5. Focus your eyes on some part of the object and begin moving your pencil to record what you eyes observe.
6. Do not look down at the paper as you draw.  Rather, force yourself to concentrate on how the shapes, lines, and contours of the object relate to one another.

7. Continue observing and recording until the timer rings.

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