Drawing & Painting Lessons
with Edward Burke
Blind Contour Drawing 2 - An Exercise in Seeing
Drawing Assignment: Feeling your way around the form.
Materials: 6B wood or woodless graphite pencil, 18 x 24 multipurpose drawing paper.
Exercise: Select a subject, such as a person or an object
Draw the subject without looking at the drawing paper. You must resist the temptation to "peek" at your paper. If you look once, you will not be able to continue without looking again and again. This type of drawing takes a great deal of concentration and focus. A good way to describe the blind contour drawing process is that you are learning to see through your sense of touch. If you imagine that the point of your pencil is on the edge of the subject you are drawing, the same position where your eyes are on the subject, start moving your eyes very slowly along the contours of the subject and allow your pencil on the paper to feel all of the details that your eyes see.
Use a continuous line - do not take your pencil off the paper.
Proceed carefully. Concentrate, focus, and draw the object as if you are tracing or feeling your way around the contours of the form.
Keep the line "fluid" but do not scribble. Move your pencil in a slow and steady pace much like tracing.
Follow both outside and inside contours. Inside contours are called "cross contours." They follow the form much like a string would do if it were wrapped around the object you are drawing. This is not an outline drawing; an outline drawing defines only two dimensions: length and width. The blind contour drawing you are creating defines three dimensions: length, width, and depth. The cross contour line is what defines the third dimension (depth).
Fill the page. Draw large and don’t be afraid if your drawing runs off the paper in any or all directions.
Do not be concerned about how your drawing will "look." This is an important exercise in "seeing." You will be drawing the object(s) as you see them, not as you think you know them!
Do not judge this drawing by the standards you usually use to assess your drawings. If you carefully follow the guidelines above, believe it or not, you will find great satisfaction in the results!