Creative Exercise : Blind contour drawing

The first time I got to know the blind contour drawing method, was during painting class. I had to draw a tree by only looking outside to the tree, while drawing it on paper. The outcome was surprisingly appealing to me. Not focussing on correcting while drawing, but most of all really look at an object was inspiring and fun!


“Drawing through observation is a skill that most people are capable of learning,” says Terry O’Day, the chair of the art department at Pacific University, in Forest Grove, Oregon, where the Blind Contour method is taught. “The physical act of drawing consists mostly of developing hand-eye coordination. Anyone who can write legibly has the physical ability to record observations of a subject through drawing.”

O’Day continues, “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.”
There are different ways to do this exercise, but it is suitable for all. Beginners or professionals.

Materials you need:

• Paper
• Pencil, pen, marker or anything you like to draw lines with
• A timer (optional; did not use this)

Now the drawing can begin:

• Choose a subject to draw — still-life objects or the figure work well for this exercise. I used photographs as well.
• Set the timer for 20 minutes. You can also choose to draw very quick, play with it. I like to draw very slow. This way it is easier for me to follow the object with my eyes and stay focussed.
• Tape the paper to your drawing surface so it doesn’t shift as you draw.
• Arrange yourself so you can see the object you will be drawing without seeing the paper.
• Focus your eyes on some part of the object and begin moving your pencil to record what your eyes observe.

And remember: do not look down at the paper as your draw. This is probably the most difficult thing to do. Concentrate on the shapes, lines, and contours and how they relate to one another. Do not lift your pencil or pen from the paper. You are creating a one continuous line drawing. One starting point, one ending point. Try to feel with your hand where you are (more or less).


“Although this exercise can be difficult at first,” notes O’Day. “With practice and perseverance, it will become easier and you will learn to shift your thinking from an analytical, labeling mode to one that is more intuitive.”

So don’t worry if your drawing does not look like the subject. It is about learning to look. Your hand will learn to follow your eyes when practicing!




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