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Kirstein Gonzalez–blind contour

The blind contour drawing experience usually elicits strong feelings one way or another, which is why I always like to include at least a day of it in the visual thinking class. Some artists consider the blind contour an excellent way of warming up to get ready for a precision drawing based on observation, while other artists use the technique as a destination skill–a way to capture the essence or spirit of an object without the burden of realistic rendering. Elle  describes  everything I would hope a student could get from this lesson in her sensitive, well-written and descriptive entry “Drawing with my eyes Closed” (excerpt:)

Then it clicked with me: this isn’t an exercise about drawing, it’s about seeing. The lines on the paper only tell the story of what you saw, kind of like a lab notebook in squiggle form. The drawing is not supposed to be photo realistic. What matters is that I connected my eyes to my arm and recorded the lines I perceived in the hand.

Check out the range of experiences of this exercise.  Alex said:

I really hated it! I felt so out of control….One thing I found interesting was that I was less frustrated when I was drawing blind contour with my left hand. I think this was because since i am right-handed, I felt better about drawing “badly”. It was like because I was drawing with my left hand, I was given permission to draw badly and be out of control.

But Elle said:

This class in particular was relaxing and a real pleasure to participate in….the further on in class we got the more comfortable I was with letting go and letting whatever happened happen.  When I looked at what I had done I was always surprised.  What I drew and what I saw in my head were completely different.

Kristin Bell Blind Contour

Other interesting ideas that came out of the day are Anahita’s thought:

there’s so much you can’t see in an object (or a face!) at first, second, or even third glance, but being forced to look at the same lines over and over really makes it impossible not to see how they relate to each other. Quite apart from that, I found the drawings just plain fun (when they weren’t mildly exasperating).

and Polly, who made me laugh out loud in her post when she said: “I actually love myself”. She was talking about her portrait, but it reminded me of one of the reasons I like this assignment, which is that it forces you to drop the idea of seeing your self as something to judge as good or bad / ugly or pretty, but instead to see it (your body/face/hands)  in terms of form alone, which seems pointless to judge. I mean, is a triangle more perfect than a square? [Only when the triangles in power need the squares to fail…but I digress.] Polly offers a sensitive take on the assignment in her process description “Stinky Feet” (provocative header!):

Drawing blindly is extremely difficult but it definitely frees your mind and relinquishes your control.  I don’t believe that even if you tried to have control over this activity that you could.

The arty brain side takes over no matter what because you are BLIND. Especially, with music on in the background.

Syedah draws Michelle

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