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this artist is really cool.  based out of Baltimore, MD now bloomington, ID

As we walked into the conference room in Dana Nell Ruby had written on the board:  Relax.  I am in control (even if it doesn’t seem that way.)   and had chocolate chip cookies- – we were in for a treat.

Blind contour is a technique that is almost completely opposite of what we were doing with the Chair in that we aren’t attempting to get the ratios or unit measurements correct or even close to correct.  Blind contour is a technique that allows the artist to experience the object by following the line, every line, that they see without looking down at the paper.  Without picking up the pen the artist must follow, very slowly, the line with their eye and with their pen/marker/chalk/etc simultaneously.  The whole purpose of doing the blind contour is to let go of the “perfection” quota we all feel we must fill.  Instead of getting the lines exactly perfect the goal is to see the lines exactly how they are, where they go, how they are in relation to the surrounding lines.  One way to help prevent drawing an object how we perceive it to be, is to make it complex by contorting the object or looking at it from a different position.

In these first few I contorted the shape of the hand so I would draw the lines I was seeing not the object I was observing.

Right Handed - juicy sharpie

Our only objective was to follow the lines of what we were seeing.  It seemed contradictory that in order to find the “truth” of the line I couldn’t check and see if it actually looked like the object.  What I had drawn on the paper could be recognized as a hand because of the the thumb creases yet that is not what is what is so intriguing about this picture.  What is intriguing is that each skewed line or sharpie “bleed-through” documents my unique experience with my hand.

Right handed - juicy sharpie

It took until the second round for me to get comfortable in the room and with the technique.  Nell Ruby stressed the importance of being in a calm, tranquil state when doing blind contour.

Left handed - juicy sharpie

When I used my non-dominant hand (my southpaw) I was more successful with the blind contour technique.  I contribute this to my thinking that my left hand is not where near precise so that I let my eyes take the reigns and let my hand follow.  That was fun.

Next we moved on to drawing the people sitting at our table

Left handed - juicy sharpie

This is Lathasia Collins…blind contour style.

Right handed - fine point sharpie (?)

One of these was done in fine point sharpie.  From my notes on how the fine-point sharpie was I remember it being restricting.  Because the tip was smaller and it didn’t feel as democratic when I was drawing the lines I thought they would come out mute.

Kristin and Kristein

For the last two portraits I used colored pencil.  These are the results.

Right handed - red/orange colored pencil

With Kristin’s I was positioned so that I saw her face and body profile so that the lines that i followed were longer and sort of took over the blind contour I did of Kristein.

Left handed - Kristein

I could only see Kristein’s top half of her and the pencil was very sharp/fine tipped so that the lines were mute (like the fine point sharpie.)



In order to further our “seeing” abilities by the next class we will have sat down for two 30 minute sitting to do blind contour.


These are some misc. quotes from class:

“seeing something you’ve seen again- in a new way – is expansive.”

“authenticity: a persuasive moment captured in time.”

“each of you has your own mark.”

“drawing is a brain thing.”

From discussion on Portraits: “contours became fluid.  It was cathartic to construct someone’s face without symbolizing them.”



One Comment

  1. Yay. Wonderful capture of the experience Phoebe–with visuals and in language.

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