Sunday, October 18, 2009

Contour Drawing

This lesson does not have a powerpoint that goes along with it, as the focus is on improving drawing skills through two simple exercises. (As an art docent, you needn't feel like you must have spectacular drawing skills yourself to be able to teach the lesson. The focus is on improving observation skills.)


pencil, 2 pieces of paper, and have the students have a folder or notebook ready to use to hold over their drawing

One of the tricks for drawing what you see well is turning off what your brain would have you draw, and increase the connection between what your eye actually sees and your hand holding the pencil. The first exercise for practicing this is called Blind Contour Drawing.

-Have the students take off one shoe and put it on their desk at an interesting angle. (YOU MIGHT WANT TO CHOOSE A COOLER DAY FOR THIS SO THE ROOM DOESN'T GET TOO STINKY!)

-Have the students hold their folder with their non-drawing hand so that it covers their paper. You want for them to NOT see what they are working on, as counter-intuitive as this may seem. Then instruct them to pretend that their is an invisible string connecting their finger, guiding their pencil, and their eyeball. Have them very slowly pick a spot to start drawing, and trace the edge of the shoe and then the details, all without picking up the pencil from the paper or break eye contact with their shoe. They should NOT be looking at their picture. This exercise forces the artist to focus on what they are seeing EXACTLY without being distracted by trying to make their drawing match. After about four minutes, finish; they may uncover their papers. The pictures should look strange, more like scribble or super-abstract art than anything realistic. This is an exercise in looking and observation. Do this a couple of times.

-Now that they have practiced observing in such a strict way, they can put their folders away and get a new piece of paper. Having the students remember the idea of the invisible string connecting their drawing hand with their eyes, instruct them to draw their shoe; this time they may look at their paper. Have them go slowly, drawing the edges and details of their shoe exactly as their eyes see it. The students should take about 30 minutes to complete this drawing and if they are really focusing, there should be very little talking as it requires great concentration. It is amazing how drawings will improve when the students focus on that invisible connection between their hand and their eyes.

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