To continue on our sketchbook series, let’s look at doing contour drawings.
Above you can see an example of a blind contour drawing, where it is against the rules to look at your paper or lift your pencil. You keep your eyes fully on the object you are drawing– here it was leaves from our garden– and as your eyes follow around looking at the edge of the object, you move your pencil on the paper accordingly. The results of these are usually laughable and don’t connect up, but they do help you see the object better, because you are not distracted by trying to make your rendering of it. I’ve done a lot of these over the years, even doing one of just the feel of my face (see here) that I really enjoyed.
The “peek contour drawing,” however, is new to me, and the results really flabbergasted me. The only difference is you are allowed to look at your paper up to 20% of the time, but when you do, you must stop your pencil. The pencil only moves when you are looking at the object, not the paper. When you look back at the paper and stop, you can assess where you are headed, and a few times I picked up my pencil to start in a different place. However, none of the drawing was done while looking at the paper. See the comparing result below, although they were different leaves on different days.
What happens is when we are drawing something, our preconceptions come into play, and we start drawing short cuts and symbols of what we assume, instead of what is actually there. The peek contour drawing unplugs that tendency, and it is a revolutionary discovery. I hope you try it!
My goal now is to try doing this while plein air painting in pastel. To try doing that looking at my paper less than 20% of the time and only to change my color or to reposition for the next sequence. What will that result look like?
Learning to draw is like learning a musical instrument, or anything else for that matter– it takes practice. I’m opening my heart to practice drawing more, regardless of the fact that I’ll ultimately utilize those skills in abstraction rather than representationalism.
Let me know how this goes for you!