A blind contour drawing is where you only look at the object you are drawing, and not at the paper you are drawing on. The purpose of this type of drawing is to have your brain focus solely on the object – to really look at it and see it for all it’s details. Obviously, since you are not looking at your paper, it doesn’t always translate like you expect, but sometimes these haphazard drawings can be quite fun. Blind contours also have the benefit of improving your eye hand coordination. It’s a simple art exercise that does not take much time, but can build your drawing skills and produce whimsical outcomes. It’s also the perfect art exercise when you are on the go. Whether you are waiting in line for the Notre Dame in Paris, or sitting on a park bench in Washington Square Park, a blind contour is the ideal drawing exercise to capture that moment.
Blind Contour Drawing
Below is an example of a blind contour drawing I did of the Statue of Liberty. As you can see from the time it took to draw this, it is no master piece. In fact it’s quite crude, but ironically, even with the odd sizing and scribbly lines, there is no mistaking what this is and where I was.
Semi-Blind Contour Drawing
A semi-blind contour drawing (sometimes called a modified contour) is where you do allow yourself to look at your paper while drawing, but very minimally. So a quick glance to place your pencil back in the drawing (or replace your pencil if you have moved off the paper!) The goal is to again, focus your attention on the object itself and not the paper, but allow yourself a few furtive peeks! As you can see from my drawing below, the Statue of Liberty is a bit more detailed than a full blind contour and I do have a few more markings (like in the base of the statue) that are placed relatively accurately, but the drawing still remains quite expressive.
A contour drawing (or gestural as my drawing is below) allows you to not only look at the object your are drawing but also at your paper. Since I kept this quite gestural, it is still very rough, but does provide enough accuracy to clearly identify the statue as well as many of the details (the flame torch, her tablet, the draping of her clothes, the tourists, etc.) This drawing was fun to do after I had done the blind and semi-blind exercises. Did I see more details of her when creating my gestural drawing because I had already spent time looking at her solely with the blind drawings? With practice of this technique, I’m sure the answer would be “yes!”
Full Comparison of Blind Contour/Semi Contour and Contour Drawings
Art School Assignment
Now it’s your turn. Whether you are at home, heading downtown to the post office or walking the crowded streets of Bangkok, pull out your trusty sketchbook and give a blind contour drawing a chance. Do this exercise once a day for a full week. At the end of the week, take a look at what you’ve produced. Did you see any improvements? Did you find you look at an object or scene with a bit more clarity, now that you’ve done this several times?
Take one of the blind contour drawing from your week and now color it in. Use a loose medium such as crayons or messy watercolor washes. Try to stay as imprecise as your blind contour. Once the color is added, take another look at it. I’d imagine it will be quite a playful outcome!