30 Day Writing Challenge Day #30 (The Final Post) - Embracing a Week of ‘Blind Contour’ Drawing

The 2020 Year of Marilyn Bucket List  Challenge
 I started in January was embraced to push me out of my comfort zone and try new things. It was also designed to help me get back to work on things I've been procrastinating on, and to encourage me to revisit others I've tried in the past.  

Knitting and crocheting were the first skills I decided to revisit and I've haven't stopped since. From my octopi horde, to gifts for people, to my current project of 50 hats for donation to those in need, I've accomplished a lot. The trick I discovered to keeping at it was having something to listen to.  Over the last 10 months that has ranged from podcasts, to audio books, to even simple TV programs.  Once my mind is engaged, my fingers take on a life of their own.

Another direction I decided to revisit is blind contour drawing.  I am definitely more of a writer than a fine artist. I do find physical arts like sewing, throwing pottery or sculpting pleasurable. However, I struggle with mental imagery - envisioning a painting or drawing in my mind - which makes painting and drawing way more of a challenge.  The single exception discovered many years ago was blind contour drawing. 

I had some extra credits while in university to use up and decided on a whim to sign up for an applied art class. The first project we were assigned was to do a series of Blind Contour drawings. What is this? The artist selects something to draw, places their pencil at a starting point on the paper, then looks back at the object and follows the lines of the object with their eyes - never taking their eyes off the object. Simultaneously their hand moves the pencil on the paper, roughly replicating the contours the eyes are following. Until the drawing is finished, they never look at what they are creating. 

From Wikipedia - "The artistic technique was introduced by Kimon Nicolaïdes in The Natural Way to Draw, and it is further popularized by Betty Edwards as "pure contour drawing" in The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain."

THIS I could handle. I didn't have to envision the final product in my mind before starting or get caught up in trying to recreate something EXACTLY in the right proportions.  It was an exercise in letting go, in learning to coordinate what the mind saw and the body drew in a different way. The best way to describe it for me is learning to play the piano where you work to read the music and play the notes at the same time. As any pianist will tell you, they don't look at the keyboard to play a song as their fingers know where the notes are already.

I still remember the
first drawing I created. In fact, I kept that sketchpad for many years as I was so intrigued by the work the teacher pulled from me. My first object was a single tennis shoe with laces dangling.  The proportions weren't right and the line at the end didn't meet where I started. BUT there was something about the FEEL of the drawing that I found appealing.  I liked it better all askew and strange.  

What's interesting to note is with each attempt at drawing my final image became a little cleaner, a little more balanced. My eyes and hands began to coordinate their movements even though I wasn't looking at what I was creating. Those drawings never had the clean exact look of a drawing where you do look down and work to correct your final image. And yet, in my opinion, that is exactly what gave them their charm. The slightly off kilter replica offered an energy all it's own. 

As only a couple months are left
in my 2020 Year of Marilyn Bucket List Challenge, I think it's time to give Blind Contour drawing another whirl. Starting Tuesday I'll be doing a Blind Contour drawing every day for seven days. I'm not sure yet if I'll post them daily here or just add a start to finish series of drawings after I finish. But they will end up here one way or the other so be sure the check back.

Want to see how my bucket list challenges is progressing or get ideas on how to create your own? Check out my launch article at http://www.oliobymarilyn.com/2019/12/the-2020-year-of-marilyn-bucket-list.html.