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Let’s Do a Blind Contour Drawing

blind contour of hand holding pencil

Blind contour drawing of hand holding pencil.

In my article titled Benefits of Art in Homeschool Curriculum I mentioned the right and left hemispheres of the brain. You can read that article if you click here.  Each side of the brain has its own unique job.  Learning how to switch from one side to the other can be helpful.

Today let’s do an activity to train you to switch from the left side of the brain to the right.  All you need is a pencil and a piece of paper with a couple of pieces of tape.

This activity is called a blind contour drawing.  You may be thinking to yourself, “What in the world is that?”  Well, it is not as complicated as it sounds. Let’s break it down.

A contour is the edge of an object. See the definition here.   Being blind means that you can not see. No, you don’t draw with your eyes closed.  You draw without looking at your drawing.

Here are the rules for doing a blind contour drawing:

1. Do not look at your paper.  I know, it sounds weird!

2. Do not pick up your pencil.  Your drawing will be one continuous line.

3. Do not talk.  We don’t want the left side of the brain in control. The left side handles talking.

4. Do not think the names of what you are drawing. That means if you are drawing a hand or fingers, you will not think “hand” or “finger”. Why? Because naming things is done by the left side of the brain.

I have found that it helps if you tape your paper to your work area. So, if you are sitting at a desk, tape the paper to the desk top. Turn your chair away from the paper. You need to be comfortable, but in a position where you won’t be inclined to peek at you paper.

What will your drawing look like? It might look like a bunch of scribbles.  The results are not what is important.  The process of learning how to switch from the left to right side is the purpose of the activity.

I suggest drawing your hand.  Start at your wrist and work your way from one side of your hand to the other side. Notice every little crevice and crease in your skin, in the contour of your hand and fingers. Look closely and try to put what you see on paper.

Blind Contour Drawing

At least I got the right number of fingers!

If by chance you feel you are not drawing on the paper anymore, stop. Feel for the middle of the paper and place your pencil down on the page again without looking. It doesn’t matter if you draw over other lines.

You may even feel agitated doing this exercise. That is okay. It takes some getting used to. For fun you might want to get your parents to do this exercise with you. Draw for 5 minutes and then stop. Look at your drawings. Have a good laugh. Then do another drawing. Place your hand in different positions or hold a pair of scissors.  Change it up.

You will be amazed at the improvement of your drawing skills if you practice with blind contour drawing. Give it a try. 

If you have any questions, give me a hollar.  Email some of your sketches to me or join the AFH Student Group on Flickr. Upload your drawings there.

I hope this has been a fun art lesson for homeschool students or anyone that wants to improve their drawing skills.

3 comments to Let’s Do a Blind Contour Drawing

  • […] Let's Do a Blind Contour Drawing | Art For Homeschool 25 Feb 2010. Your drawing will be one continuous line. 3. Do not talk. We don't want the left side of the brain in control. The left side handles talking Let's Do a Blind Contour Drawing | Art For Homeschool […]

  • Hi Angie. You are welcome. Learning about the left and right sides of the brain is fascinating to me and I love to share. How do you like doing blind contour drawing?

  • Thanks for the lesson. We are starting to work on Field Sketch Journaling – and this is the first exercise they ask us to do in the field as well, do the contour blind, then do a contour looking. I didn’t know the science behind the art – so I’m glad you explained the “why”. 🙂 Thanks!