The Cornell Lab Bird Academy Discussion Groups Nature Journaling and Field Sketching Focusing on Your Subject – Blind Contour Drawing

    • Curt & Jeanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I don't really see the point of blind contour. I think you can just do contour, not raising your pencil, but glancing down at your drawing occasionally to keep yourself centered and still strengthen your eye hand connection. Here is my newt blind and with glances. I like not raising the pencil and even just continuing into the interior of the subject.     IMG_2567IMG_2568
    • Karla
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      IMG_7144 Blind contours of the red newt and green-tailed sunbird.  Still feeling rusty with the contour, but had a great time at the New England Aquarium the other night trying to capture my favorite lobster at an event using microns and watercolor.  I just can't seem to capture the blue one though. :(   Lobster
    • Tanis
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      contour drawinghorse and plant After doing the course photos I decided that plants were easier to capture than animals.That did not prove true when I tried doing the horse and dieffenbachia. Both were difficult to contour draw. I tried using one finger as a guide to where I started but still had a hard time closing the gap. Legs were especially hard as the lines kept crossing over though the shape of them was there. Some of the points and curves of the plant and the mane of the horse captured the feel of what was being drawn. I think this will be an important part of what we are doing when trying to capture motion.
    • Crystal
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      5D882B97-935E-4ABA-BCBC-02E7806688C8 I did all the contours on top of each other in different colors, so it makes a very strange picture.
    • Heidi
      Participant
      Chirps: 12
      I felt that each animal was decapitated when I tried blind contour drawing, I can't get one end of the drawing near where I started.  Means I should perhaps focus on proportions better.  After i tried some trees outside and this was more successful.  They still look like abstract, but the essence of the tree is there.Blind Contour Drawing
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    • Donna
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      Ha! This assignment made me laugh. You have to have a sense of humor about your work and this assignment definitely helped loosen up. Besides the humor, it definitely helped me stay focused on my subject. It was hard to resist the temptation to peek at the page, though.
      • joyce
        Participant
        Chirps: 10
        Very difficult.  This is one that will need constant practice.
    • Joy
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      It was a fun exercise.  I am experience at drawing, but have never really tried blind contour drawing.  I think I’m going to take my grandchildren out this week and teach them blind contour drawing.  We should get some good laughs.
    • Gail
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      I did not find this technique helpful.  I do not think it enhanced my observation skills .  I was more concerned about getting the shapes right instead of focusing on the subject.  I also felt very disconnected with where I was on the page and how to connect the lines so the body or plant shape would be whole instead of in separate pieces. I feel that I am able to concentrate on what I am observing in the natural world so did not find this enhanced my connection.   Red EftBird of Paradise
    • Jeff
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      IMG-2874I have a hard time drawing period, this exercise was hard because I was all over the place when I didn't look at the page at all.
    • The springbok was my favorite. IMG_7882
    • This was hard. It seemed to be a matter of trying to match my mind with what I was seeing & it sometimes felt that timing was out of whack between the two. Will add the Springbok with next reply.  Felt the Springbok was better & that the bird of paradise flower was the worst - which is frustrating because one of my best large paintings was a bird of paradise flower. Good thing I didn't have to not look at the canvas LoL! IMG_7880IMG_7879 IMG_7881
    • IMG_1301 Yes it is an interesting exercise. I have not gone outside yet to try it.  But I did sense that I was spending more time looking at details on the subject rather than just trying to get the general impression on paper. It will also be interesting to see how this ties in to "sketching" which seems to lend itself to capturing general impressions rather than structural details.
    • Logan
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      In general, I want to try to spend more time looking at the subject than the journal page, so this was a nice exercise to reinforce that habit. What I liked best was finding the angles of the negative space around the various subjects and observing that and trying to make the mark on the page with confidence.
    • LeslieAnne
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      9C166559-4FE0-4F10-9074-ECA313CF28FDI do think contour drawing helped me stay completely focused on the subject, but I had no sense of where my hand was on the page or where the beginning of the drawing actually was. Because it is so cold outside, I sketched a birch tree. Again,  I was unsure of where the drawing had actually begun but the overall shape wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.   597FBEF9-B640-4731-B1B9-013AE7DF36B8
    • Paul
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Definitely helped me stay focused. My mind drifted even after a short period demonstrating my lack of focus which I need to improve. Good exercise. I learned much especially that I can actually capture some parts without looking at the paper!
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 30
      This was a lot of fun. I didn't go outside because it was freezing out, but did the given examples a couple of times each - not perfect but I liked the way worked - I did add the branch and eye of the bird post-exercise...I also did it in my regular notebook because I thought it would be a waste of paper - but it was not. contour drawings exercise
    • Coral
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      After doing these exercises, it was apparent to me that steady and  SLOW  is the key. 0688EF30-1738-4B4D-A09D-52CC029580F0_1_105_c  This morning I took more time to do the blind contour and I think it's a noticeable improvement.  E04970AC-C5B5-42AE-AC2A-307E4C003956_1_105_cFAFA9EC8-6777-473A-A54C-66254B305C8B_1_105_c
    • ColoMtn
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      blind contourBlind Contour of a Succulent.  I like how focused I felt during the exercise
    • Ida Maria
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      IMG_20191227_131332??????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????:):):)
    • Ida Maria
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      IMG_20191227_131059I had a lot of fun!!
    • Astrid
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I must say I produced some very abstract art here :-). But I will keep trying!
    • Rebecca
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      This exercise was more successful than I anticipated.   I found that I make somewhat fatter bodies than the pictures.  Being aware of this is very helpful.
    • Rohit
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I thought it was a piece of cake..haha..and the results are pretty funny!Unknown
    • Charlene
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Very difficult. All my contour drawings looked like amoebas and never really improved.  It did help me stay focused.