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

    • gretchen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      That was a great exercise in not getting caught up in what your drawing looks like, sometimes I get so stressed about the drawing I forget to enjoy the observation. None of my blind contours looked like what I was drawing ,but the line was strong and I did get details that I might have overlooked if I was trying to make it look like what I thought it should look like, if that makes any sense. This also heightened my awareness of angles and small detail that made me ask questions ,not just how do I draw this? Perhaps I will do this before I start any drawing.
    • Bill
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      I'll have to overcome my use of jigs to constrain my work. IMG_1569      
    • Lily
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Hahahaha  this was the best of the bunch. the bird looked like a bird and I found that I could get the first half much more accurately than the last half of each object.IMG_0881
      • holly
        Participant
        Chirps: 24
        Bill, were you a draftsman before you got involved with nature and that pocket of your creativity?
    • Pat
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      There were some portions of lines that looked true and accurate even if they didn't meet up with the other lines! It seems like a good way to capture some of the angles and the trajectory of a line even if the proportions were right out the window.
    • Kieki
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I found the exercise challenging, and the results didn’t look even close to what I was suppose to be drawing.  But there are a few spots here and there I can recognized, so I guess that is encouraging.  Will just have to continue to practice.
    • Deborah
      Participant
      Chirps: 21
      Well that was frustrating , humbling, and a good exercise to loosen up, observe and enjoy the gestural quality of line. Also made me laugh. Love my Springbok drawing it reminds me of cave drawings.
    • Julia
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      I found this exercise relaxing. I wasn’t happy with the final result but I think it has value when out in the field.
    • William
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      I really had a lot of fun with this exercise.DSC_9456
    • Mike
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      Not only am I bad at this, I'm worse at it than everyone else who has had the nerve to submit their work. I don't have any recognizable parts to my drawings. I've done eight so far; no successes at all. Any hints or tips on how to do this?
      • Hi Mike!   Blind-contour drawing is a notoriously difficult exercise, it is admirable that you have done eight so far! With persistence will come progress, in my personal career I'm certain that I've done hundreds of blind-contour drawings and I'm even more certain that my first ones were not good! I encourage you to be patient with yourself and keep trying. Many of the sketches that folks have shared here are quite exceptional, blind contour drawings are often very goofy! I suggest you try varying your speed, maybe slow down if you feel like you might be going too fast (this is a common occurrence), or vice versa if you feel like it is going far too slowly. It is all too easy to let your hand and your eye get out of sync, so try to focus on drawing the exact part of your subject that your eye is focusing on. As with any exercise - this will come easier to some than others. Remember that learning to draw is a process and every drawing you create is contributing to your growth as an artist!
    • Aimee
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      0 I enjoyed this exercise, I think it is a good practice in slowing down and will be a good technique to lead with to warm up my hand in the field. The quality got better as I went on after working on a few of them, still finding my proportion of returning to my starting line can be way off. Looking forward to practicing this on 3D subjects.
      • holly
        Participant
        Chirps: 24
        I have to agree it's good as a warm up. I bet you'll be great with anything Fuller offers us
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      imageIt was difficult to refrain from looking. As I drew I suddenly felt the movement of the animal more than the actual form. I plan to practise this in my backyard while bird watching. (That is if it ever stops raining!)
      • Robin
        Participant
        Chirps: 3
        Same happened to me...especially with the Springbok...I felt like I was jumping, too! Very freeing!
    • Eileen
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      So glad you  had us do 4 subjects because  I found myself looking at the subject  as a big shape immediately , and then looking at the other shapes within , before I started started to use the pencil.  As I drew, I was thinking of the shapes as I was seeing them and  I felt that this is how artists must see. My fourth picture really pleased me.  Thank you so much for this exercise.  It has made a big difference to me. I feel like I have begun to develop a skill. Amazing!It may look more like a kangaroo than a a springbok to most viewers , but to me it is a success!  By the way, as a lefty, I  remembered to start on the right side this time and that probably helped , too. IMG_5289    
    • Sandy
      Participant
      Chirps: 32
      Initially I didn't intent to share my results. Seeing what others posted inspired me to repeat the exercise, so thanks for sharing! Did anyone notice the odd shape on the springbok's back left upper leg? Do you know what it is or might might have caused it?IMG_2606
    • Kenneth
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Found it difficult to not look at drawing on the newt this focusing improved as I worked through the following pictures. The results were in all cases hilarious , but in all of the pictures there were elements that I could recognize and felt that showed some control of hand eye combination. A exercise that also indicates the usefulness of the short staccato pencil strokes along with the need for constantly changing focus to attain accurate drawing.
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      I thought I was concentrating well and kept my eyes on the subjects but my goodness my results were hilarious.            
    • Mario
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      mines went really horrible, i think the only one was the bird of paradise flower haha i have to keep trying!!
    • holly
      Participant
      Chirps: 24
      Once again, share it if you’d like to. Do you think it helped you stay focused on your subject? Indeed it did! I discovered lots of things after this exercise. I can see clearly things I might not have noticed previously, like the effect of light and striations of my subjects things Prof. Fuller has taught us. My inability to judge distance and the amount of time I might need to complete any drawing are clearer after attempting this exercise and from the other things Prof. Fuller has taught us before using BLIND CONTOUR DRAWING. I'm not sure I cheated when I used my right hand as a ruler to simply keep my left hand on the page of my journal. It's a curious exercise and one I'll practice with. She's always so positive, but I was disappointed with myself. I won't give up though because the course is fascinating. I appreciate the work the other students are sharing and wish I'd taken art courses instead of language in college.
    • Kristina
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Anyone have tips for getting proportions accurate? Mine are all over the place.
    • Mariane
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Guys, look at my Springbok 😂😂😂  Cool excercise though!  I'm here to learn and I am loving it!! image
      • Mary Jo
        Participant
        Chirps: 12
        Love it!  I agree that this course is so cool and especially the sharing of our drawings and learning new techniques.  I have really been enjoying it.
      • Amy
        Participant
        Chirps: 22
        Kudos for posting this! It’s kind of like the top was at the beginning of the jump and the bottom was at the peak.
    • Montecito
      Participant
      Chirps: 22
      At the beginning a though it was difficult to draw without seeing, but after I started, I felt more confident and also relax. It was easier than I though, as you can keep your sight exactly where you are drawing the details of the shapes. This way of drawing the contours helps you focus really on the subject. I loved it.IMG_4581IMG_4580
    • Jean
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      My eye speed and hand speed don’t seem to match, producing distortion. My newt looked more like a flying squirrel, and some of my springboks are neckless while others look like giraffe x springbok hybrids.  I’m not sure if it helped me focus. I’ll keep trying.
      • Deborah
        Participant
        Chirps: 21
        I had the same problem Jean, my eye and hand speed didn't match.
    • Christina
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      IMG_6196 Oh that poor bird!! Yikes! I admit I freaked out a little and drew that one too fast... Better try that one again... IMG_6197 That felt better! I do like my bird of paradise, though... IMG_6198 Springbok got kind of a spare tire... something weird happened with his hind foot... that one ear looks like a third horn... If you can't laugh at yourself, you're not having fun.
    • kathleen
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      That was really difficult to let go of the outcome, but fun in the end. I like that it forced me to really slow down and try to coordinate my hand movements with my view. I liked my springbok the best!image
    • Barbara T.
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      LOL, I found myself stopping after doing a section to pick up my pencil and draw a new limb or section. It still came out looking funky!
    • Sarah
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      I notice I’m better on the down strokes, less accurate on the return, or upstrokes.