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

    • Jenn
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      A fun and challenging exercise! I really liked it, my first two (newt and sunbird) came out fairly wonky, but there were features I was happy with on both, and on my second two I started to feel an improvement - I was actually very surprised and happy that my Springbok start and finish point matched exactly! IMG_6121IMG_6122
    • Susan
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      There's an art to this, for sure. Slowing down helped!IMG_1987 IMG_1983 IMG_1986
    • betsy
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      My salamander was so sad.  I totally missed matching up the line so that his body was a tiny squiggle.  I improved with the bird, at least matching up beginning and ending and getting basic shape,  The bird of paradise flower was my best attempt, completing some of the points and bumps fairly accurately.  The springbok was a big blob with legs.  I did get the horns close.  Once in an art class we did this with a partner's face.  Turned out pretty quirky but fun.  I'm sure this is a good brain exercise which at my age I can sure use again and again.
    • Catherine
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      My drawing would overlap a lot and the beginning did not meet the end but I had parts of each I could identify with the picture.  The limbs were always larger than they should be even though I imagined them too skinny.
    • Kim
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      IMG_1873IMG_1875IMG_1874This was a difficult, but interesting exercise.  However, focusing on the positive, I believe I was able to capture the essence of the figure.  This is a very interesting idea to focus only on the object and not on the paper.
    • Maribeth
      Participant
      Chirps: 43
      Blind contour
    • Rebecca
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      The salamander was far easier than the antelope.  I suspect because of the wider variety of shapes and that the antelop was engaged in movement.
    • Marsha
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I found this exercise somewhat difficult, but valuable. It was hard not to look down at the paper to try to get the subject captured more accurately! But it forces me to look more carefully at the subject and try to notice the nuances of changes in the contour. I used full pages for each drawing - not usual for me. But I liked having the freedom of the whole page to try this exercise, which was interesting. I didn't want to restrict myself. Thanks for the challenge!
    • Marsha
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      Blind Contour Drawing Newt
    • Geetha
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      A very difficult exercise to practice. Needs a lot of training and focus with eye and hand coordination. In blind contour drawing the sizes are in abnormal scale and the start and end lines are not connecting at all. The contour drawing with imagination or from remembrance is easier to bring in paper than the blind drawing. here the eye focus and hand sketching are not coordinated, though the hand follows the eye movement. A good one for focussing, but needs a lot of patience and skill to connect.
    • James
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      IMG_4823
    • Donita
      Participant
      Chirps: 80
      Well this was an interesting exercise!  My first try of the newt was on a full sheet and he looked like Bart Simpson.  Trying a smaller version came out much better.  Fun!Blind contour drawing
    • Michelle
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      Ok. This was a REALLY disorienting experience! I truly felt like I had an itch in my brain that I couldn't scratch- but at the same time, I certainly was more focused on the subject. After I did the initial drawings, I decided that I wanted to do a "memory coloring," too- so I just watercolored in each drawing however I remembered the colors from the exercise. Last, I went over the initial drawings in black to show the contour drawing better. It actually made a really pretty page in this notebook, even though that was not the goal. It just helps me see that even something as "imperfect" as a blind contour drawing can become a piece of       something I enjoy. IMG_0067
    • Lori
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I think it was interesting......BUT wow.....really bad. I was trying to save my expensive water color paper so I didn't give myself enough room.....I will try this exercise again on a piece of computer paper. One picture per page.  Thank you brave people for posting your pictures!
      • Lori
        Participant
        Chirps: 5
        Nope....wasn't easier on a bigger piece of paper....good luck everyone! 🤣
      • Donita
        Participant
        Chirps: 80

        @Lori I went smaller, all 4 on 1 page and it seemed to work better for me.  Yeah, bring out the scrap paper!

    • Brenda
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Okay, this is really bad, but I enjoyed the experience! It was difficult to stay focused when all I wanted to do was look down (which, I'll admit, I did once!). The most difficult thing for me is connecting the lines coming up and going down. I laughed a lot during this exercise :D 20230102_135305
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      This was fun and my drawings turned out better than I thought they would.  I did them quite quickly and when I looked down was shocked that they had alot of the features right.  Still pretty wonky but much better than I anticipated.
    • Nora
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      I've been practicing this exercise for quite a while.  It serves as a nice warm up when I want to focus, but let go at the same time.
    • Leanne
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I really enjoyed this activity.  Even though the springbok's body didn't join up I feel good about the front legs overlapping and the overall movement. 20221206_133441
    • Donna
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      Hi everyone!  I tried the newt, bird, bird of paradise, and springbok too.  They turned out not so great, but fun to do.  I tried to blind contour a whelk seashell, Christmas tree, and a cardinal.  Thank you!  :-)   Blind Drawing of Whelk and Christmas TreeBlind Drawing of Cardinal
      • Susan
        Participant
        Chirps: 7
        Your contours capture the feel of the objects!
    • Cynthia Schoen
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      I would rather paint Mallard drakes all day than fail at contour drawing! But this lamp was so funny I decided to include it. Looks like a fun house collection of desk stuff. More intricate outlines needed next time.IMG-1871
    • Diane
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I loved this exercise.  It was freeing to focus only on the subject and not on the drawing.  I was pleasantly surprised at how accurate some of the contours were even if they were not in the correct spot or did not meet in the end. Fun and relaxing.  I will do more of these exercises! IMG_0787
    • Suzy
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      I really liked this experience. I did OK, better on some than others. I noticed that those in the group who tried smaller pictures seemed to do better, so maybe I will try that next time. Focusing on what I did right was a great experience that I need to apply to all my endeavors! I was pleased that I usually managed to get the overall relative size and shape correct, if not the parts and their connections, and I was super happy when I ended up just about right where I started a couple of times. I figured out that if I mentally pictured the drawing materializing on my page before I started, I had a better outcome (like athletes picturing making the goal). I had the idea after doing the exercises to do the contours of some trees, because I'm interested in the variety of shapes of trees. I should have chosen a vantage point where I could see the whole trees in outline at a distance, but instead I went to a nearby nature center where the sit-spots were close to the trees.  No matter, I gave it a whirl, and while it was very challenging, I felt like I sharpened my perception of depth as well as subtle details about the trees, so yes, in that sense, the exercise helped me focus on my subject more. When my drawing went off the page, I just continued to imagine I was drawing until my pencil returned to the page!  I actually ended up thinking the rather abstract overlapping drawings were pretty--suggestions of trees. Thinking about how I might want to add color. Contour drawing in general has made me be mindful of  loosening my grip--relinquishing some [illusion of] control in exchange for better flow. Who knows, a looser grip might improve my drawing overall!
    • Vikki
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      Wow - this was really difficult! I could not bring my starting and ending points back together, ran off the page at one point and my bird of paradise looks rather like a swamp plant.  Very interesting to note that my brain and hand do not communicate at all!  FA47413F-87B9-49F6-84FD-A082E492EB46 664A9CE3-DC33-4CB1-A269-23AB3FBBF108 9D7F4AC4-754C-472F-AA79-E28CD1B5E102
    • Philip
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Well I found it nearly impossible not to look at the drawing, some practiceWIN_20220915_08_28_37_ProWIN_20220915_08_27_58_ProWIN_20220915_08_32_25_Pro needed.
    • Kathy
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      I enjoyed this exercise.  I think the hardest part for me was to keep my eye on the part that I was drawing at a specific moment and not look ahead too soon at the next part of the contour.  It kept me from staying focused on where I felt my pencil should actually be. Lots of fun!Sunbird contour dwgNewt contour dwg