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

    • 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
    • Dann
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      I experimented with starting at different places on the image. IMG_4974
    • Gillie
      Participant
      Chirps: 26
      Well that was fun!  I found if I stopped to rethink about my line direction I lost context even though I did not lift my pencil off.  It would seem the trick is to stay focussed throughout.  I like my Springbok the best. I am happy with the front leg, neck, head, ear, antlers and back line through to the tail and back leg including hoof really well.  That's when I stopped to think about what I was doing and without lifting my pencil off, went off course somewhat!  You can see the 2 dark spots where I was resting my pencil. My own choice drawing was a bonsai in a pot which is very leafy and has no trunk line to view.  It looks awful but I am happy with the authenticity of the stick on the right, the leaves on the left and the shape of the bottom of the pot LOL! Blind Contour Drawing Springbok Blind Contour Drawing Bonsai in pot
    • Cheryl
      Participant
      Chirps: 10
      Blind Contour DrawingI struggled with knowing where I was on the page. Definitely need to practice this strategy!
      • Gillie
        Participant
        Chirps: 26
        Just love 'em - they look like charicatures don't they!
    • My drawings turned out pretty odd, except for the newt which wasn't too bad, and I had a hard time not looking down at my paper. I liked the fact that this made me notice details like the different in the number of toes on the newt's front hand (?) versus the rear.
    • Cecilia Louise
      Participant
      Chirps: 13
      It was SO hard restraining my impulse to look!!! The newt turned out better than I expected, I made the sunbird wider than it should have been, but the bird-of-paradise flower turned out okay, except for the stem which is narrower than it should be. The springbok however was a complete failure. I really enjoyed this lesson because it made me laugh and because it showed me how my eyes and my hand are not used to working together at this level! IMG_20220505_105105IMG_20220505_105122IMG_20220505_105139
    • Arleene
      Participant
      Chirps: 20
      I was actually very pleased with how the drawings turned out. I thought it would be just a bunch of lines on a page. A fun exercise in concentration. Interesting to see how the drawings turned out when starting from different places on the page; left or right, bottom or top. The newt I started at bottom left, the sunbird at the bottom, the flower at the right and the springbok at the lower neck or left. Sorry having trouble uploading all four pictures   3D33AD87-DFE0-49E0-AD69-5BC7B633AEBE  
    • Natalija
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      I found this experience just a little frustrating but mostly amusing. It served its purpose, really helping me focus on the subject. I found the bird of Paradise to be the easiest probably because of its straight lines. I think that the more I focused on the details the further my line ended up from being enclosed. blind contour drawing
    • Michaele
      Participant
      Chirps: 2
      Not peeking at my drawing was the hardest thing to do but I stayed focused on the lines and was surprised that my eyes and hand coordinated so well. This seems like a good practice to do to concentrate on the focus to really see the lines.
    • Rhonda
      Participant
      Chirps: 6
      contour drawingsI can only manage half an image before my drawings collapse in on themselves. The Bird-of-Paradise at least has some 3-dimensional form.
    • Jane
      Participant
      Chirps: 23
      I had my laughs during this exercise! Poor little Green-tailed Sunbird looks like a frog. I did a better job with the Bird-of-Paradise and Sprinkbok. Trying to imagine where the paper edges were was easier when I folded my paper into fourths. 7AD914E4-13F4-4360-B2A7-6EB46F4F406E
    • Kayla
      Participant
      Chirps: 19
      IMG-7178 I didn't do the Newt a favor, but I believe I did better on the Sunbird. I definitely think that this exercise helped me stay focused on the subject because it has you focus on details that you probably otherwise would've overlooked.
    • Marianne
      Participant
      Chirps: 7
      I've always loved contour drawing. It definitely helps you stay focused and is always fun, easy, and quick. For me, it helps just be with the process and disconnect from any result. IMG-0300IMG-0301IMG-0302
    • Olivia
      Participant
      Chirps: 17
      It wasn´t easy because in many years of drawing, I never considered to do it with this method, and yes, it´s true, helps you focus exclusively on the subject, concentrate and appreciate the details slowly, but feels, or my personal perception, was a difficult connection between eye and hand at the same time, but I will put it into practice, its a very interesting, healthy and surprising experience, especially when you see the result. dia13febrero
    • Christine
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      yes- as funny as they look - it did help me stay focused on the subject!2C09ADE9-7FDF-4E35-9B63-E5843E9B6DD1A9636BD6-5776-45FE-8673-9D59836EA23F
    • Stephanie
      Participant
      Chirps: 3
      This was a huge challenge! I found two tricks that helped: 1) I noticed when Liz was drawing she kept the fingers of her left hand on the notebook near the spine. I put my thumb and first two fingers down on the edge of each page before starting, and used them to "feel" where the top, bottom and a central part of the drawing should be. For instance, the top, bottom and end of the nose of the springbok. 2) I closed one of my eyes, and that helped me immensely with staying focused on the contour and not getting lost looking around at different places on the object. Not particularly proud of any of these drawings but I will keep practicing.
    • Teresa
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      IMG_1941
    • E. Lee
      Participant
      Chirps: 4
      You’re right, funny! My newt at least had 3 legs, but my songbird looked like a dinosaur and my flower - we’ll sort of,  but my Springbok at least had spring! C177FC91-C2D7-46F1-BE09-BAC2400815BF my springbok has spring, and 4 legs!
    • Liz
      Participant
      Chirps: 5
      The urge to criticize wasn’t as strong bc of how kind the professor was to herself. I found myself having fun with how weird it looked and joyful about some good spots in the drawings. An exercise in managing the urge to look as well having self compassion!imageimage
    • Beth
      Participant
      Chirps: 15
      IMG_3004
    • Connie
      Participant
      Chirps: 1
      These exercises are some of the best of my first year of really exploring nature in all its glory!  I laughed at some of my drawings, and was amazed by a couple that really came out recognizable.  I'm looking forward to doing this just out in nature and even in my  backyard.
    • Donna
      Participant
      Chirps: 9
      I definitely had to stay focused on the subject. I made an effort to find something I liked in each drawing. The plants I tried were too complex to have anything resembling the images on my page. I found it challenging to have proportions once i was working on the "second half" of an image; I would over shoot or overlap. Not sure what is going on there, I don't seem to be able to hold the place in space of the parts of the image. example, the two sides of the Springbok's legs.
    • Robin
      Participant
      Chirps: 8
      This was a very difficult exercise for a perfectionist! I could not get anything to look even vaguely like that sunbird, though I tried 3 or 4 times. My newt, bird of paradise, and springbok ended more representational.  I don't know if this is something I would do for pleasure, but I understand the point of the exercise. IMG_3348
    • Jacqueline
      Participant
      Chirps: 14
      Yikes!  This was a challenge.  I can see this would be helpful in the field when you don’t have much time to capture the image.  Just get the shape and then the details as much as possible considering the subject may be passing thru
      • Karin
        Participant
        Chirps: 25
        I think that is what I mostly do when I am sketching something that is moving. I agree this was an UFDA hard to do. I tried it on a model bulldog pup. The drawing looked hilarious as a whole. When looking at it on just the part I did not bad. I asked the barista what she thought, not trusting my own judgement. She said she could see it. whew/ I think if we then went to shading and adding it might look like the subject?
    • Nancy
      Participant
      Chirps: 16
      It was really hard not to look.  Not sure if it helped my focus.   I was hurrying so I could look.  The drawings for the most part turned out better than I thought they would.  I did two tries on the Springbok, though.