Revisiting contour drawing

Art Journal - contour drawing, with colour added for fun!

I have rediscovered an old favourite - contour drawing.  I love this technique.  Anyone can do it.  It improves your hand eye co-ordination.  It forces you to focus.  It is easy, cheap, productive, expressive, individual. You can use anything that will make a mark. 

Essentially all that is required is paper and a drawing tool of some description.  Without looking at your paper you draw the contour or edges of what you are looking at, carefully following with your eye and imagining you are drawing along the edge.   You keep drawing, without lifting your pencil.  If you need to re-position your pencil can you back trace over a line, or reposition your pencil if absolutely needed, with a quick glance to your page.  Blind contour drawing is where you position yourself where you cannot see your page ( maybe by taping a sheet of paper over your hand, or standing to one side of your easel).   It is often used in art classes as a warm up to drawing, followed by a gesture drawing.

I actually did it in reverse order here... I did the charcoal portrait first, then analysed the photo, then the contour drawing - doesn't really matter!    However, what I have noticed is that the more familiar I become with a subject the more I see... the certain slant of the eye, curve of the chin. 

I don't know why I stopped doing contour drawings.  Maybe just due to the rushes of daily living.   I used to do a lot in my art journal - of the things around the house, or of unsuspecting family members.   Done with a black pen they make for fabulous little vignettes with a colour wash added, and it is back on my artistic list of things to do more of.


  1. I love the contour drawing, and the charcoal is dead on. Great job!

  2. Great job and thanks for reminding me of this stykle of drawing! I do similar ones sometimes (I think they're great when I feel rushed!) but I always cheat and look at what I'm doing, I need to get back to doing some without looking too! Still think your portraits are fab!x

  3. thanks!
    and Rachel - total blind contour is challenging - I usually lay something (like a large piece of paper) over my hand because I just can't help glancing at my page!


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