Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Some things to think about contour line drawing, while drawing:

Contour line drawing is deceptively simple.

To make a contour line drawing, one really only needs a piece of paper and virtually ANY writing or drawing implement.

Sit, look, draw what you see with a line.

But to really make a contour line drawing, one needs some other things too, and this is where the process, if really tackled with eyes wide open, becomes a challenge.

One needs time. (Are you willing to sit for a good long while?--in silence perhaps, or not, but in either case, are you willing to focus only on what is in front of you. Phone turned off or at least away. No texting. Perhaps the question should really be, are you ABLE to sit for a time, an hour?, and just draw. A whole hour. Drawing. Staying put.)

One has to look. (Are you willing to really look at your subject--at every facet, detail, texture, element, part. Can you?)

One has to head into the drawing believing it is nearly impossible to record it all, but determined to try nonetheless. (Or maybe that knowledge comes more slowly, when the huge chasm between our eye and our hand become more apparent--and poignant.)

Are you willing to let mistakes remain. No erasing--invariably there will be mistakes in proportion. Can you allow those "mistakes" to exist, to meld into the greater overall project of exercising SEEING? Can you privilege the process more than the product? Will you try?

Can you settle your internal critic for the duration of this drawing? Perhaps begin by hearing that critical voice--can you then move on, ignoring it--hard yes, but it is possible.

Can you trust that growth might happen in doing something simple, something you don't fully understand, or even something that infuriates you?

When you are through, tell me about your experience in as much detail as possible. Thanks!!!


  1. I used a crumpled plastic bag for my drawing. I quickly realized, much to my own dismay, that I accidentally picked something much harder than I wanted it to be. The simplest reason for the difficulty (at first) was that I kept losing my place in the drawing. I would be looking at a certain little spot on the bag and would then remove my eyes from it for a moment and suddenly realize upon returning to look that my eyes were horribly confused. Which little shiny spot was it again? Wait, which edge of the shiny spot am I on? There were so many little teeny things that I was trying to draw that I got lost easily. I think that it's especially easy to do this when you're doing a contour drawing because you don't have any value on your paper to guide your eye... just lines. All those little lines are hard to look at and navigate through. As I kept drawing, though, I eventually began to spend less and less time looking at my paper and more time looking at the bag. Towards the end of the drawing, it almost became an exercise in blind contour. This helped a great deal. I can't say that it's a completely accurate drawing, but I really did get into it and I saw with my eyes and much as I could and drew as much as I saw. It took me about 2 hours of work overall. I'm pretty satisfied with the end result.
    -Susan Pryor (Susie)

  2. I chose the front half of my room to draw. It is extremely cluttered and I have been meaning to clean it for quite some time. This project was very frustrating for me. When I draw I like to use quick, sketchy lines. Due to the nature of this project, I was unable to. None the less, I did the best I could and am satisfied with the result.

  3. I also found this project frustrating because I, too, prefer to draw with quick, sketchy lines. Trying to draw so much with a ballpoint pen was also difficult, as the pen ran out of ink quickly and was hard to control. I chose to draw my DVD rack along with a portion of my desk/bookshelf. I didn't use a ruler, so all of my shelves look like they are made of jello. I'm not sure whether I'm satisfied with the result or not, but I tried my best.

  4. This project definitely fell under the "something that infuriates you" category for me. I hate doing anything in ink and I am way too much of perfectionist, so this project could only help me. At first I chose to draw my messy desk, but I got too frustrated and started over. I tried doing a simple chair, but I didn't like that either! I spent at least an hour on each of those, so when I started over again, I only had about 2 hours to work on it and I am a SLOW worker. So for my last try, I did one shelf of my bookshelf. Now I realize that no matter what I had chosen to do, it probably would have turned out just about the same. What frustrated me so much was not knowing where to start and not being able to put down an erasable general layout because when I would just get one little thing wrong, it got the entire off! I've got some jello action happening on my shelf too. I don't like my drawing at all and I really don't want to show it to anyone, but I suppose it's worth a little growth.

  5. For me, this project was difficult but sortof fun. I have never really drawn with contour lines and definitely not in pin. I chose to draw the inside of mu wardrobe/closet. I immediately ran into issues with perspective and foreshortening techniques but had no choice but to translate what I was looking at into a drawing. There were alot of organic and whimisical shapes but it made the project seem less structured and more fluid. It took about 4 hours but I have been pleasantly surprised by the result.

  6. I started on the view from my window and after 3 minutes I stepped back. I then realized that I was very compelled to shade and add value to this view because of the way the sun shined in. So, I started over on a pile on marbles, precious rocks and stones. I worked around some of the edges of my paper giving me a space and boundary to work within. Within half an hour my lines had gone from flowing, loose, delicate lines, to dark, repetitive lines used to indicative value. Oops! It was a constant struggle to make the lines fluid and look like a coloring book and not a work of art.

  7. (I think it can be argued that a coloring book is still art)

    This assignment was very daunting to me as well. What do I draw? Where do I focus my attention? Where the heck did I put my drawing paper? Like a grade school kid, I forced myself to sit still and "just draw". The result satisfied me, actually.

    With a lack of satisfaction in the perspective I was a bit reluctant to display my work. The room was filled with several crisp-lined and angular beauties, leaving my work a bit self-conscience. But, luckily, I hold strong to the belief that everyone develops their own style and even if one is not so strong at realism quite just yet, it can be learned and adapted into one's personal style. :)

    even if that doesn't prove to be true, it can't help to try, eh?

  8. It's nice to know that everyone else found the homework assignment somewhat challenging as I had. It placed many of us in a situation that we're not use to, with drawing clean contour lines in pen. I drew my dorm room desk full of miscellaneous clutter. I enjoyed drawing the items, though it was frustrating having to draw slow lines with my shaky hand and disregard my mistakes. The result is not my best work, but it wasn't bad either. Overall I think it was a good practice and everyone did a good job!