I am obsessed with blind contour drawings, specifically blind-contour self portraits. If you are unfamiliar, blind contour drawing is an exercise in which the artist does a line drawing of their subject without looking at the paper or lifting their pen off of it. The results are imperfect but have such an impact. This might sound pretentious, but I think that they capture a feeling or a moment in a way that my other drawings don't because I'm not worrying about making accurate lines or making it perfect (let's be real, I'm rarely worrying about making anything perfect, but you get what I mean). People on Instagram seem to feel the same way, so I thought I would share my steps for blind contour drawing (spoiler: I cheat a little bit).
Step 1: Get in front of a mirror. You can draw a blind contour of anything, but my favorite subject is myself. I think part of it is that I am the most convenient model and part of it is that I think something really cool happens between my eyes looking at my face and my hand drawing that says something about me at that moment (wow, we're really getting pretentious here).
Step 2: Get a pen (no erasing!). Make sure it writes smoothly because you want it to glide across the paper and not skip or create broken lines.
Step 3: Look at your face in the mirror and draw what you see. Have you ever really noticed the way that your eyebrows are shaped? Are your eyes wide open or are your lids drooping today? Really look. I always start with my hair and then fill in my facial features, but that is just me (noticing that makes me want to try starting with something different to see how it changes the drawing).
Step 4: Go fast. This is one of the ways that cheat a little bit. Traditionally, blind contour drawing is supposed to be slow and methodical, but for some reason this type of drawing has a sense of urgency for me. I think it is because I don't want to worry about making every line perfect, I just want to get down an impression of what I see.
Step 5: Cheat. Look down at your paper a little. No matter how hard I try, I usually end up looking down at my paper. I can't help it. I have an overwhelming urge to make sure that I'm not putting my eyes down below my chin. I try to keep my downward glances to a minimum, but I don't sweat it when they happen. I am still mostly working from my observations and my intuition.
Step 6: Make a bunch more blind contour self-portraits. Draw one every month or every week or every day and see how your drawings skills improve and how your face changes over time. Try drawing with fine tipped pens and Sharpies and colored pencils. Try a double-exposure of two blind contour faces on top of each other (I am totally going to do this!)
If you read this I hope you give blind contour drawing a try! It is one area of art where I am truly amazed by what I create. I have made art that I am proud of or that I think looks nice, but when a blind contour drawing just clicks I am completely in love and in awe of what I have just created. And I want everyone to have that feeling! If you do a blind contour let me know! Hit me up @haleyca on Instagram or leave me a comment here or send me an email.