Contour Drawing

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I've had some comments lately about contour drawing. I love it  -  it is my kind of drawing.  I don't do blind contour - well, I shouldn't say I don't, but I'll get to that later.

Everyone is very different when it comes to processing information, and I think of different styles or methods of drawing and sketching preferences to be along the lines of processing information.  Don't try to analyze it  - just do whatever works for you.

When I'm drawing, I need to stay connected - literally.  When I'm doing a contour drawing, I'm keeping my pen or pencil on the paper - even if it means I have to back-track, or if I make mistakes and have to keep correcting.  I'm just moving from shape to shape, space to space, with no conscious thought as to what those shapes and spaces are  -  only how they relate to one another.

It ends up being an informal (sloppy?) drawing that usually gets everything in the right place.  The look of it appeals to me, but I'm sure it doesn't appeal to everyone. If I need to have a "cleaner" drawing, I can use the information I have obtained from doing the contour.

When I try to do a sketchy, more precise style of drawing, I actually can't stay connected  -  it feels as if I am skipping around and nothing has anything to do with anything else.  That's just my opinion  -  "real" drawing works for a LOT of people.

The ideal way to do a contour is to be looking at the subject more than the paper. Some people say they draw only when they are looking at the subject.  They stop drawing when they look at the paper to make sure they are making connections, and resume drawing when they look back at  the subject.  I may be doing that too, but haven't really thought about it when I'm drawing. I'll have to pay attention next time.

I find contour drawing helps me edit and keep things simple  -  I'm just moving along and only getting in the things I really want to be there.  I find it pretty easy to skip over the unnecessary objects.

I'll dig out some contour drawings I have in sketchbooks, and put them in a future post.  I'll also talk a bit about blind contour and why I find it useful.

Maybe contour drawing is an acquired taste, so give it a try  -  you might learn to love it!


Vicki Holdwick said...

This is quite lovely, Catherine,


annie said...

A friend and art teacher suggested THE NATURAL WAY TO DRAW by Nicholaides, over 40 years ago. Since then I've made sporadic attempts, and it seems as if it really relaxes me and helps me zone in on something, though my contours don't look like much. Maybe I should try it more often. I would be happy to reach even half the loveliness that you have here...

Marpia said...

Thanks so much for the information on contour drawing and the way you do it. I will definitely be doing more of this now that I know I can peek. I'll try to 'get in the zone' by not thinking too much about the object and more about the shapes and spaces.

LindaHunt said...

This is a very cheerful drawing! I enjoyed the process of drawing and it has inspired me to want to try it.

Vaishnavi said...

This sounds like something I can try! Love the picture!

Anonymous said...

I love the colors and subject matter of your contour drawing. Very lovely and spontaneous. I guess it is like anything else, the more you practice the better you get at seeing what you are drawing and getting the relationships between shapes correct. Kay

Catherine said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! Marpia says she is going to try to get "in the Zone" That's what it takes - you have to make a connection with your subject. We are not talking about blind contour here - it is okay to look at your paper now and then.

Lynn Parise said...

Cath, Don't know if you remember me from taking your classes years ago, but I always have been a big fan of yours and continue to be one. I purchased your great little book, the sketches of Petosky and simply LOVE it. I have such wonderful memories of that town and you and of course the classes we took sitting outside at Bay View. Thanks for sharing with us again.

Catherine said...

Hi Lynn - of course I remember you! So nice to hear from you! How are you, where are you, what are you up to?
Thanks for buying my book!