Notes from the Field: Blind Contour Drawings

Amanda has such a sensitive view of the world around her. This becomes clear after speaking with her for just a few minutes. I show her a paper ornament, and she says she doesn't think she could learn how to make it. I try again, admiring the beautiful arrangement of fresh sunflowers on her bedside table. She points out that one appears to be smiling. I say, “You have an artistic flair for sure!” She doesn't believe me.

I make a quick sketch of the sunflowers while she watches. I tell her about blind contour drawings – a method of drawing the contour of a subject without looking at the paper – and make one myself. Amanda looks intrigued by this and asks me what could be gained from not looking at what you're drawing. Only one way to find out!

I set her up and volunteer to hold a piece of paper over what she is drawing so she can't look at it.  Then, I instruct her to glue her eyeballs to the flower, find a spot and follow the edge with her eye.  With every move her eye makes, move the marker too.  "Think of it as an extension of your eye – like you are tracing it." She cries out, "I’m so lost!"  I tell her is doesn't matter…just keep going. She says, "OK, so ANYTHING goes!" When she's done, we take a look at her drawing and she's rather impressed. She even put in the smiley face in the center of one of the flowers and can't believe the mouth and eyes are all in the right place. SEE?!!!

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