Blind Contour Drawings: Homeschool Art Lessons

One of my favorite drawing techniques is blind contour drawing, drawing the outline of an object or person without looking at your paper, so I thought it’d be a fun end to our focus on lines.

Using the blind contour drawing lesson from as reference, we began by drawing some ordinary objects I’d brought from home (a shoe, a toy, a pitcher, a stuffed animal, etc.) The guidelines were:

  1. Draw very slowly like your pen is riding on a snail (not Turbo the snail)
  2. Don’t look at your paper, just follow the contour and lines of the object with your eyes while you draw, and
  3. Use one continuous line, without picking up your pen.
  4. Also, BONUS, it doesn’t have to look like what you’re drawing!

Well, there was class-wide uproar! Draw without looking! What?! You’d think I’d asked them to draw while standing on their heads.

Ok, so there was some apprehension and skepticism to overcome, but once we got going (it did take some time) I could see most of them were basically getting the hang of it. I told them that learning this technique would give them the ability to draw anything. When they rushed through and weren’t really seeing (or drawing) what they were looking at, I said I was trying to teach them to SEE what they were looking at. I love this quote from Andy Warhol that applies…

“…we spend much of our lives seeing without observing.” ~Andy Warhol

After drawings objects, we drew our own hands and then each other’s faces. This lightened the mood as they were laughed about how funny the faces turned out. Except for our 1st grader, who, after seeing the drawing I’d done of her face, said, “That’s awful!”  LOL.

During our first 1-hour session, the kids really struggled not to look at their papers so for the 2nd session I brought paper plates (I recommend the smaller size paper plates) and we punched holes in the centers and slid their pens through so it covered their hand and paper while they drew. This helped some of them and annoyed the others.

In our second session, we started out doing blind contour drawings and then transitioned to contour drawings of the same objects, where they still spent a lot of time looking at the object instead of their paper, but looked down occasionally to gauge distance or to lift their pen and move to a new line, etc.

Here are some from our 2nd session and you can see the transition from blind contour to contour…

 I spent 2 1-hour sessions on this project. Our preschooler drew whatever he wanted, which of course was fine, and completely expected. Our 1st grader really struggled but she tried really hard and mostly looked at her paper. As you can probably tell from her comment above, she didn’t like having her drawings not look remotely like the object. Our 3rd grader, once he got the hang of it, was the most comfortable and was very focused! (This is the one who would rather be playing basketball). Our 5th graders varied from refusal-to-try to rushing-rushing-rushing, to having-fun-with-it… It’s just a technique, and if it helps them great; if not, fine. There are other techniques and we’ll cover those too….

Since these sessions seem to have traumatized most of the kids to some degree, we’ll be doing something fun next week, a belated Chinese New Year art party!…


Here are some other lesson plans I found on blind contour drawing: (This is a long wordy post but has some great info) (Very detailed, shows a picture of how the paper plate barrier works and includes a lesson on contour drawing as well)

And some videos on YouTube on blind contour drawing and contour drawing that might be helpful. (There are a lot of others but I actually watched these.)

Posted in Blog Posts, Fabric of Life, Homeschool Tagged with: , ,

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