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  • Writer's pictureHilda Van Netten

Blind Contour Portrait

I often start my drawing workshops with this activity.

Here's how it goes. Find a person who is sitting still. Could be your husband sleeping in his chair, your child playing with legos, your friend on FaceTime. In the workshops we use the person across the table from us.

You'll need two things: paper and a writing instrument. Pretty easy to find. I used a sketchbook and a pencil for this one.

You will be learning to see. To teach your brain to see, you need to concentrate and to challenge the brain. The challenge is that you are not allowed to look at the paper!!!!

Relax and tell yourself that it doesn't matter what is going to look like. Tell yourself to pay attention to the shapes of every part of your subject's head. Really pay attention.

Start anywhere. It doesn't matter if the ear ends up under the chin. Look at the curves, the angles, the shapes. Don't name things, just pay attention and, if necessary, pretend you are following a bug traveling around each shape. Anything to move from your logical brain to your spacial parts.

To give you an example of what I want to see, I've posted two blind contour portraits of Ted working in the shop. I am not worried that the head is too skinny, that the wrinkles are out of place, that the one on the right has two foreheads. Once I've learned to really see, I can fix these things by actually looking at the paper.

What I am looking for is that I've paid attention the the shape of the nostril, the pursed lip.

Try it for yourself! Send me a copy of your attempt! Can't wait to see them.

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