This past weekend I attended a three-day workshop with Ruth Ellen Hoag, who travelled from Santa Barbara to Portland to show us some ways to use line in our paintings.
Standing over a large piece of paper and holding our pencil lightly at the end farthest from the point, we drew a still-life of kitchen utensils without looking at the paper or lifting our pencils. This exercise allowed the eye to take in information objectively, without judgement of what the line looked like. I have done blind contour drawing before and absolutely love it. After drawing the still-life Ruth had arranged at the front of the classroom, I made half a dozen blind contour drawings from reference photos I had brought from home. Here are the two that I later turned into paintings:
These drawings were traced onto watercolor paper, keeping two objectives in mind: to attach the subject to more than two edges, and to pay attention to the negative space created by the edges of the paper. We were reminded that negative space is as important as positive space and should be an opportunity to create interest in your painting. I chose not to refine my wonky line drawings, as I loved the personality they brought to my subjects. Here are the finished paintings from the line drawings above.
I am a shape painter, so I wasn’t surprised to see my lines turn into shapes. I did not alter my original blind drawings, and I like the personality of the lines that formed my son’s ear, the ice-cream cone, and the detailed flowers in the vase.
Here are some timed blind drawings I made last winter looking out the classroom window at Oregon Society of Artists.
Try making some blind contour drawings of your own and see where they take you. What will you do with the line in your painting? Develop your own personality and let line be your guide.