When we first picked up a pen or pencil and started making marks on paper, we began with a line. Whether self-taught, through trial and error, or guided by others, we learned how line defines form, creates structure, divides a frame, traces contour, creates tonal variation (cross-hatching, for example), and leads the eye from one part of a work to another. Initially a mechanism for getting outlines onto paper – identifying edges – we begin to applaud lines for their own merit: celebrate their presence whether a quiet flick of charcoal on paper or a streak of graphite.
This article contains exercises for Art students who wish to produce contour line drawings, cross contour drawings, blind drawings, and other types of line drawings. It is a teaching aid for high school Art students and includes classroom activities.
Blind Contour Drawing
Definition : A blind contour drawing contains lines that are drawn without ever looking at the piece of paper. This forces you to study a scene closely, observing every shape and edge with your eyes, as your hand mimics these on paper. The aim is not to produce a realistic artwork, but rather to strengthen the connection between eyes, hand, and brain: a reminder that, when drawing, you must first learn to see.
Blind Drawing Exercises : Blind drawing is an excellent way to start a high school Fine Art program. Drawing wobbly lines that bear little resemblance to the chosen object is relaxing and stress-free. Often, a classroom bubbles with laughter at the unexpected results. Blind drawing stretches the arms and soul; eases you into observational drawing without fear.
Gesture Drawing / Timed Drawing / Movement Drawing
Definition : A gesture drawing is completed quickly – often in short timed durations, such as 20, 30, 60, or 90 seconds – using fast, expressive lines. Gesture drawings capture basic forms and proportions – the emotion and essence of a subject – without focusing on detail. Due to their rapid completion, they are a great way to record movement and action, as well as increase your drawing speed, confidence, and intuitive mark-making skill. Gesture drawings are best completed with smooth, easily applied mediums (chunky graphite pencils, charcoal sticks, pastels, soft brushes dipped in Indian ink, for example), without the use of an eraser. They are often completed on large, inexpensive sheets of paper, where you can move your arm fluidly, be bold with mark-making, and not worry about mistakes. As with blind drawings, gesture drawing is an ideal warm-up activity.