Friday, January 8, 2010

Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, Contour Drawing

Oh, no, please not contour drawings!!!! Arggggh, terrifying, ugly contour drawings.

Ok, so some of you don't know what they are.

What they are is what most MOST artists used to loosen up before they start work. Play, draw.

What they do is practice engaging the right brain, and sending the left brain on a little job, like ... far away.

Here's what you do.
Tape your drawing paper on your table. Put your pencil at a starting point on a page. Then turn away from your paper. You will be drawing your hand. This is what it will look like, taken from your book.

Draw your hand.
The point is not to draw pretty. Or to draw a likeness. the point is to draw the edges, to train your eye to SEE. Because you've never really looked.
Draw all the little details, the little wrinkles and folds. Get absorbed in your hand.
You are doing this very slowly. You can set a timer for at least 20 minutes. Move your eye slowly around your hand, the same speed you're drawing.

You may be tempted too, or your left brain will trick you. But you'll ruin the practice and have to start over. So don't cheat.

Betty Edwards say this is THE MOST IMPORTANT EXERCISE in the entire course.

It will NOT look pretty. It WILL look like spaghetti soup. Or chicken scratchings. Except worse.

The whole point is to train your eye and your brain to SEE again, and to get your hand to do that.

I look forward to lots of noodle soup. 'tis the right season for it. Yummmm.

I love all those left-brainers saying: this is completely crazy. You can't learn to draw like this. This is for children.

Actually, children don't NEED this exercise, because they can still see. They don't have any preconceived idea or image of what a hand 'should' look like.

But I promise you that this exercise will lead you to start drawing amazing, realistic hands.

Off you go!


  1. These are so good for the artist.

  2. Honestly, I have been saying...'Oh No...oh noooooo..not this, anything but this...this is dreadful! Oh no...noooooooo!' But, off I go! xoxoxox!