Blind contour self-study
For this class, I would like you to buy Kimon Nicolaides' The Natural Way to Draw and Robert Beverly Hales' Drawing Lessons from the Great Masters. Please read section one in the Nicolaides book (Contour and Gesture) as well as section seven (Contour).
For next week, please do a life-size self-portrait using either the blind contour method or your left hand (wrong hand) or both. If that seems impossible to sustain, then use a modified contour line being both passionately concerned with the quality of line and the three dimensional overlapping of form--where does a line recede behind another form, where does it come up over and forward? As line travels over form it moves over mountains and valleys (like footprints over dunes at the beach ). Maybe the valley of the chin is in shadow--if the line presses into the depth it becomes darker, telling you it is in a crevice--or likewise up over a plateau, the light hits first and so you travel not only up (and so lift up with the pencil) but also in one fell swoop, indicate the direction of the light. In light of this, look at Picasso drawings, Matisse drawings, Japanese drawings (Hiroshige, or Hokusai). You might use a hand mirror so you could continue at school. Don't assume you know what you look like. Believe you are seeing your image for the first time, recording with the extension of your finger (pencil) every registration of the conviction of touch. As in class, try to make your hand and eye move at the same slow speed...you can peek at the paper, but be concerned NOT with a likeness but with the observation, with SEEING THROUGH YOUR SENSE OF TOUCH. If this is approached in the right way, it will probably look distorted and a little abstract. More like an electrocardiogram of your experience of touch. Contour comes from con tornare (with the turn of the form). Work over and around the form. Remember, an outline is something a cop makes to indicate the position of a dead body. It tells you nothing of the three dimensional quality of the form--so remember to travel cross-country (over and around the form) and don't stay on the coastline.
Work 5 feet or larger, use compressed charcoal pencil, pencil, or India ink and pen. Buy a roll of cheap paper (photo backdrop or inexpensive bond paper). You'll need the remainder of the roll for other assignments.