Recently I got to host a basic drawing workshop for a group of local high school students. We made single-sheet octavo booklets, filled them with blind contour and modified blind contour drawings of each other, and wrapped up the evening with full-sheet exquisite corpse drawings.
Contour drawings — blind and modified– are some of my favorite things to teach. In part because contour drawing is such a good example of how often learning to draw accurately is a function of drawing what we SEE and not what we think we know. The other part of my blind contour drawing love has to do with the buoyant, anxious, giddy energy that comes out when we start drawing each other in 30-second and 1-minute stints. It’s odd to be the subject of an artist’s intense looking stare. It is similarly odd to look at another person so closely in such an objective way: all angles, shadows, lines, and forms.
The set up for these partner drawings is socially awkward, but then the drawings we produce are worth it. The images serve as a release to the tension of the moment. The results are so goofy, and I would argue: charming, that they balance out the weird intimacy of staring and being stared at as we draw. People talk to each other as they draw. They laugh. They hoot when they see the results. I love it all.
The exquisite corpse drawings were similarly funny and freeing. After completing three sections of the drawings, each person worked back into the drawing with whatever colors they’d selected. The image featured here is one of my favorites. Oil pastels draw the way I always wished crayons did: smoothly and with rich full color.
Thanks to Dr. Jamie Edwards for having me out to speak to these students. It’s always a pleasure to preach the good “word” of drawing.