Blind-contour drawing means drawing an object or
scene without looking at your paper. This is the perfect
exercise to develop our observation skills, since we are
forced to completely focus on our subject rather than
ﬁddling with the drawing on the page. As our drawings
improve, we need to get used to spending most of our
time observing the object with only very quick glances
at the paper from time to time.
For this exercise you are not allowed to look at the
paper at all, which is actually harder than it sounds.
If you’re anything like me you’ll be itching to have a
look at your drawing, but it’s important to RESIST that
urge. The hardest part of this exercise is losing your
way—once you take your pen oﬀ the page, it’s very
diﬃcult to work out where in the drawing you are, so
it’s tempting to take a quick glance. But by creating a
drawing without looking at the subject, you will start
to “feel” the outlines of the object, training yourself to
draw what you can actually see rather than what you
think you should see.
I ﬁnd that working in this way allows me to relax and
enjoy the process of creation—I can’t worry about
how the drawing is looking, because I can’t see it. This
is another exercise I use when I need to warm up and
loosen up. It’s an invaluable way to begin sketching
anything new, as it gives you space to properly
observe and understand the subject. This adventure
will produce drawings that in some areas may seem
muddled and disoriented, but in many others will be
beautifully observed, demonstrating the enormous
value of keen perception.