blind contour tests my patiance
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    blind contour tests my patiance

    Hey guys and gals, how's your art? I hope it's going great!

    Well, today i present you with a problem, at least i think so. Lately, I've been doing blind contours to discover the benefits of such painstaking exercises. I'm trying to follow the book The Natural Way To Draw by Kimon Nicholiades, it's the closest to an art class i can get right now and i think the self disciplin gained would be wonderful. In doing these blind contour drawings, i find myself battleing an inside voice that is VERY impatient. I've read that this impatient voice is the left side of the brain, but who knows. As i'm drawing, I can't help but think how much time i have left; however, i quickly try to regain focus on what i'm doing and what i'm drawing. I can seem to do these blind contours for 30 minute without much struggle (which use to seem impossible for me) but now i'm presented with a 60 minute blind contour which is very difficult for me to complete. I play my ipod to subdue this impatient voice, but i'm afraid that listening to music may take away from the learning experience of the exercise. I guess I need some clarity and i KNOW this is the right place to recieve such advice. Thanks in advance!

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    Try some ambient music, or perhaps Bach harpsichord music.

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    In my life drawing class, the purpose of being forced to do blind contour drawings over and over and over was to increase our focus and attention spans for something so concentration heavy as drawing. We learned to focus by HTFUing and just biting the bullet.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Pezzle View Post
    We learned to focus by HTFUing and just biting the bullet.
    beautiful! So i'm on the right track, i suppose.

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    You're not alone, I've always had a hard time with doing blind contours, they just bore me. The funny thing is, I've never had any problems focusing while drawing (even when there are many distractions around that would disrupt other people), so the whole concept is just kind of lost on me.

    With that said, it seems to be working for you, so just try to suffer through it as best you can.

    If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all. -Michelangelo

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scribble King View Post
    You're not alone, I've always had a hard time with doing blind contours, they just bore me. The funny thing is, I've never had any problems focusing while drawing (even when there are many distractions around that would disrupt other people), so the whole concept is just kind of lost on me.

    With that said, it seems to be working for you, so just try to suffer through it as best you can.
    Not just drawing, but drawing observationally. Actually looking at the figure and noticing and transcribing every little nuance you see, instead of looking more at your paper and drawing what you think should be there - that takes a lot of concentration, at first almost an uncomfortable amount. That's something that blind contours force you to see, even if you don't reap the benefits immediately. I was surprised at how many people in class couldn't standing taking their time and really lock eyes with the figure... it's almost discomforting.

    I didn't mean drawing concentration in general.

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    Zazerzs is offline ....bing me the bore worms Level 7 Gladiator: Samnite
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    I'm sorry you have to do those I don't see how after doing one or two that they are useful anymore. I guess it gets the beginner to look at the model but after that whats the point?

    I guess my point being that you design when you draw and you cant design when you aren't looking at what you are doing so beyond it being a pure exercise its a waste of time.

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    Blind contour drawing is said to improve hand-eye coordination and helps you to draw blind eventually (ie: spend your time 90% looking at the subject and using your hand to draw really accurately even when you're not looking at your paper much, if at all). That's why some people can look at a subject and draw without looking at the paper and the result is exactly the same as the subject.

    But 60 mins of blind contour drawing is insane! You might as well go for solitary confinement in a jail cell with white walls and ceilings for 4 weeks.

    A daily 10 min session of blind contour drawing as mentioned in Edwards' book is good enough.

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    60 minutes for a blind contour seems excessive. There are more beneficial things you could do with an hour.

    Last edited by JJacks; November 25th, 2009 at 01:35 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pezzle View Post
    Not just drawing, but drawing observationally. Actually looking at the figure and noticing and transcribing every little nuance you see, instead of looking more at your paper and drawing what you think should be there - that takes a lot of concentration, at first almost an uncomfortable amount. That's something that blind contours force you to see, even if you don't reap the benefits immediately. I was surprised at how many people in class couldn't standing taking their time and really lock eyes with the figure... it's almost discomforting.

    I didn't mean drawing concentration in general.
    Yes, I'm well aware of what the exercise entails, but I tend to study the subject intently as I draw it anyway. To me, form and accuracy are easier to acquire when you're keeping track of the lines you lay down. I guess what I'm saying is that blind contour never really helped me much, but I'm sure others benefit from it.

    If people knew how hard I worked to get my mastery, it wouldn't seem so wonderful at all. -Michelangelo

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    The schedules in NWTD are pretty brutal! [HAIL COURTYARD!!!]

    I've read the entire book (it's been awhile), but I've only ever worked through about 20 to 25% of it-- cheating on the time requirements all the way!

    It's definitely worth learning his take on Gesture drawing though.

    It's all 'sposed to be "welded" together in the end per Nicolaides:

    Things are "sketched" through gesture; massed up through "extended gesture," "modelled drawing," and "cross contour." Finally, not so blind contour is used to flesh out the details. [All the seperate components thus "welded."]

    I'm not sure if Nicolaides' method ever developed any hard-core "school" of disciples. And, I couldn't name any old-timey artists who exlusively attribute their "method" (like "The Reilly Method") to the "Nicolaides Method."

    Nicolaides dropped dead in his 40s without publishing NWTD which, instead, was "assembled" from his draft manuscript and student drawings. So, he wasn't around to have people writing letters to him asking questions or lodging complaints that might have led to a better (perhaps less brutal) version of the course.

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    Blind contour might help you getting rid of the habit of petting your lines but that's it.

    It's like the technique of flipping a portrait photo and copying it as a grayscale. It does cheat you out of drawing your bad knowledge of a face (see police sketch thread) but it doesn't help you improve your understanding of a face. Because what needs to improve is what you know.

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    A 60 min blind contour seems the perfect way to take all the enjoyment out of drawing...

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    Betty Edwards does not understand the deeper purposes of blind contour drawing, and she misinterprets what Niccolaides means by "seeing". None of Niccolaides's drawing exercises turn out looking the way reality appears to the eyes, it's that way intentionally: "You, whether consciously or not, will draw what you see in the light of your experience". Niccolaides exercises are not intended as drawing techniques, but as ways of pointing out different experiences. For the most part drawing techniques are conventions invented for the convenience of making certain types of pictures, a person can ape the style and appear to be an artist, to the undiscriminating eye, when they really aren't. "Merely to see, therefore, is not enough." Because sight without a mind behind it is just a bunch of meaningless blobs of light.
    "The artist's job in the beginning is to reach out for raw material." Individual experience. You can't get individual experience when you're concentrating on a technique. You can't understand a technique if you don't know the experience which prompted it's invention.

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    Nicolaides is hardcore, I think if you have the tenacity to follow through the whole book you'd gain a natural instinct to drawing that it becomes like breathing. I remember doing the blind contour...that was like having an unbearable itch on your back that you can't reach..but I notice that I become more attentive to what I draw afterwards. I think that's one of the big points of blind contour is that it really forces you to look, I mean really look at the subject without any preconceived notion that would usually filter through when you look away from the subject which can mar the drawing and make it less accurate,

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    I've found blind contour drawing to be very helpful for developing a sense of tactility when drawing- feeling what you are drawing. It also develops coordination/relation between the muscle movements of your eye and hand. The fancy word for this is proprioception, and it is actually quite useful in drawing. 60 minutes might be excessive, but it is still a useful exercise.

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