Is blind contour drawing too difficult for young children?(art class lesson 3)

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hand drawing

One of the most important concepts in drawing is contour drawing. That is basically drawing the lines of the object onto your paper. A very popular pre activity to contour drawing is blind contour drawing, where you don’t look at your paper while you are drawing. The point is to get the idea of following the contours with your eyes and moving your pencil along at the same time. Accuracy does not matter.

So I decided that since I was going to try to get the girls to move into copying objects and pictures, which is really contour drawing, then I was going to start them off with some blind contour drawing.

What better object to start them off with than their own hands. They have them right next to them and there is no way they can’t see the object they are following. I had them hold up their hands and we followed the lines with our hands…then I told them to try with pencil.

What I found was that it didn’t work. Plain and simple. Either they couldn’t stop themselves from looking at their paper or else they knew the object they were drawing and drew what they thought it should look like as opposed to really seeing it. Above is a fairly typical sample of what was done. (I may have to try it again with a less familiar object)

I decided to move into just trying to copy an object.

I am working on trying to figure out the mechanics of children drawing. I know the Monart method of Mona Brooks which I once taught in a drawing class for children where she believes in teaching children the 5 elements of shape, because once they know the language of shape they can draw. When I taught this to some children a few years ago I was not totally convinced that they were really using the elements of shape to construct their pictures and am in the process of figuring out the best way to get them to copy life and pictures. (wish me luck).

I showed them this teapot (I put it in the middle of  the tables so they saw it from different angles) and told them to try drawing it.

I went over the contours with them and said they should just try it.


I had them first try to draw the teapot through the plastics I talked about in lesson 1 of the art class but, I am finding that there is a problem with these plastics.

Firstly they need a way to keep them steady as they are holding them in their hands now and it is hard to work on them that way and secondly they need to be pretty close up to the object for it to be large enough to get  a decent size rendition. (I’ll be working on that)

They then tried drawing it on paper and the 4 results below is just a sampling but, most of the kids did a pretty good rendition of the teapot.

teapot 1

teapot 2

teepot 3

teapot 4

I then moved to a flat image. I chose something very easy with simple lines and told them to try to copy it

full duck

I put up a few pictures closer to where the girls were sitting so they could all get a good view of it.

ducks hung up

Most of them got fairly good depictions of this duck even though I gave almost no instruction on how to do it.

duck 1

duck 2

duck 3

duck 4

duck 5

They were itching to start painting already so we got going. I added black to their palette this time and when we do this kind of painting, only these 5 colors are used so they can mix the colors they need.

paints with black added

As they each work independently there were some nice things that different girls discovered.

One of them discovered that when she works with a really fine brush she can do detailed work.

painting with fine brush

There was one girl having a grand ole time mushing her painted aluminum foil onto plain sheets of paper and then folding them up. I showed the girls how they could make mirror paintings and one girl followed up with her own.

mirror painting

Another girl discovered gray. The girls all thought it was silver and it created quite a stir as they gathered around her to see her discovery.

discovering gray

Another girl made a beautiful butterfly but, then interesting enough mushed over the whole thing before she finished.

butterfly painting

And then I tried to encourage the girls to incorporate some of the pictures we drew of the teapot or duck into their paintings. One of them made a duck without anything else in the picture.

adding duck to painting

One of my goals is to teach them how to actually put together a picture with various components, like background, foreground and objects that belong in each part.

So that’s the end of week 3. I ordered watercolors for week 4 so if they come in time we are going to tackle that.

Any comments? I’d love to hear from you

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