Art School Teacher: Blind Drawing

 blind drawing of sound, student #1

In mindfulness class we close our eyes 
and watch the breath 
and then imagine the breath as a line.

Without opening the eyes, 
the students pick up their pens 
and draw the line of sound I play on the flute,
allowing the pen to react to the changing quality of the sound.  

Then the students make blind contour drawings of their hands, 
this time with eyes open, but fixed on the object 
while the pen draws the line traced by the eye without looking at the paper. 

blind drawing of sound, student #2

The first set of drawings fill the papers making elaborate compositions.  

But the second set of drawings, with eyes open, studying the line of an object, are different.
 I ask what they notice about the second set of compositions.  

One student notices that everyone stayed to one corner or just the center of the paper. 

Why? I ask.  

Because it's the comfort zone, another replies. 

I challenge them, with eyes open and looking at their papers, 
to use lines to expand the composition out to at least three edges of the paper. 

I learned that rule from my ninth grade art teacher 
whose name I can't remember 
but who had a profound impact, 
spending weeks on blind contour drawing. 

blind drawing of sound, student #3

And then we make view finders
and I ask them to use the view finders on each of their two drawings
to find a new composition 

(maybe ones that go off three sides of the paper)

and to then enlarge the composition in the view finder onto big paper.  

At the end of the class, I collect all the papers,
telling the students that these are my favorite student drawings.  

They groan. 

1 comment:

  1. Loved your last line. They groaned, but secretly they loved what you said to them. I'm sure of it.