Monday, April 19, 2010

I posted these Contour Drawings earlier, but have had several questions so I thought I would write about them more; what the process is, what the objective is..

Contour drawings are all about learning to see - observation!

Begin by choosing an object. It might be a simple object like a doll (my first image) or a photo (the second image) or another drawing (third). Choosing a simple object to start is best, clean lines,minimal detail.

Place this object in direct view, but away from your drawing surface. If you are quilting then the machine is in front of you and the object should be to your right or left or perhaps above you (the doll and photo were about 18 inches in front of me and just slightly higher than eye level). They should be in a place where looking is easy not strained.

You are going to move your eye slowly along the edge of the object. Meanwhile you are moving your hand at the same rate you are moving your eye (thus the slow motion of eye!). Keep moving your eyes and following with your hands -- not looking at your hand/drawing. One discipline is not looking.

A contour drawing should be done for one to five minutes. All that time you are focusing on the object and NOT looking at the drawing.

The drawing will not look like the object. People who are deft at this and practice a lot still have drawings that look amateur. The resulting drawing is NOT the point. The act of looking IS!
When I did the first drawing I used all white thread on a black ground. The second and third I began with a thread that blended more with the fabric. Did a second drawing atop the first in a slightly more prominent thread and then did a sighted drawing (looking at object and drawing) with a contrasting thread. This way I was using one quilt sandwich and getting several contours out of it! You can do the same thing with drawing - I have used coloured pencil on paper and used a pale colour, then darker then darkest. Then I can differentiate the first attempt from second and so on.

Give it a try.
Remember the objective is LOOKING!
Your drawing might not look like the object! And that is fine!


FiberAntics said...

Nysha: on these pieces, did you actually free-motion "draw" using the sewing machine? Or did you do the pencil contour drawing first and transfer it to cloth for the free-motion work? Interesting stuff!

Nysha said...

No I did a contour drawing in the classical sense, not looking at what I was drawing, but rather than move my pencil I moved my fabric and free motion quilted each time. A great exercise!