February 16, 2014

February Challenge-Contour Drawing

“To see we must forget the name of the thing we are looking at.” 

                                                                                                      Claude Monet

 February Challenge:  Contour Drawing   by: Cynthia (Cindy) Powell ©2014

 Whether you work with positive or negative shapes, the size and shape of the subject being painted, is established at its edges, by the application of a line or the absence of one.  (Lost & Found)

“The quality of line is more important to the painting than mathematical precision” (Grant Fuller)

I’m not sure I agree with that statement but it certainly qualifies for “food for thought”.  What do you think?  Is perspective more important than shape or size?  Can a painting be a painting without one or the other?  Would it be considered an “Abstract” if it had no perspective? 

Why explore the concept of line drawing?  Art is line and without line we have no shape to objects, no vision-or comprehension of what we are seeing, no movement.  Lines are just one of the key elements to design and line defines the shape of all objects.  These lines can be thick or thin, visible or partially removed.  (Our brain fills in the blanks.)  Lines can also define the curve of an object or the 3-D plane along with light & shadows, which can also be defined by lines.  The lightness or darkness of a drawn line can determine where the shadows are on a subject.  These lines are called: “Cross contour lines”.  These cross contour lines create the depth of vision or depth of field in a painting.  They can be free form or be created using a straightedge depending on the object being sketched.  They can be quickly drawn or detailed with perfect accuracy, but it all takes practice.   
(Photo courtesy of Annie Wu)

The image I used, with permission from Annie, http://www.flickr.com/photos/anniew/  clearly shows depth of a person standing in a circle which could be a pool of water or simply a background to give added dimension.  Without these cross contour lines, we would have a very flat 2-dimensional outline only, which is what we usual use when painting images like landscapes.  What about urban landscapes?  Or flowers?  Would this technique of cross contour lines be beneficial?  Topography (map making) utilizes this method of drawing, but would it be useful as a tool in your art?  If so, then you may find these links useful:  They are links to tutorials for contour, blind contour and cross contour drawing.

A few other contour images to explore:
Blue stripped shells: (In Nature)

Wavy Lines:

 and: If you google: “contour drawing images”, you will discover a wealth of images to inspire your practice.  Grab your art journal and have fun!

 This image is from my art journal and the drawing is of glazed ceramic bottles that I used as a practice reference because I loved their shapes.  I first drew the shapes (outline only) in pencil, then painted the contour lines (+shapes) and finally, erased any pencil lines. 

To get crisp edges, you can use a piece of paper or other mask, like tape, then paint the lines and remove the mask.

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