Perception and Passion

Austin Airport 1

“Every day of your life you can create something wonderful, so every day is going to be the same kind of wonderful day that every other day is – a day in which you discover something new because as you are painting or creating whatever it is you are creating, you are finding new ways in doing it.” – Faith Ringgold

Rugby and Woman

“Pure Contour Drawing” is a technique that helps disconnect the left (analytical) side of your brain, in order to engage the right (creative) side.  When doing a Pure Contour Drawing, you do not look at your sketch, but instead you slowly move your pen or pencil along the paper as your eye moves along the contours of the subject you are looking at.  The result is generally a bunch of squiggly lines.  But, as Betty Edwards states in her bestselling book Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain,

“Whatever the actual reason may be, I can assure you that Pure Contour Drawing will permanently change your ability to perceive.  From this point onward, you will start to see things differently and your skills in seeing and drawing will progress rapidly.  Look at your Pure Contour Drawing one more time and appreciate the quality of the marks you made in R-mode (right side of the brain)…These marks are true records of perception.”

Computer guy

I used a modified version of Pure Contour Drawing to create the sketches in this post.  I mostly looked at the people I was drawing, but I periodically, and quickly, looked down at my sketchbook.  When I was done drawing the contours, I shaded the faces and figures using line work.  I sketched a few of these drawings in the airport, and I sketched one at my sons’ rugby practice.  For the last sketch, I drew a model from an online figure drawing website called Figure & Gesture Drawing.


I had not drawn this way before, but Jack Turpin, a Vancouver-based artist (whose sketchbooks blew me away), suggested I give this technique a shot.  He said I would create unusual yet more expressive drawings.  He’s right, and I like it.

P.S.  The above quote is from the book The Element, by Sir Ken Robinson.  It’s a book about finding your passion, and how we can help ourselves and our children to lead happy and fulfilling lives.  If you like TED talks, watch Ken Robinson’s 2006 TED speech below.

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