Drawing without looking

Things really start to get interesting when you realise that you don’t have to look at your paper when you draw. You’ll start to feel some of the excitement of being able to draw with some totally new techniques. The results may not be exactly what you expect at first, but they will lead you on to doing some of the most exciting drawing, that will be spontaneous and lively.

It is important to remember how you can trick the left side of your brain to stay out of the way while you are drawing simply by turning the image upside down. This meant that the left part of the brain had great difficulty recognising objects and deciding what they were supposed to look like because they were not in their normal places. You were beginning to see lines, spaces, and curves instead of everyday objects. You were beginning to draw with the artistic side of your brain.

Seeing the shape of objects clearly

When you look at a scene, it usually has a number of objects in it with some in front, some in the middle and some behind. The ones in front obscure bits of the ones behind and but where ever they meet, the two objects share a common line. The lines in any scene create a sort of jigsaw with different shapes that all fit joining together to form a complete picture.

Seeing where lines meet is critical to being able to draw well.

So this is how to make sure that you can see the lines in front of you and draw them without the two sides of the brain interfering with one another.

This is what to do – you will need about twenty minutes.

Tape a piece of paper to a table or desk, or use a drawing pad that is large enough not to move while you draw.

Sit near the table or desk, so that you can draw on the paper, but then keeping your arm and hand in a position to start drawing, turn away, so that you cannot see what you are drawing. This is vital – you must not look at what you are doing during the drawing process. If you look you will have to start again!

Now, while looking in the opposite direction, look carefully at your hand.

Choose one part of it, say near your wrist and look at the edge. Place your pencil on the paper.

Drawing Contours or outlines

Now, slowly move your eyes along the edge you have chosen, observing each change in the contour, millimetre by millimetre. At the same time, move your pencil to draw the contours on your paper – without looking.

Follow the outline and the ridges on your hand and fingers, slowly drawing the shapes you see without worrying what the result will look like on the paper. It will help to keep the pencil in contact with the paper all the time to try and give you some idea of where you are, but it is not vital. Move the pencil to follow the movements of your eye and try and cover every detail that you see.

The important thing that you will get out of this exercise is that you are seeing with an artist’s eye, lines, shapes, relationships – seeing things in a different way – and that is where good drawing begins.

During the drawing you may have noticed that your state of consciousness had changed slightly – switching off the left side of your brain and letting the right side take over – losing track of time, forgetting about the objects themselves but rather their relationships.

What you will end up with is likely to be a strange drawing, but one which is a record of the transition into the creative mode of drawing and thinking. Here is an example of what you may draw.


Yours will probably be nothing like this – it doesn’t matter – it is yours. Try do do this a few times and see if your hand/eye coordination gets better with a bit of practice. I can assure you that it will!!

If you have time, try drawing other objects in the same way.

The more practice you can get the better. For example, try drawing a flower, or plant, a chair, a kitchen appliance, a shoe or a small table.

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