Follow the Line

This week, try not to even think about Drawing; instead, let’s just “follow the line” and see where it goes. You might end up with a Drawing, you might not but wherever you end up will be interesting. It’s all about the journey here, not the destination!

Still confused about what you’re doing here? Read this…


youR TuRn to DraW!

  • Try “automatic drawing“: place your pen/pencil on the page somewhere in the middle, close your eyes and start to move your pen along with whatever thoughts are flowing through your imagination. When you feel you are “done”, open your eyes, turn the page this way and that and try to identify shapes, symbols, or characters that emerge. Some groups of lines might even be a germ of an idea interesting enough to develop on a new clean sheet.

    Here are some more automatic drawings from my sketchbook:
  • Automatic writing“: Similar to “automatic drawing”, this one works with either pen and paper, or a keyboard/typewriter. Close your eyes and start banging away, first with single letters, then whole words, and maybe some sentences will appear.  At some point the words run out, open your eyes and try to make sense of what you’ve written. Some sentence or phrase will jump out at you and there might be enough there to begin a new story.
  • Have a look at blind-contour drawing: You need two sheets of paper and a pen/biro or sharpened pencil. Set up or determine your subject (still life? a plant? your own face in the mirror?). Set a timer for, say, 15 minutes. Place the first sheet on a table, place your pen on the paper in the middle, decide on a starting point. With your non-drawing hand, hold the second sheet over your drawing surface to prevent you seeing what you’re drawing – and follow the contours of what your subject, slowly, and deliberately, without lifting your pen or looking at your drawing paper, LOOK AT YOUR SUBJECT and let your pen draw each edge/contour/outline as you perceive it. TAKE YOUR TIME. Try to keep your pen drawing the same edge you are looking at as you see it. Here’s an example of me drawing my avocado seedling, which you might try yourself. REMEMBER to LOOK at your subject, NOT your paper!

    When you’ve finished, or when the timer runs out, have a look at your drawing. You may be surprised – though the drawing may not look like your bowl of fruit, plant, or face – you have taken down, with 100% accuracy, every single contour you encountered as you saw it. This exercise is extremely helpful in building your observational skills as well as hand-eye coordination.
    Here’s a quick blind contour drawing self-portrait:

Maybe this Ransom Note makes you think of something else? Let me know!


ShaRe the LovE

You’ve come this far, now why not

<<<<< click to share your creativity – @beware.of.artists

Not only does your creativity need YOU, but here’s a surprise, the world needs your creativity, too! By sharing your response to a Ransom Note, we are building a community who will enjoy, be inspired by, and learn from each other. Who knows, maybe some of us will “find our tribe” or even make the world that tiny bit more pleasant to be in than it was 15 minutes ago!


Some OtheR artists whO foLLow the Line

  • Paul Klee The Swiss artist who came up with “Take a line for a walk” as a way to instigate a drawing.

    Paul Klee, ‘Burdened Children’, 1930 (image: tate.org.uk)
  • Tracey Emin A British artist who often uses automatic writing and drawing in her work

    Tracey Emin, ‘Exploration of the Soul’, 1994 (image: tate.org.uk)
  • Laura Ljungkvist artist and illustrator of “Follow the Line”, a delightful children’s book about counting

    Laura Ljungkvist, ‘Follow the Line’, 2006 (image: amazon.com)
  • Surrealist Automatism

What other artists or techniques can you think of? Let me know!

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