Last night was the annual Monster Drawing Rally benefit for Midway Contemporary Art. I was happy to participate again this year. Since I’ve been exploring the realm of photography more and more in my work, this time around I chose to perform one of the exercises I do when I really want to study a great photo: making a blind contour drawing.
I only had an hour, so I decided to focus on just one photographer whose work is definitely worth detailed study, namely Alec Soth. I picked four images from his book, Niagara, and spent 10-15 minutes on each. While wearing a pair of ski goggles with tape over the right eye to keep me from cheating (see the drawing someone did of me*), I traced the contours of the image until I felt I had a complete picture. The results are always strange, and I felt rushed during the event, so these aren’t necessarily the best examples. But in my opinion there is no deeper way to study a photograph than to make a blind contour drawing of it. Try it. I guarantee that even if you’ve looked at a particular photo 100 times, new insights will suddenly appear and at the very least you’ll never see that picture the same way again.
After “Melissa” (one of my all-time favorite photos)
After “Comfort Inn”
After “Rebecca” (another favorite)
(My apologies for the poor-quality photos. I had to snap these at the event before giving them away to be sold.)
*Here is the drawing another artist did of me while I was working. I can’t make out the name. She just quietly handed it to me. I was in the middle of one of the drawings, so I didn’t get a change to catch her name. Anybody know who this is?
Update: I believe the artist is Claire Strautmanis.