Monday, October 28, 2013

A contour line leads to Illinois

A contour drawing (c) Philip Hartigan, posted with permission of the artist
Last week I was searching the internet for contour drawings and came on this one by Philip Hartigan, an English artist living and working in Illinois. It's a "blind" contour drawing, a slow and sensitive method in which the artist draws while not looking at the paper, instead concentrating totally on the subject and following with the pencil or pen every little bump and hollow as if touching the edge of the form with a fingertip. Contour drawing was one of the elements of the teaching of Kimon Nicolaïdes in the first half of the 20th century. Later, Betty Edwards popularised it in her best-selling book, Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain.

As so often happens, this one link led to a whole lot more. Philip Hartigan is a painter, printmaker and sculptor and he writes for Hyperallergic. His stop-motion animations are a delight to watch. He also does some university teaching.

Some more videos:
Hartigan briefly describes an installation of toy soldiers, 1 min 12 secs
A Google Hangout conversation with P.E. Sharpe, Philip Hartigan, Hrag Vartanian and Jillian Steinhauer of Hyperallergic. -- 35 mins.
A Google Hangout interview, 1 hr


Jerry Gene said...

Very informative and well written post! Quite interesting and nice topic chosen for the post.

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Philip Hartigan said...

Thanks for the sensitive comments, Mary. I like your description of contour drawing as like using your fingertip on the edge of the object. I think I'll use that the next time I teach this method.

Mary Adam said...

Thanks for everything Philip! I had meant to say something about the special qualities of contour drawing ... how it conveys three dimensions by line alone because of the intensity of seeing; and how it directly communicates the artist's experience to the viewer, from artist's hand to viewer's eye, almost unmediated -- I can't think of anything else with quite that effect.

JoyCorcoran said...

I found your blog through Philip Hartigan's facebook page. Thanks for sharing his work. These are excellent contours, but even sloppier ones teach so much about seeing. I'm enjoying browsing your blog. Thanks!

Mary Adam said...

Thanks Joy. I agree 100%, even sloppier ones teach a lot about seeing. There weren't that many to choose from on Google Images, strangely. And when I think about it I haven't done any sustained contours like this one of Philip's for years -- this is a signal to correct that!