Art Without Looking

In Looking Away, We Capture the Essence

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Did you try the self portrait from last week’s challenge? If not, you can read the full article HERE.

Here is my self portrait: I used a technique called Blind Contour Drawing. This is where you are only allowed to look at the thing that you are drawing and you absolutely must not look at the paper until you are finished. 

I was introduced to this style of drawing as part of my long term study with the School of Modern Psychology, and I now practice it regularly. I played with my drawing when it was done, painting one version and then making a kind of pop art copy with nine small prints where I coloured just my hair in different colours. My hair has been most of those colours at one point or another and this is the point - the mindfully creative aspect of these exercises. By meeting myself in this way, I connected with different versions of myself from over the years and popped back in time to recollect lessons from those days: What led me to have that hair colour? Why then? Why did I change it? Who am I now?

I’d love to see your self portraits, or, if you don’t want to share the work itself, I’d be interested to know any insights you discovered about yourself while doing this.

When I was learning about blind contour drawing, I came across an amazing lady called Elizabeth Layton. Living in the USA, Elizabeth was suffering from depression during retirement;  in 1977, at the age of 68, she began a drawing class. She learned about blind contour drawing and went on to have a distinguished career as an artist, using the medium to say what she wanted to say about the world and society. I found her story very moving and inspirational. Her grandchildren have set up a website to keep her message alive HERE.

This Week’s Challenge

I’ve chosen Blind Contour Drawing for this week’s creative challenge. It is a quick and fun way to draw and there is no pressure for the image on the paper to vaguely resemble the item you are drawing. I would recommend choosing some household items and doing a series of sketches with absolutely no judgement! To prove how much your drawing doesn’t need to look like the object, I’ve included some of my drawings here:

One reason this is such an appropriate exercise to do at the moment is that it takes a lot of focus; you will be concentrating so much on the act of drawing that you become absorbed, and for those moments you find relief from thoughts of lockdown and the current situation we are living in. It has been referred to as ‘yoga for the mind’. Plus you’ll have some cool artwork that you can experiment with colouring in, painting, repeat prints or however you choose to express yourself. 

One thing I’ve learned about blind contour drawing is that the beauty of this approach to drawing is that the essence of the item, or the object, or the person, always shines through.

So, even if your representation of a plant, or a group of jars from the cupboard, or whatever it is; even if it is in four parts on different corners of the paper, it doesn’t matter, the essence is still there. 

And while we are involuntarily reinventing ourselves and how we live at the moment, it is important to remember; our essence is still here. 

You can share your art, thoughts and insights here:


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Thank you and have a great week. X

PS. I still have some zen art kits and inspiration pebbles left in my shop, so if you’re gift shopping it is worth a look HERE.  

Sophie Walker

Mindful Creativity Practitioner, Artist and Writer., Attentive Art

I'm an Artist who studied psychology and mindfulness to help myself overcome some of life's challenges. Now I help others to do the same using creativity and psychology. I believe creativity holds the key to the enjoyment of life and I want to help everyone to feel good about yourself and your life.