B is for Blind Contour Line

| May 1, 2014

Back to where it all began–lines! In Fall 2012, I took Intro to Painting with Olga Hubard (which I LOVED and highly recommend; she’s a truly inspired professor and the class never once felt like “work.” /shamelessplug) One of our in-class assignments was blind contour line painting, in which we tried to paint something–first a still life, then a model–without looking down at the canvas paper. The idea was to get the essential “feel” for the shape and appearance of what we were painting, without adding any visual preconceptions. We also did “gesture” drawing for that same purpose, capturing the fundamental lines which make up an image or pose without adding in the details. Some of the results were laughably bad, others were actually pretty good. While reading and discussing Ingold way back when, I kept thinking about this exercise, the physical experience of visually-oriented phenomena, and the idea of lines as felt or perceived rather than necessarily seen. This concept also reemerged–and blends nicely with Schusterman’s somaesthetics–in a later painting assignment in which we were told to portray a single object in three different ways. I chose my yoga mat, and one of the paintings showed it in use as a figure moved through a Sun Salutation sequence. To better capture the poses, I would perform the salutations in between painting them, feeling the shapes within my body and letting that inform the visuals I created. I like these parallels between seeing, feeling/experiencing and interpreting; it reminds me that aesthetic perception, and experiential perception, engages all our senses and organs, from eyes to skin to brain. Even something as apparently visual as painting.

(Couldn’t find a shot of *just* the Sun Salutation painting, so have some other stuff while you’re at it ;D )