Touch” Contour Drawing

A work­shop par­tic­i­pant try­ing out the “touch” method of con­tour drawing

In my last teacher work­shop, I showed how stu­dents can improve their draw­ing skills with dif­fer­ent types of con­tour draw­ing. In pre­vi­ous posts, I’ve talked about blind, mem­ory and guided con­tour draw­ing. Last, but not least, is “touch” con­tour draw­ing. This is another great way to train stu­dents to pay close atten­tion to their sub­jectthis time by using their sense of touch!

Use one paper lunch bag per stu­dent and num­ber them (ex. 20 stu­dents = 20 bags). Place one small item in each bag (a dif­fer­ent item in each bag, if pos­si­ble) and fold the top closed. Give one bag to each stu­dent and instruct them to wait until you tell them to begin. Pass out enough sheets of paper so that each stu­dent can fold their paper into four sec­tions and have one sec­tion per bag. You can num­ber the sec­tions if you want. If you have a large class, you may need two ses­sions for stu­dents to draw each of the objects, or just do as many draw­ings as you have time for and don’t worry about finishing.

Now, using a timer, allow stu­dents two min­utes to reach into their bags, care­fully feel their object, and then draw it with­out look­ing at it. (It’s okay for them to look at their draw­ings!) They can reach back in the bag to feel their object as many times as they need to. Encour­age them to take their time and include as much detail as pos­si­ble in their draw­ings. When the timer goes off, they pass their bag to the next per­son. (I sug­gest call­ing this a “no talk­ing time” as it will get very noisy with all the rustling of bags!)

Encour­age stu­dents not to look at their neigh­bors’ draw­ings while bags are being passed.… it’s more fun if they don’t know what item they’re get­ting next. They love to be surprised!

Try each of these dif­fer­ent meth­ods of con­tour draw­ing and watch your stu­dents leap to the next level in their abil­ity to notice details and “see like artists”!

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7 Responses to Touch” Contour Drawing

  1. Toni May 27, 2009 at 6:04 am #

    this sounds so fun and great for a tac­tile learner. Love your blog glad I found you;-)

  2. Snippety Gibbet May 27, 2009 at 6:07 pm #

    What a fas­ci­nat­ing idea. I’ve never seen this one before. jan

  3. Susan Bivona, Art Teacher May 28, 2009 at 2:18 am #

    WOW! Excel­lent idea! Just what I needed for the last few weeks of school. Thanks for shar­ing. Susan

  4. Faige June 1, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    I’m won­der­ing what is they youngest age you were able to do this with?

    I’ve taken an art class that teaches con­tour draw­ing and I am also a for­mer preschool teacher and direc­tor and was won­der­ing at what age kids can fol­low this activity.

  5. FotoMama June 5, 2009 at 11:27 pm #

    This com­ment has been removed by the author.

  6. FotoMama June 5, 2009 at 11:28 pm #

    I like this idea, I plan to use it.


  7. TeachKidsArt June 7, 2009 at 1:03 pm #

    I usu­ally do this activ­ity with grade 3 and up, but I think it could be really fun with younger kids if you just mod­ify it a little.

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