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“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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  1. 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.

  2. 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.