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Grade 7: Art with Cathy Naughton and Andrean Andrus

Have you ever tried to draw “blind?” Seventh grade artists gave it a go when they had a lesson in blind contour from art teachers Cathy Naughton and Andrean Andrus. Contour is a technique of drawing the outer edge or outline of an object; “Blind contour is when you look at something and study it really carefully and you draw it without looking at your paper,” says Ms. Naughton. The trick, she says, is don’t lift your pen!
The art lesson was inspired by Betty Edwards’ Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain, a widely-used instructional drawing book. “In seventh grade we do painting, printmaking, clay -- but everything starts with drawing,” explains Mrs. Andrus. 

After a demonstration by Ms. Naughton, round one had her students drawing their own hands with black Sharpie pens. Results ranged from comical to somewhat recognizable. “It takes a while to train your brain to let go and focus on this one thing,” Ms. Naughton told students.

For their second attempt, they selected an object from the eclectic collection in Ms. Naughton’s art room and were asked to study the items and observe the lines and creases. Stuffed animals, a lamp, a toy car, a paper clip chain ... the choices were as varied as the students. Again, artists finished their drawings, viewed the results, and broke out in grins and giggles. "It's hard not to look at what I'm doing," shares Edie Twarogowski.

The last exercise, Ms. Naughton’s favorite, was portraits. Students formed small groups to draw each other’s faces. As they focused their attention on their subjects, artists transferred the semblance of eyes, noses, faces and hair onto paper.

In a follow-up exercise, artists were asked to draw the same objects but not blind, and then compare the two versions.

“It’s a fun lesson to start the year,” says Mrs. Andrus. “They laugh a lot! Contour drawing really teaches them about seeing their subject -- noticing details -- and it develops their ability to draw from real life.”

Learn more about Ms. Naughton and Mrs. Andrus, both Master Teachers at Graland!

Graland Country Day School

Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.