Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Embroidering Blind Contour Drawings: The Sister Shirt

Blind contour drawings

Blind contour drawings are a fun, relaxing art exercise that supposedly improve your observation skills and hand-eye coordination. They can also make for some hilarious sessions with fellow artists. We've done several rounds of blind contour drawings on Zoom over the past few years since my sister and I formed a weekly maker group with her granddaughters during the pandemic. 

In our sessions, each of us chooses another person on the Zoom screen without telling anyone who we've chosen. We then start our drawing with the following rules: Don't lift your pen off the paper from start to finish; don't look down at what you are doing, just keep your eyes on the screen. After a set time period (about two minutes) we each show our drawings and the others guess the identity of the portrait subject.

The sister shirt (front)

During a gloomy interlude this winter featuring dark skies, damp chill, and atmospheric rivers, I searched through my closet for likely upcycling candidates and found this bright green linen thrift store find. Originally a long and frankly blah tunic with no pockets, the shirt was first transformed by cutting off a sizable portion of the bottom and converting those scraps into generous pockets. Vintage buttons from my collection embellished the piece.

Vintage buttons

Shirt back

The next step was to get my sometimes-hopelessly-spaced-out grandnieces and sister to send me their blind contour drawings. Once in hand I sorted through, picked out four, and transferred the drawings onto the shirt using carbon paper. The final step was stitching over the transferred drawings, adding "tethers" that extend to the bottom of the shirt so the heads look life floating balloons.

Blind drawing of Aleida by Nana

Blind drawing of Cici by Nana

Blind drawing of me by Nana

Blind drawing of Nana by Nana

You will note that all of the blind drawings used for the shirt were by the artist known as "Nana," my sister Judy, who has firmly and repeatedly identified herself as a non-artist. Blind contour drawing eliminates judgments and labels and allows everyone, no matter how they identify, to have big time fun. Nana's drawings were selected for this project because they simply suited the design best. The shirt is called the Sister Shirt because it depicts two sets of sisters, two generations apart.

A fun project from beginning to end.

1 comment:

  1. I learned about blind colour drawing from Betty Edwards 'Drawing on the right side of the brain' but haven't done any in years. It lends itself to embroidery really well.


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