Day 1 – Blind contour drawing portrait with a marker pen – old

Day 1 - Blind contour drawing portrait with a marker pen

Day 1 – Blind contour drawing portrait with a marker pen

100 Portraits of Ava by Karen

Find out why I chose to start my 100 Days Project Scotland with a blind contour drawing portrait.


Eager to get started on my 100 Days Project, I chose to use a technique that is sometimes used by artists as a warming up exercise, known as blind contour drawing.

I didn’t make the connection at time of creating this first portrait, but my inspiration for using this technique came from at least two different sources.

The most recent inspiration was from looking at the Instagram posts of Austin Kleon, who had been doing a series of drawing blind self portraits at the time that the 100 Days Project Scotland had started.

Another source of inspiration was a Creative Mornings Edinburgh event: Muse with Topaz Pauls in September 2019, that I’d attended. The audience was encouraged to get into pairs and have a go at drawing a blind contour portrait of the other person. I recall having to suppress my nerves at the event and not worry about the result. To make sure that we didn’t look at our drawings as our pencils moved across the large white cartridge paper, we had another piece of paper over our hands to obscure the view. I didn’t keep the outcome of this exercise, but remember that I found drawing glasses a bit tricky.

At home, instead of nerves, I had the luxury of being able to start again and again, until I was a bit more satisfied with the result. Rather than obscuring the drawing with a piece of paper, I looked at the reference photo to my left and drew the blind contour drawing portrait on my right, without looking away from the reference photo. I ended up drawing eight portraits blind, all with slightly different results and each with a different coloured Sharpie marker pen, simply because changing colour helped to make the process even more fun!

I chose to use white cartridge paper in A5 or A6 for the first seven practise drawings, but switched to an A6 white watercolour postcard for the final, eighth blind contour drawing portrait.

Seven rejected blind contour drawing portraits

I feel that starting with a simple exercise for my first portrait, without fear of the outcome, was good for initially building my confidence.

Day 1 – Blind contour drawing portrait with a marker pen

Although, I didn’t return to this technique during my 100 Days Project, I would certainly do it again, whenever I get a bit stuck, need to loosen up and just have a bit of fun!


This page was last updated by Karen on Wednesday, 6 January 2021