I teach drawing a lot. Every time I teach, one of my favorite parts of the class is when I do a blind contour exercise: students draw a subject while looking only at that subject, but NOT at their pen on the paper. It’s hard not to cheat. The exercise is a great equalizer — it’s the only time in the class when everyone, experienced and inexperienced, is on the same level. If you do it right, the result looks a bit like you drew it with your left foot — the lines wander off. The resulting blind contour drawings are not representations, they are artifacts of our attention.

I have been messing around with SERIES of blind contour drawings, starting by making one blind contour of a natural subject, then a blind contour of that blind contour, then a third blind contour of the second one, and so on. The errors in copying result in images that change incrementally, accidentally, and the series goes in unexpected directions. It’s such a relaxing process and I love that I can’t control it — it’s an antithesis to the painstakingly accurate process that scientific illustration requires.

I’m fascinated by emergence and complex systems — how small events lead to big changes. Emergence is everywhere: swarms, flocks, hives, cities, traffic, epidemics, evolution, the brain, the internet… the climate… I’m thinking this blind contour series thing is going to tie in with art that plays with ideas about emergence at some point…