Blind Contour Drawing

Blind Contour Drawing

I regularly use the blind drawing technique as a warm-up exercise to get a feeling for the objects I am studying.  When I first started using the practice, I carried a small pocket size sketchbook with me and took every opportunity to make quick studies. Very quickly I noticed an improvement in my observational skills.  Give it a try!

The aim is to draw an object without looking at the paper; you must resist RESIST.

A few tips:

1. Use a continuous line, keep your pen or pencil on the paper.

2. Don't peek; you'll only be cheating yourself.

3. Focus on the outline of the objects and move your eye around, translate this onto the paper as though you are tracing the shape with your eyes, and the pencil is touching the outline.

4. Move your pen or pencil in a steady movement resist the urge to draw too quickly.

5. Don't be afraid to run off the paper.



Travel Sketchbook

On a visit to Madrid, I made sure to keep up my blind contour drawing practice. It made a great travel souvenir.

Why bother Blind Contour Drawin?

By looking at your objects, you will learn to really look, as an artist that's pretty important skill to master. Being able to concentrate on what you are seeing is important, by practising regularly you will improve this skill, and your art will show vast improvements.  The key is to keep this practice up, every drawing I do I start with a contour study. Sometimes I love these expressive studies more than the final piece.

My love of Blue

Blue is my go to colour, I love it.  I have tried my hardest to work with other colours but I always have the pull back to my favourite inky deep blues and teals.  


I am travelling back and forth between Abu Dhabi and the UK. My main studio is in Abu Dhabi, so as well as a small travel kit with watercolours, pens and a small sketchbook, I have a reasonable duplicate art kit in the UK.  I have a few paper pads, my favourite colour paints and a travel sized pack of lino cutters.  Plenty to keep me busy.  Well, most of my colours are, yes you guessed blue.  This is my excuse for doing so much blue work when I'm visiting my family back in the UK, LOL.


i love blue.jpg

Caribbean Inspiration

I'm just about to celebrate my 11th wedding anniversary. All those years ago we tied the knott amongst the beautiful foliage and brilliant blue skies of Ocho Rios in Jamiaca.

When ever I think back to that day I'm reminded of soft sadny beaches, the smell of tropical flowers, the warmth of the sun and beautiful scenery.  Completly inspired by the sights and smells I set out to create a series of abstract paintings to celebrate my time in Jamaica.



Work in progress

I choose to use bright hues of pink, teal and lime green. I couldn't resist throwing in a hint of gold.

I may have been a little carried away and ended up making a huge pile of abstracts. Once I started I kept making more and more.  I totally fell in love with the colours together.  The combination of teal and pink work so well, and I was surprised when I added the lime green how much it worked to create a vibrant cohesive look. It's a far cry from my go to blue and gold combo.  


I really feel that glorious sense of Jamaica when I look at the paintings, I'm reminded of walking along the beach the sand between my toes and the scent of magnolia on the breeze.

Spurred on by the glorious colours I have started to upload the paintings to several print on demand stores including Redbubble, Society 6 and The art of where.  The colourful paintings look so good on the products but particularly the cushions and yoga pants are among my favourites.


Abstract Teal Wallart

Spring is on its way and although the cold weather seems to be putting up a fight there are signs of warmer weather on the way, on a walk out I saw tiny snow drops and daffodils emerging.  As the days become lighter I like to add a splash of colour to life, and blue is one of my favourite colours. I use a lot of blues and golds in my abstract works, and I think they would give fresh look to any gallery wall.

This piece is available as a digital download in my Etsy store instantly. Simply download to your computer, print and go make a coffe while you wait for it to do it's thing.  I love the blue and green colours. I have been adding a lot of geometric details to my watercolour pieces lately, I always seem to get drawn into lines and dots.  Not sure why but I love these little gold additions. 

So, just grab the printable set here, and get to printing! Show off your pics by tagging me with #dawnyoungart on social media I would love to see how my art looks on your wall. And don’t forget to share and pin to show the love x

Lovely bones

I love bones, they have great texture, very interesting shapes and are a total dream to study. A recent walk along the beach and I found some interesting bones, a funky stone and shells, I used these as a starting point for some still life.


I always start with playing around with photography, I try different layouts, a different perspective and focal point.  There are lots of different textures to explore, the smooth stones and pitted surface of the bones, lots going on.

I started with some blind contour drawing, looking at the outlines of the bones.  While not looking at the paper I drew the shapes of the bones, I use this technique to make me really look at the objects.  I don't expect the drawings to be perfect, it's a warm-up exercise.  After doing several blind sketches I moved on to collage, using pencil, graphite paper and torn pieces of masking tape I looked a little closer at shape and texture.

This was an A3 study, it doesn't all work for me but there are some nice textural areas I pleased with.

This was an A3 study, it doesn't all work for me but there are some nice textural areas I pleased with.

When I returned to my art practice I had to get back into the habit of just playing around.  Sometimes these little experiments result in interesting discoveries and move my art forward and expand my techniques.  I now have folders of sketches and little sketchbooks filled with drawings and doodles, some are good, most are terrible.  I have gotton over the fear of making everything perfect but it didnt come easilly. A lot of the quick studies turn out far more interesting and exciting than my final pieces.



Drawing primarily using line, not much tone.

Drawing just using line, is really quite difficult but it helps to make you appreciate the forms you are drawing.  For this study piece, I couldn't help myself but add some charcoal tone, just a smidge.  Always room for improvement and one day I might actually master just a simple line drawing without any added extras.

This is a great book I use to give me some ideas on ways to practice my drawing, it covers contour drawing, using grids, different materials and loads of other really great tutorials for expanding your art practice.  This was one of the suggested books for my fine art degree and although I didn't find it visually amazing or inspiring to look at inside, what it lacks in that department it makes up for with the tutorials. They are a gold mine for improving your art, you just have to read them.  I totally recommend finding a copy, visit your local library or you can find it on Amazon, its where I get the majority of my books.  I usually opt for second hand as they are a fraction of the cost.  For some reason art books can be astronomical in cost! 

GIN, and drawing

Gin seems to be the drink of the moment, but my hubby and I have been fans of the stuff for years.  An inspiration for a still life came when I was watching my husband prepare the lime for our weekend tipple.  I have an assignment for uni to draw some still lifes so after taking some photos, drew some quick sketches of different compositions I set of to do a monochromatic still life.  Heck, I thought it was a genius idea.



Doesn't look very exciting but I'm trying to get into the habit of trying to draw different things.  Like everything in the life the more you practice the better you get....unless your drinking gin at the same time lol.  In recent months I really have seen some great progress and for anyone who thinks they cant draw, you really can you just have to take the opportunity to spend a few minutes sketching when you have a chance, it's like your muscles remember what to do.

Here are some process pics, I used different media, pencils, paint on acetate and ended up optin for oil pastels for my uni piece.  I have to be honest I gave up with the pencils, I had a cheap set with just a few shades of blue and it was taking an absolute age to finish so I ended up abandoning that piece.  

Not a bad effort.  I will return to the half-finished pencil drawing when I get my hands on some nice pencils, I think the detail I can get with them will make a great study.  The moral of this is Gin is good for my creativity hahahahaha


Linocut Skull

My linocut skull.  There is something about bones that I find interesting, I don't really know what it is but they are a source of fascination.  This linocut skull is one of my very early linicuts.  I purchased some really nice Pfeil linocut tools and this was the first piece using them.  The tools worked like a dream through the soft lino and I was able to get some nice thin marks. 


I tend to draw a design on paper first and then transfer the image to the lino, I prefer to see my drawing on white paper and get a sense of how it will look.  Maybe if I had more confidence in my drawing skill I would, but I faff with the image so much to start off with. A permanent pen to go over the transferred image and I'm all set to start carving.


Nearly done a few fine details to apply and this bad boy is ready for printing. I could have taken some more time but I was loving using the new tools. I carved a few unwanted areas but on the whole its starting to come together nicely.


A few variations, loving the bright blue.  For some reason the camera distorted the lime green print, it has a bit of a two tone thing going on, very odd.  I made a small edition of black prints then I destroyed the plate by experimenting with a reduction print, I didn't like the result which is a shame, but I have this set which I am more than happy with.   


Sea Urchin Prints

I live in a town called Ruwais in one of the far corners of Abu Dhabi, it takes about 2 and half hours to get close to any good art supplies so I have learnt to make do with what I can find on occasions when inspiration hits and I'm running out of materials.

I’m currently working on the fashion part of my course and part of it is to come up with a non-repeating print.  The whole project is based on the beach, so I wanted to make a simple print of a sea urchin I found.  With a lack of supplies I had to use the styrofoam method for printing, I have used this technique before its inexpensive but you can get some fab results.  The prints you get are never going to be as crisp as using lino but you do get some really interesting textures.  


This was the first print pulled, it's always exciting the moment when you reveal the image, I don’t think I will ever tire of the anticipation.

I have been looking at the work of Alexander McQueen and really liked the use of prints in his work.  He uses a digital process and then manages to tailor the garment in a way that the pattern looks symmetrical, reflected and very precise.  It gives the finished garment a very mechanical, other worldly feel.  I used this as a starting point for the background of that print, i simply recreated the types of prints you make as a child where you fold a piece of paper in half.  I think it works quite nicely, I also like that the urchin printed on top isn’t central.


I was enjoying the printing so I went ahead and made a couple more smaller printing plates, it is such a quick process.  The downside is that eventually the styrofoam starts to flatten and you lose your nice crisp lines, but the worn out print below has its charm.


I scanned some of the prints and had a play with using my new electronic drawing board, I have a lot to learn but I did somehow manage to lose a few hours just tinkering around. I wanted to completely change the look and get a more geometric print so I used one of the less successful prints and went at it with a pair of scissors.  If I were to have another try at this I would use a different backing paper and possibly combined another print in a different set of colours to contrast the first set.  There is also the possibility of using different shapes combined together.  This has the potential to be a project in its own right, not only just for printed fabric but possibly baking papers, gift wrap and wallpaper designs.


Green Door Print Exchange 2016

As you probably can tell I love printmaking, it is a medium I hadn’t expected to love so much.  I a member of a few Facebook groups and following some amazing print artists on Instagram. I’m in total awe with the details some artists achieve with their prints.  I started off small, from humble printing beginnings with just polystyrene plates and acrylic paints now with a nice collection of tools and lino I have upgraded.  I still feel like a newcomer to the medium, there is so much to learn and discoverer. I decided I wanted to put some of my prints out into the big wide world and joined a print exchange.

After a bit of self-doubt, I decided at some point everyone is a total novice and without showing what you’re doing you’ll never improve. The other appeal for me to do the print exchange is so I get a piece of art from 8 other people.  I am really excited to own someone else work and lucky for me I should be back in the UK when the exchange prints are sent out.

print exchange wip.jpg

My initial plan was to send my previous skull linocut and do a simple reduction print.  Sadly the print was too big to meet the criteria for the print exchange.  The printed image is to be a maximum of 10cm x 10cm, this was the first challenge for me as I had wanted to make something with lots of detail but in the end with the confines of the 10cm I opted for something more abstract.

I have been looking at coral as part of my research for my pathway stage of my fine art project, this seemed an ideal way to combine something for fun and work towards my coursework. I chose a copyright image from Flikr of close up detail of coral. I selected a small section of the coral enlarged the image to make a simple abstract.

I chose just to do a simple two colour reduction, the paint I was using was a printing ink and the paper was an archival safe watercolour paper.  I had some issues with the thickness of the paint if I applied a thin layer as I had intended the paper adhered to my lino and ripped as I tried to pull a print.  I tried dampening the paper but that just resulted in a runny print.  In the end, I had to compromise and apply a thicker layer of paint to my lino. 

print excahnge.jpg

These are the final editions all ready to be signed.  In total, I produced about 25 prints which gave me a few to choose from to enter into the print exchange.

If you missed this year's entry you will have further opportunities to enter each year they host a new exchange   It cost £15 to join and that covers the postage when they send you your return prints.