Contour Line Drawing: A Lesson in Concentration and Creativity

Mr. Hanna's Middle School Art Class - Contour Line Drawings

In the realm of art education, there are moments when a straightforward classroom exercise transcends its immediate purpose and imparts a broader life lesson. At the core of Mr. Hanna's Middle School art class lies the concept of "contour line drawing." What may initially appear as a simple, continuous line on paper is, in fact, a discipline that demands unwavering concentration, where artists must establish multiple connections. This exercise fosters both a visual connection between the artist and the subject and a physical connection between the pen and paper. It encourages meticulous observation and a commitment to capturing intricate details, all with the understanding that perfection may not always be the ultimate goal.

Mr. Hanna has always believed that drawing extends beyond the classroom and the art studio, serving as a foundation for lifelong transferable skills. As students refine their ability to concentrate, focus, and observe, they simultaneously cultivate skills that will benefit them in various facets of their lives. This includes the capacity to communicate one's vision effectively and creatively while adapting to various forms of expression, where the end goal is not necessarily perfection.

In his initial class, Mr. Hanna didn't merely provide instruction on the technicalities of contour line drawing; he led by example, transforming a seemingly ordinary sneaker into a work of art. His sneakers became a canvas as he demonstrated the meticulous planning that precedes the stroke of a Sharpie. His keen eye navigated the lines of the shoe, from laces to lettering, and every intricate detail in between. With each stroke, Mr. Hanna made the beauty lying in the details visible.

The young artists returned to their tables, prepared to embark on their unique artistic journeys, this time using plants as their subjects. As they set pen to paper and began to sketch, they carried with them not only the technical knowledge of contour line drawing but also a newfound appreciation for the art of observation, patience, and creative expression. What had initially seemed like a simple exercise transformed into an exploration of the mind and the world it perceives. It served as a poignant reminder that art isn't merely about what we see; it's about how we see it and the stories we can convey through the lines we draw.
The Shipley School is a private, coeducational day school for pre-kindergarten through 12th grade students, located in Bryn Mawr, PA. Through our commitment to educational excellence, we develop within each student a love of learning and a desire for compassionate participation in the world.