Sunday, May 30, 2010

Surviving Nicolaides—suggestion #1

I see why people have either started the Nicolaides curriculum and stopped it soon after or haven't gotten far. The first two schedules of 15 hours are full of a tedious exercise—blind contour drawings. I have read elsewhere, however, that doing regular blind contour drawings is a genuinely helpful exercise in training one's eye-hand coordination. Now that I've completed about ten hours of blind contours, I can offer some suggestions on how to get through them without losing your mind.

First, choose an object with a lot of texture. For example, one of my favorite blind contour subjects is a crumpled paper bag. With all of those lines and folds, neither your eye nor your brain will become bored, at least not too quickly. Other options: a bumpy rock (I use a volcanic rock I found in Colorado), wilted lettuce, bones (I have a real cow's head a full-sized fake human skeleton. I like to use the foot and hand bones in particular), tree bark, your hand. Usually an organic object that has texture works best.

Second, keep in the back of your mind as you're drawing that—despite the seeming uselessness of this exercise—ultimately it will improve your drawing.

Just keep going!


  1. Hello Rochelle,

    I was looking online for opinions from people who have studied from this book when I found your blog. I wonder if you could tell me if you have ever finished it (you seem to have stuck with it for a while) and what are your thoughs on it?

    Thank you very much in advance if you ever find the time to answer this.

  2. Hi, Mafalda! I never did finish the entire Nicolaides curriculum. I don't remember how far I got but Exercise 14-The Daily Composition sounds familiar. I remember doing Exercise 13-The Modelled Drawing in Ink and thinking that the modelled drawing exercises were helpful in making me feel the weight of the object. I stopped the exercises most likely because they were interfering with my film or because I thought learning anatomy at that time was more important. I suggest you follow the exercises--PATIENTLY--and evaluate if they're improving how you see and draw. Then continue if it's truly helping. Best of luck and update me on your progress!