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A line that defines the edges of things

Updated: Nov 18, 2023

On Monday in Advanced Studio on Zoom ART YARD Artist Ajani Russell presented a challenging and engaging session entitled Technical Studies – Contour Line Drawings.

Ajani asked us to bring to the session an complex 3/D object with at least five sides. We held our objects which included stuffed toys, sculptures, and other items from around the house.

Ajani then went over the nuanced concept of contour drawing:

  • A contour is a line that defines the edges of things. Like the outline of a figure, or the edges of clothing, shapes, etc.

  • Continuous contour- using one continuous line to draw an image.

  • Blind contour- a contour line drawing created by the artist not looking at the paper

  • Partially blind contour- a contour line drawing created where the artist looks at the paper sparingly but does not focus on the paper.

  • Cross contour- a method of drawing that creates the illusion of 3D form. These drawings outline and highlight the figurative shape of an object or objects with line rather than shading.

After that first fast 5 minute contour drawing, Ajani shared samples of contour drawings by Picasso and their own work. We all loved Picasso’s pig drawing!!

Contour drawings by Pablo Picasso and Ajani Russell

We moved on to a fast blind contour, a long blind contour (phew, that was a challenge!) and finally a long cross contour drawing.

Maraya made a connection to the idea of slowing down she presented recently.

Maraya Lopez, Contour drawings, Ring l, ll & lV, and dead flower arrangement III

Jane found that making many versions helped with her inability to slow down quite that much.

Jane Huntington, Contour drawings, Cat Sculpture

Abriel’s plush toy looked cuddly in every version! And her extra guitar piece called to mind the many guitars which came up in Karla’s recent class.

Abriel Gardener, Contour drawings, Plush Toy l, ll, lll, lV

Abriel Gardener, Bonus Contour drawing, Guitar

Ed’s drawings of a Bart Simpson doll are exceptional. Take a look at the long blind contour of Reclining Bart (#3)!! Ahahahahahahahhahah..... just wonderful!

Marilyn’s blind contour (bottom left) was compared to Picasso’s Pig (above)!

Marilyn August, Blind Contour drawings, Bird Statuette

Abby had a break through – with, in her opinion, her first-ever successful contour drawings.

Abby Johnson, Blind Contour drawings, Forever Flower Arrangement

I (Meridith) had to compliment the group for putting up with my frustrated running commentary on the long blind contour!

Meridith McNeal, Blind Contour drawings, Round Box with Bells

Ajani’s decorative elements went beyond the edge of their object in a way that made for an excellent drawing.

Ajani Russell, Blind Contour drawings, Mug

Karla’s fish works well in all manifestations and served to inspire her to delve more into drawing during her studio time!

Karla Prickett, Blind Contour drawings, Fish Sculpture

We loved this session!


You might recall a few weeks ago ART YARD Artist Maraya Lopez led an Advanced Studio session “Unravel complexities through the mundane and look at the wallpaper more.” As an extension of the session Maraya assigned us teams to continue a dialog on “how can we spend more time with these moments, give them more importance and more time to be open and vulnerable with ourselves? In doing so, maybe we could start to unravel the complexities of life by spending more time looking inward, then outward.”

Marilyn, Karla and Meridith connect with the wallpaper, so to speak.

Karla shares “a few words re our quartet meeting! Maraya, Meridith, Marilyn, and I met in a “follow up” to Maraya’s prior class assigning partners to encourage one another to set and complete goals we each wish to accomplish. It made for great conversation, lots of laughter and encouragement as we identified tasks and goals to accomplish by another meeting next week! Thanks Maraya for your “support” initiative!”


On Tuesday with several cases of covid, one case of shin splints and a 4 hour customer service text with the AYB web domain & email provider (my own plight), Dakota and I made the decision to postpone this weeks Advanced Studio in person session.

That means next week Tuesday November 21st will be the inaugural session of Dakota Jones in the role of ART YARD Teaching Artist as we explore still life drawing and painting. Dakota is an exceptional observational artist. I hope you all arrange your scheduled to support Dakota on his first foray as an ART YARD Teaching Artist!

I anticipate this will be another not-to-be-missed cycle of Advanced Studio!

Dakota drawing over the years


This fall semester in Advanced Studio in Person we have been concentrating on core art making skills to insure those of us working on portfolios for high school, college or graduate school applications have pieces which fulfill portfolio requirements. As application deadlines loom closer, ART YARD Artist Delphine Levenson I met at my studio to photograph, organize and strategize her artwork for the best possible portfolio presentation.

Delphine at work on her portfolio in Meridith's studio


Other Art News

The Film, The Disappearance of Shere Hite, will be premiering on November 9th at IFC Theater (6th Avenue at West 4th Street) in NYC. Public showings will begin November 17th at that location. ART YARD Artist Ed Rath appears in the film! Ajani, Ed and I plan on attending November 18th at 3:55! You can get tickets on the IFC website and join us.


Managing Director Dennis Buonagura shares: “I had a wonderful friend named Tom Cherico who'd always tell people "I'm originally from Margate, NJ; the home of Lucy the Elephant". He got lots of strange looks and eye rolls. Tom passed away in 2010 and I've been meaning to visit Lucy ever since. I finally got there last week. Tom would have been very happy to know this.

Lucy The Elephant. Photo by Dennis Buonagura

She's big and beautiful and looks out onto the Atlantic Ocean. Born in 1881 and originally named Elephant Bazaar (she was renamed Lucy by her new owners in 1902), she's been a private residence, recently an Airbnb, a brothel, and a nightclub. She was moved 8 blocks to her current location several years ago - and offers great tours to students on school trips. She even has a paint by number kit (yup - people still love them!) available to buy in the gift shop.

Photos of Lucy The Elephant by Dennis Buonagura

She had a much larger sister in Coney Island who died in a fire in 1896. Luna Park was built on her site.

Lucy’s a landmark and recently went through a major restoration. Her toenails are repainted quite often. She might seem like a B list celebrity to a fussy New Yorker but she's an A lister to any southern New Jersey-ite. This New Yorker is now a "Lucy The A List Celebrity" convert.

The tour (which started up a narrow spiral staircase) was informative and we got to see Lucy's original tongue on exhibit. They even allowed Olive to join us … as long as she stayed in her little bag.

Dennis and Olive visiting Lucy

I love Lucy.”


Congratulations to ART YARD Artist Candy Heiland who has work included in a group show at Upfront Exhibition Space in Port Jervis, NY through December.



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