Local artist to create blind contour portraits as fundraiser for Steamboat Creates | SteamboatToday.com

Local artist to create blind contour portraits as fundraiser for Steamboat Creates

A blind contour drawing Gregory Block drew in 2014. Block will be at Harwigs in downtown Steamboat Springs during First Friday Artwalk to create more blind contour portraits to support Steamboat Creates.
Gregory Block/Courtesy

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — If you find yourself at Harwigs during First Friday Artwalk, be sure to make your way upstairs where artist Gregory Block will be creating blind contour portraits.

A blind contour portrait is where an artist studies a person’s face then traces a single line on paper, attempting to portray their subject without ever looking down at the drawing in front of them. Some take longer as the artist attempts to catch every unique feature, but others, like the ones that will be done on Friday, can be done in 30 seconds.

“My favorite part of blind contour drawing is the spontaneity and freedom that comes from not looking at the drawing,” Block said. “It’s always a fun surprise to see what results, and sometimes, the greatest surprise is that a single squiggly line can convey a personality more accurately than a belabored, conventional drawing that attempts to get each feature exactly right.”

Block, who graduated from Soroco High School in 2005, is an artist who never allowed himself to be “taught” how to be one. Instead, he’s lived by his own mantra’s ABC — Always Be Creative. This mindset is what led him to decide to return to blind contour drawings as a way to give back to the community he grew up in.

“We heard Gregory was doing this event at Harwigs and that there would be a beneficiary from the work. We approached him to ask if we might be considered as a beneficiary,” Dagny McKinley, development director for Steamboat Creates, said. “We thought the project made sense because the Depot Art Center was the first place Gregory showed his work as a child.”

Block will be offering 30-second, one-minute and two-minute sittings. He is requesting no fee, except for small donations to Steamboat Creates — $15 for 30 seconds, $25 for one minute and $40 for two. The pieces will hang in Harwigs until the end of July before returning to their subjects autographed by Block.

“So many people are convinced they’re not creative,” Block said. “Visual art, though, is all about seeing and making marks, and it really should be accessible to anyone. In blind contour drawing, you don’t look at the paper until the drawing’s complete, which means your head can’t get in the way and insert fear of failure or judgement into the equation.

“In this season of independence, I find it particularly reaffirming to realize that we each can liberate ourselves from perhaps our greatest oppressors, our own minds, if only we step back and accept the great mysteries that life presents,” Block added.

If you go

What: Blind Portraits with Gregory Block
When: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, July 5
Where: Harwigs, 911 Lincoln Ave.
Cost: Free; donations to Steamboat Creates suggested based on portrait time.
More information: facebook.com/events/369976733871668

Also on display will be two of Block’s original pieces “Self Portrait” and “Ma (as Pixie).” Both are oil paintings and available for purchase.

Block will be drawing blind contour portraits from 5 to 8 p.m. at Harwigs, 911 Lincoln Ave., as part of First Friday Artwalk on Friday, July 5.

To reach Mackenzie Hicks, call 970-871-4208, email mhicks@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @mackenzieshawna.


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