Let’s Make Perfectly Imperfect Art


Dear Wonderful, Creative You:

In my Diving Deep class, we focus on learning to dance between intuition and technical skill. The skill we have been focusing on this week, blind and semi-blind contour drawing, is one that can really call up the inner critic. Blind contour drawing also offers tons of opportunity for self-reflection, surrender, mindful attention, gorgeous attention to detail, and the development of your intuitive, personal style. As a teacher, I dance between guiding students in technical skills, while also helping them to hear their own inner wisdom about what each art piece needs. Above all, I’m encouraging us all to be on a journey of making perfectly imperfect art. The magic is in the imperfections.

As with anything, folks come to class with a range of experience and comfort level with the techniques. One of the things I offer in addition to the live videos is to continue practicing and posting the techniques myself. I try to offer a mix of inspiring images, and images that show my mistakes, and how to dance with them.

Here’s a good example: I tend to do blind contour drawings in a very slow, detail-oriented way. I almost never do completely blind contours, unless it’s for an exercise. I enjoy semi-blind drawing where I peek at my paper a little. I also take my time and don’t go too quickly. One of my students shared a video of artist, Phil Hansen, doing blind portraits of people in 1.5 minutes. I thought this sounded like a fun challenge.

I decided to use a picture of my brother as a child and do 3 drawings this way. As you can see, there’s not much recognizable here at first glance. However, look more. See if you can find some details of accuracy, even in the distortion. See if you can find playful creatures in these drawings. They are really quite fun, actually.

imperfect art, blind contour

One of the things I love about teaching live classes online is that it pushes me too. I had this rich background, and while looking at ostriches in National Geographic one evening, I had the idea to put an ostrich face staring at the viewer on this page.

art journal background, perfectly imperfect art

I went to our friend, Google Images, to find the right expression on the right bird. I found it and here’s my semi-blind contour drawing of her:

Now, I don’t have rights to the picture, so I can’t share, but I can tell you that I’ve changed several details on this model. The biggest difference is the right side. The mouth and the eye got smushed up because I made some “mistakes.” However, thank goodness I do blind drawings in pen and could not erase, because that mistake made the sassy expression that is the magic of this bird.

imperfect art, blind contour drawing

The right side nostril was also drawn in the wrong spot, so I gave myself permission to adjust that when I painted her in.

How to draw a blind contour, blind contour drawing, perfectly imperfect art

Meet Jeanine the Ostrich. “Whatchoo lookin’ at?”


Let’s get busy making some mistakes.

Oh and speaking of embracing imperfect art, I’ll be co-hosting a super cool workshop this coming Wednesday, May 9th at 12pm EST on a private webinar page. Lauren Hooper, of Lauren-Likes and Get Messy Art Journaling and I will be talking about Travel Journaling. We want to help you take your journal everywhere. This is the secret to finding time to make art – you carry it with you! We will be sharing all our best tips, prompts, and how to get over the fear of creating in public.

You can register by joining Lauren’s list right here: JOIN THE TRAVEL JOURNALING WEBINAR!

I hope to see you there!


Creatively Yours,



  1. JeanineA

    Love your ostrich. Wednesday at noon I will should be in the car traveling home so I won’t see you live. I will be watching the replay.


    • Amy Johnson Maricle

      Hi Jeanine:

      I’m so glad you will catch the replay! Of course I thought of you when Jeanine the ostrich told me her name. She has pizazz. Happy travel journaling in the car!
      XO Amy


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