between illustrating and teaching art, i have collected a lot of fun drawing games. one of my family's favorites is the blind contour drawing. the rules for that one are simple: draw what you see but don't look at the drawing. the finished product usually looks like scribble-scrabble but it's fun to do. it frees the artist from any pressure to capture a likeness and it teaches people to draw slow and look carefully. my sister, lali, is the subject of this painting. she used to love blind contour drawings. i remember one evening especially when she ignored chocolate cake to turn napkin after napkin into rapid works of art. my grandma folded one of the drawings and kept it in her purse.

another fun game, if you have a partner with whom to play, is the artist's version of telephone. pin a piece of paper to the wall. one person (person 1) stands in front of the paper, ready to draw. the second person (person 2) stands behind her partner. person 2 uses her finger to draw on person 1's back. as she draws, person 1 does his best to translate that drawing onto the paper. most of these exercises teach people to care less about the finished drawing and more about the activity itself.

my favorite art game is the one-minute drawing. it's really easy. a friend with a stop watch gives the artist one minute to create a drawing. usually, the artist draws the same thing several times. once she's done five or six one-minute drawings, she gets five minutes to draw the same thing. the one-minute drawings teach you to see fast and draw fast. so, believe me, when you play this game correctly, five minutes feels like all the time in the world.

this painting began as a five-minute drawing. i liked it so much that i turned it into a painting. when it was nearly done, my brother offered his critique. "you captured her," he said, "it feels like her." i think it does too. i added our dog, suki, after the fact. she was drawn in one-minute.

© 2002 rama hughes