Saturday, February 03, 2007
Gesture This...Part One
One of the most helpful...and unfortunately most overlooked...of all drawing skills is gesture drawing. Young artists tend to get stuck in contour drawing mode and their work tends to be disproportionate as well as 'stiff'. Breaking items down into shapes lightly is a big breakthrough and helps their work to improve. But one of the greatest tools is the gesture drawing. Quick linework attempting to capture the 'essence' of the item being drawn, with its 'mass', form, and gesture can help keep drawings from being stiff as well as helping to keep things in proportion. It can also help to work out 'visual problems' such as items receding in space.
There tends to be a mental block for some reason with students of all ages with gesture drawing. The idea is to have a direct 'connection' from the eye to the hand without 'thinking'...our eyes tend to 'study' objects in what seems like a random roaming pattern...bouncing all over...as opposed to in a top to bottom 'scanner' approach. As our eyes move our hand moves across the mass of the object. But once this method clicks with the artist it becomes and art form all in itself.
After getting the initial gesture down using a H pencil, the artist can begin to add detail and make corrections with a softer graphite. The gesture will then start to fade to the back and the drawing will have more of a life. As the renderer gets more adept at the skill, they will find out that when using reference pictures that the scale proportion will be pretty accurate. And when no reference picture is used, a mental image can be captured on the page that has action and is not so 'static'.
A good way to practice gesture drawing in the beginning is to take a magazine or print a variety of pictures and do multiple gesture drawings. Remember, quick and spontaneous with the eye 'bypassing' the brain and flowing through the arm to the pencil is the key.