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.

6 comments:

Mac McRae said...

Blankenstine's Former Students - rules.
I wish my instructors were as cool as you are. The writing and interaction is excellent. My right brain has wasted away over the years - I can barely keep up with the banter. You are a great teacher. And that is a tough job. Great info on the gesture drawing too.

Ellis Nadler said...

i'm currently working my way through the Nicolaides book

HARDWAX said...

Your lucky students, and a beautiful lobster!

Brine Blank said...

Err...that's a scorpion...remind me not to take you out for seafood...but thanks for the kind compliments...

Anonymous said...

Great post! Very articulate. Thank you,
Janey D'oh

Yve said...

I just happened to come upon your blog by chance and it's truly inspired me like no other. I had forgotten the importance and freedom of gesture drawing. (Of course, I was one of those students that couldn't grasp the idea or technique in college). Thanks so much for helping me reconnect.