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Thread: Gesture Drawing Issues
February 2nd, 2011 #1Trying to get better
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Gesture Drawing Issues
So, I've been getting back into drawing. Took an art class, bought a few books, that kind of thing. I've made progress, and gotten critiques on my pieces, all that good stuff. But there's one particular problem I'm having.
Gesture drawings. I can't do them quickly.
Every time I attempt to have one, I keep trying to rationalizing how things would fit, sketchily drawing the lines. I keep reading and getting the message that they should be quick and sweet, but I can only do slow and technical. And it frustrates me, making it hard for me to continue working on something when I feel like I'm not doing it right.
How do you get around trying to be overly technical with something that's supposed to be quick and painless?
Hide this ad by registering as a memberFebruary 2nd, 2011 #2Registered User
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A gesture drawing is a distillation of what's going on in the subject you're drawing from life.
It sounds simple, quick and easy, but it's one of the hardest techniques to master as it relies on responding to a subject as purely as possible, conveying the most with the each mark. Everyone's 5 minute gesture of a pose is going to look different, more advanced people will seem to put in tons of information while the novices only get in tidbits.
It doesn't have to be quick, but it needs to be delibrate. Scribbling wildly doesn't do any good, nor does rendering.
Speed comes with time, but the frustration makes it feel like there's little progress when there actually is.
February 2nd, 2011 #3
Practice - and imo gesture can ONLY be done quickly - 1 minute is a long gesture. And you're kidding yourself if you think it is painless...gesture is the most important thing to get right and maintain as a drawing progresses - that is why we practice just gestures sometimes - but every drawing should strive to capture gesture accurately.
February 2nd, 2011 #4
Work on mechanical, deliberate studies of proportion. Do that enough and you'll get the proportions right without thinking about and then you can focus just on the gesture instead of construction or other issues.
February 2nd, 2011 #5
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February 2nd, 2011 #6
As Elwell is implying - from life is the superior way to do figure studies, gestures or otherwise.
However, if you don't have this option, it's very useful to get a slideshow going where you can vary speeds - it forces your hand and brain to literally just throw caution and precision to the wind. I just started doing Irfanviewer slideshows the other night and they're magical. I started at 5 seconds just to see what would happen, then incrementally increased the time as I felt necessary. I think I'm working at 24 sec right now and just about getting to the arms and legs.
Another thing that really helped me reign in my gestures and get more out of them was drawing without lifting my pen/pencil from the page. I couldn't tell you exactly why, but that kind of reset something in my head regarding perspective and the way I was translating what I was seeing onto the page.
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February 2nd, 2011 #7Jester
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And yes, a good gesture may be beautiful, especially when it is done efficiently, but don't aim for sweet. Get down the directions of spine, hips, shoulders, head and limbs, plant the feet asap, and emphasize weight, tension, whatever makes the pose. Like your lecture notes, nobody may be able to read them, except you.
February 2nd, 2011 #8
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February 3rd, 2011 #9Registered User
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Learning anatomy helps loads with gestures--it allows you to understand what you are seeing way faster and put down the correct marks. When I first ever did life drawing gestures I would basically do a crappy contour drawing without any real understanding and it looked terrible. Now that I understand anatomy better I can interpret the forms quickly and put down the necessary info better. I'm still not that great, but I am a hundred times better than before.
Also take a look at Dark_Eyes' sketchbook:
Very good stuff and very good info. Here is what he has to say on gestures:
As far as tips for gestures, my best advice would be to try a few hundred pages of them and see what happens! Other than that, i would consider the following:
-Spend more time looking at the model than your own drawing.
-Remember your principles of composition, REVERB-CU, rhythm, emphasis, variety, ecology, repetition, balance, continuity and unity. (at least i think every gesture is like a mini composition by itself.)
-There is no correct procedure. Every time is different, sometimes i start with center lines, sometimes i start with big shapes, sometimes contour, sometimes mass tone. Go with what the pose tells you.
-It's OK to exagerate and/or simplify.
-Look at gestures from the masters for inspiration.
-Don't be afraid to fail big. (I owe that one to the great George Pratt!)
If art had a unified field theory, i think gestures would be like quantum mechanics...all the rules about what things are supposed to look like break down, yet within those first couple lines, the entire power of an image is born and unleashed like an atomic blast! I see now why they are so important in learning how to draw. Gestures teach the brain/body the immediacy of mark making. Hope that helps!
Lastly I would like to leave you with a useful link if you don't have access to a model:
"Complacency is the womb of mediocrity. " -- Jason Manley
"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them." -- Bruce Lee
February 3rd, 2011 #10
February 3rd, 2011 #11
February 3rd, 2011 #12Registered User
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Vilppu's video on gesture drawing really helped me out. I was really frustrated with them before watching that video. Try getting it if you can.