Sunday, November 17, 2013

Figure Drawing: Gesture Demos

Here's a sample of a sketch done as a demo for the figure drawing portion of the Summer Session course during the final week of classes. We were exceptionally fortunate to have an excellent & experienced model for several days of three-hour sessions. I always love this part of the schedule as apart from routine patrols of corrective and constructive criticism, and the occasional call for assistance on a particular problem (usually hands, feet or faces), the students are on autopilot and I can sneak over to an empty easel for a few quick ones.

Warming up with gestures is such a mental relief... and a physical change of perspective & pace to the usual small and tightly controlled pen & ink pieces and panels I do. It's an occasion to put the principle into practice of art being a verb than a noun: the pure process of creating on an instinctual and reflexive level. There is also an immersive, rhythmic quality to the passage of time, as cranking out a quick series of 1-minute gestures serves not only to sharpen perception, tighten the link between vision + expression (from the eye to the point of a pencil), and loosen up linework: but the subsequent shift into 5-minute poses is a sublime expansion of non-linear space + time, where one has all the time in the world left to explore and experience the act of creation. And then to get completely lost within a 20-minute pose... can one imagine what it'd be like to maintain that over hours, days - even an entire life?

That visual dance between hand and eye coordination that bypasses the critical brain is like water to the roots of drawing. Unfettered artistic activity is a pure joy and is so satisfying as opposed to when one is hyper-aware of an audience's perceptions and interpretations, or being shadowed by an editor or client that has a vested interest in influencing the outcome of a piece. The best case scenario is brought about by having multiple avenues of exploration open to you as an artist: put as many different irons as possible in as many different fires as you can... start your own fires, let them burn out of control and use the ashes for charcoal... and start drawing again.

More figure works here in the Drawing Portfolio


  1. Hey! No hands or feet! :-D

    One of my few moments of glory in a figure drawing class came when the instructor and at least one other member of the faculty were grooving on the way I had drawn the model's foot. Faces were reason I leaned toward cartooning. And a reason I try to avoid drawing my friends or people I want to like me.

  2. Heh - well, take a peek at the portfolio and it's obvious I don't have a problem with hands or feet (though the models might beg to differ)... portraits either (though it helps if they're politicians, as like you, wanting them to like me might be an issue) (might be mutual too).
    Part of the reason I dig gestures is trying to imply the action, distill the motion into the fewest of lines - and that's where the link with cartooning comes into play. But, like an Alaskan winter, the extremities are the first to go...