Wednesday, August 17, 2016

The "how to" of a Gesture drawing

It sometimes seems that the more explanation given to gesture, the more diluted the practical side gets. Expressive mark making, the importance of privileging artistic subjectivity, telling a story, capturing exaggeration, etc., not to mention the myriad of divergent approaches make pinpointing a "how to" problematic or discouraged. 

While the above qualities matter and are important, I have always concerned myself first (especially when teaching) with stripped down practical mechanics. Once comfortable,these later can be built up, tweaked, or turned upside down in the pursuit of a personalized style by a student/artist. In that spirit (and after realizing that this is largely missing in my own book) I included a brief description of my step by step process for gesture as well as notes to follow these lines clearly. See if you can follow my list below in looking at the examples. Keep in mind that all of these lines are abstract (so not directly referential like contour), on the inside, and are primarily devoted to creating a rhythmic armature for the figure. 

Step by step list

1. Start with a round sphere for the head.
2. Draw the asymmetrical movements of the spine in 3-4 lines. Lines should loosely represent 1. the cervical section (neck), 2. thoracic section (rib cage), 3. an imagined line for the abdomen (curve of the front), and 4. the lumbar section (lower back).
3. From the line of the lumbar create a curve for the hip on the weight bearing side. 
4. Describe the gesture of the legs in 3 lines - one for the femur, the knee, and the lower leg. The leg can also be drawn in 1 or 2 lines depending on the degree of simplicity you desire.
5. Describe the supporting leg with the same considerations. Tip - sometimes I keep the supporting leg simpler (1 or 2 lines) than the weight leg to indicate for a more relaxed quality.
6. Draw each arm by relating 1. a curve representing the shoulder to the movement of the rhythms created for the spine (In a back view this line could represent the scapula, from the front a more abstract rhythm). From the shoulder draw 2 lines, one for the humerus, and the last for the lower arm (this line can also flow into the direction of the hand or another line can be added for the hand.

This approach is heavily influenced by the teachings of Glen Vilppu. If you ever have the opportunity take one of his classes or read his "Villpu Manual" I highly recommend them.