Gestural Drawing with Lady Hue

When people ask me what I did last weekend I like to say, "I hung out with naked people".  Well, let me back up a little bit, I only got to hang out with one naked person and it was in an art class.  For those of you who have not taken life drawing before, you should know one thing: art naked (or I should say, the nude figure) isn't nearly as exciting as you think it might be.  Artists like to explain that we are like doctors as we approach the figure.  It's a learning experience.

I have always had an interest in duplicating the figure.  I remember when I was a teenager I would hang on to teen swimsuit magazines so I could try to draw the figure accurately.  I still have a handful of those drawings that weren't too shabby, but we're too great either.  The reason they weren't great is because I never learned how to begin with a loose gestural drawing and progress from general to specific.  I'd like to touch on that idea today and give some pointers on moving from the general to specific in painting, drawing, or any medium, and I'll use these sketches to explain myself.

Let me try to explain gestural drawing:  It is something loose, unfinished, and semi raw.  It is something that relies more on an artists intuition and expression than technique.  It is the first architectural floor plan that leads to the finished structure of the art piece.  When I went to this art class last Saturday we began with 3 gestural drawings to warm up our hands and minds and then began an hour long pose.  The hour long piece also began with a gestural drawing that was built upon.

Practicing a gestural stroke is so important in beginning an art piece.  The most common mistake in approaching the figure is getting to specific too early.  For example: drawing the nose and the eyes before you've established general relationships of sizes and placement.

I had one teacher in my undergrad who suggested we practice sketching to a metronome.  He would turn it on and with every "click click click" of the metronome you were supposed to keep your hand fluidly moving.  This was both irritating and helpful for me.  It removed me from my normal routine and forced me to move on when I wanted to linger on one area.

When sketching with gestural motions the end result should be very satisfying.  When I did this sketch last saturday I began with the gestural drawing and kept readjusting relationships of shapes and lines on the paper.  I would hold up my pencil and feel for different horizontal and vertical angles and points of intersections.  Once I was comfortable with the relationships I had created I began carving in silhouettes and negative spaces to create the figure.  As I began to apply general shading and contours the piece came together with ease.  For only an hour sketch, I am very happy with how it turned out!

>>>[Welcome to a newish series here on the twig blog, how-to tips from artists who are authentic, real, and inventive. Each month a few of our favorites will spill their secrets and skills to help you in your creative path. We're excited to learn a few things ourselves. Come soak it up and share the love.]


weird amiga :

Nice lines!
I love gestural drawing, the results are often ethereal... Particularly love Egon Schiele's style.

S. Hunt :

Wow, awesome tips. Drawing the human figure is the hardest thing in the world.

Danie at Pasadya :

What a great figure drawing! Quick gesture drawings were always my favorite in college drawing classes. They were offering night classes on nude drawings...but I was too shy to go. Maybe sometime soon!


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