Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Fast-Pose Gesture Drawing

pencil on paper
detail about 12 x 14 inches
3 hour pose

A couple weeks ago I went to a life drawing session and was kind of horrified at how bad my short-pose gesture drawings were. I'm honestly categorically against teaching people to draw the human figure solely with fast gesture drawings, but at the same time I was mortified at how bad mine were - skritchy messes of lines that did not show at all what the model was doing.

We "warmed up" (how I loathe that word) with 1-10 minute poses, but most the session was a 3-hour pose. The drawing above is the 3-hour pose, and again I was amazed at how frantically I worked to capture the pose within the 3 hours, and felt the final drawing was not very successful.

Below was the best of the short poses from that day, a 10-minute pose. I'm not even going to post the 1-minute gestures.

10 minute gesture, pencil on paper

So after that experience I decided I needed to do some homework before the next class and so I looked at Bridgman (the god of comic book artists). I did some sketches from my Bridgman books and then moved into gesture sketches of master figure paintings.

Sketches after Bridgman
9 x 12 sketchbook page, pencil

I did this several days in a row, a couple hours a day. It was so fun I really didn't want to paint any more!

Sketches after Bridgman, Careggio, Reni
9 x 12 sketchbook page, pencil

For all of these I used a combination of Bridgman construction ideas, plus the straight-line block-in, plus the inner movement curve. Frankly the curve works best for these sketches.

Ok, I am not very fast yet - each of these individual figures on this page took 30 to 60 minutes to begin to capture the pose. But my goal is make highly accurate gesture drawings: simple, undecorated sketches that clearly show the feeling and intention of the movement.

When I went back to open life drawing session yesterday, I felt just these few hours of "homework" helped a lot! My gesture drawing improved greatly:

1 minute poses, pencil on paper

10 minute pose

3 hour pose, approx 12 x 14 inches, pencil on paper

I still struggled with capturing the poses quickly and efficiently, but I think all these drawings are better than the first day's drawings. And since I left a lot of the construction lines in you can see how I am using the "movement curve."

My original posts about Studio Escalier's inner movement curve concept are here and here.