We’ve been doing a lot of gesture drawing in the studio lately. When artists talk about gesture, they are referring to the position and movement of a body and the way that position and/or movement conveys attitude or feeling. When a single line captures both movement and mood, it is a beautiful thing.
Gesture drawings are drawings that attempt to capture both the movement and mood of a particular moment. They are done quickly, sometimes in as little as 30 seconds or up to five minutes. If the main goal of a gesture drawing is to capture movement and mood and the artist only has two minutes, a lot of other things need to be sacrificed. Details and proportion are often the hardest things to ignore when making a gesture drawing. But, trust me, forget ’em (at least for now).
I am a people person. That is, I like to draw and paint people. I am used to teaching gesture through live human models. My student, on the other hand, is an animal person. So, I had to adjust. I was happy to be able to pull a fantastic little book off my shelf for inspiration. Alexander Calder’s Animal Sketching.
Calder is one of my most favorite artists. These sketches are done from live animals. Sometimes they are napping, but more often they are walking, stretching, yawning, rolling around. They are captured quickly. And perfectly. Calder is a genius at capturing the distinctive movements and personality of his subjects in the simplest way.
So, that is what we practiced. With ink and bamboo brushes we set out to capture the perfect animal gesture. Check it out…
Look at how this student captured the cautious curiosity of this little cub. So beautiful.