, , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Gestural painting

Have a look at the video in the link above.
I have just watched this video and it took me back to my life drawing classes at Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology. In these sessions we would undoubtedly start with about 30 minutes of “loosening up”. We would almost always draw using the biggest paper we could find, usually A1 in size and usually a type of paper that was cheap so we didn’t mind the work not being perfect.
We would fill that first half hour with gestural drawing where we would fill the giant paper from side to side with marks. We would be standing usually away from the work with pur arms outstretched (sometimes even with arms outstretched and our drawing tool at the end of a meter ruler), and we would move all of our bodies. Like dancing to make bold big marks quickly without too much thought for where the marks went but just staring at our subject and responding. Responding to the shapes of the subject, the curves, the movements, the lights and darks, the areas of tension in our models. We would quickly put marks on our page going across the subject and through it. We were encouraged to use any materials we could find that would make a mark. And we were encouraged to be quick. We would work at speed, 10 second drawings, 20 second drawings, the most time we would have was 10minutes, and even that time would fly by and we were encouraged even with a longer time to work to be free with our marks.
I was so miffed to find that when I along  with my art club to life drawing classes that everyone was sitting, everyone had teeny tiny pieces of paper, and the poses lasted half an hour or longer! Sure, some of the drawings were ok. But most lacked life, and looked as stiff and in natural as the artists looked creating them.

No one wanted to sit next to me either, and the ones who did wound up staring at my page more than their own. They couldn’t believe the size of my paper, the speed with which I worked, and most couldn’t believe that my work, the work of the crazy kid dancing about, was better than their own though it probably wasn’t technically acurate in terms of proportion or shape. But there was no denying the freedom of the workand the life shown in the drawings.
An important lesson to learn is that all art really is, is a series of marks. Anyone can do it. And anyone can be expressive with it. And if you just relax about your art you can create some seriously beautiful art.
I plan, in the future, to make some examples of gestural work being done. To work through with you some techniques of gestural drawing. Keep an eye out for that. And go and have some fun drawing big and drawing fast!

Here are some examples I have found of gestural drawing.

Jen Heydt-Nelson‘s example shows the base lines sort of like a stick man which show the angle of the body and then the limb. She has then worked through the figure and across the stick figure to create movement, fullness, and to fill our the figure more fully.

A student drawing found on Clara Liew’s blog. This drawing I wanted to show you because I wanted to draw attention to the light and dark areas of this drawing. See how the darkest areas are not necessarily the areas of the most shadow? But instead they have been placed in the areas with the most tension. The area where the model’s right wrist is bent to support her on the stool, the area under her left armpit where she twists her arm back towards us, the place where here bottom rests on the stool and sits atop her right foot. This work also demonstrates the importance of using all of your tool. The tip of your tool (here a piece of charcoal), but also the side of it. And the desperate importance of variety in your work. Variety of light and dark, sharp versuses rounded, thin versus thick.

Dancing to music is an example a very quick drawing probably only a few seconds worth but where you really get a sense of the life and movement of the subject. There is examples in this of working through the subject, and of light and dark thick and thin. Notice how even with a very rapidly drawn picture you can achieve something dynamic and expressive.

And to finish. Here are a few of my gestural drawings. Not as flash as some of the above but I consider them to be among my best works.