Saturday, April 3, 2010

Gesture Drawings

Realized last night that the art books from the library were due back on Monday. Had to crack one of them open for the first time today.

The Natural Way to Draw by Kimon Nicolaides was published after his death in 1938. It has been THE how-to-draw book for decades. My three-penny review is that it is more a how-to book on seeing rather than drawing. There are no tips or tricks on drawing per se, but how to think, feel and relate to the subject.

He uses four kinds of drawings:

1) Blind contour - Draw slowly without looking at the paper, *feeling* along the edge of the subject with the pencil as if you are touching the edge of the subject with your finger.

2) Gesture drawing - A scribbly type of drawing to capture the essence of the thing as a whole, not concentrating on any details, just the motion or gesture of the subject.

3) Weighted drawing - Mashing the pencil to the paper to make darker scribbles where the weight of the subject would occur: hips, thighs, the leg with weight on it.

4) Modelled drawing - Mashing the pencil into the paper to make blacker marks where the form of the subject goes away from you and lighter where it comes closer. Similar to a sculptor mashing his thumbs into a clay head to form the sides of the nose.

And that's it. That's all the kind of drawing exercises there are, just in different media: Pencil, charcoal, watercolor, oil.

To use the book properly would take a year of hard work, and that is no exaggeration. There are 64 exercises, each one having five sections, and each section requiring three or more hours of drawing 40 or so drawings. The basic premise seems to be that if you draw three hours a day every day for a year you'll get better. Ya think???

The only part of the book that stuck with me was the gesture drawing. Nicolaides said that in 30 seconds you should have a whole, recognizable form on the paper. Oy. Thought I'd give that concept a shot. So I trotted out on the porch with the big Black N Red to watch Hubby rake the last of the leaves.

Hubby was taking a break on the porch and that was a good thing. It was less daunting to draw him sitting than trying to draw him raking leaves. Usually if I ask to draw him he immediately finds a pressing matter to which he must attend and bolts. He actually agreed to sit absolutely still for a few minutes while I drew.

Sitting 1:
Sitting 2:
Reclining:Hubby said these were OK but they make him look like he has a big ol' belly and moobs. He does have a big ol' belly and moobs.

Hubby got bored with posing and went back to his leaf raking, so I drew the neighbor's car.

Hubby took another break and Cheezburger joined him for a little lap time:
They sat there together for a long while, so I started adding facial features. Shouldn't have done that.

Hubby went back to work, so Cheezy became my sketching victim:

Then Hubby got a phone call....

...and switched the phone to the other ear.

The neighbor came out to chat and inspect:
Believe it or not, the drawing on the right is recognizable as the neighbor. That one gets a Woot! The drawing on the left with the thin lines is where I showed them to her and had to trace the features so she could understand what the scribbles represented. I thought it was obvious but she was having trouble seeing it.

Tried tackling Hubby actually raking leaves:

Hubby finally wore himself out raking and piled up on the porch to cool off. I drew the only part of him I could see as a whole from a distance of two feet, his arms:

I realize these are rough drawings, not really post-worthy, but they are valuable to me because something clicked in my brain about halfway through them. I got it. I got what Nicolaides was attempting to teach his students through repetitive drawing exercises. I have a new way of seeing things as a whole, not just as the sum of their parts. Eureka!


Alissa said...

These are great - you were really getting into it ! I liked the reclining figure, the phone drawings and Cheezy. I think all drawings are worthy of posting - not just the "best" ones - as I said these are great

john.p said...

I'm with Alissa - these are great! You've done this before. You're capturing some nice detail, too. This is the type of drawing I'm weakest at and you're providing some encouragement for me to try it again.