Monday, June 11, 2012

Finding the Gesture

6/9/12, charcoal
6/10/12, charcoal
I spent an intensive weekend learning figure drawing from Chandler Woodfin at Pratt. By the end of each full day of trying to find the “gesture” in a live model, I came home exhausted, but I think I learned more about drawing the past two days than I ever have. In a nutshell, locating the “gesture,” and therefore the expression, of a figure is all about the position of the shoulders and hips. If the gesture is correct, then the proportions will be correct. Much easier said than done! Nonetheless, after 39 drawings, I was surprised and pleased by my own progress.

At some point during the weekend, I mentioned to Chandler that my personal objective in taking the workshop was to be able to sketch people in action so that their bodies had correct proportions, and they looked like real people and not statues. Drawing a professional model who can hold stock-still for 20 minutes is one thing, I said. But how do I apply what I’m learning to the real world, where a person walking past me is gone within seconds? Her reply: Practice. With practice, my eye and brain would learn to visually capture and remember the gesture of a person walking by long enough to finish the sketch, even though the person was no longer in my field of view. When she saw my expression, she said, smiling, “There’s no magic trick to it. Just practice.”

How did I know she was going to say that?

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