In this fun and easy drawing lesson, you’ll learn that drawing more accurately means learning to look more carefully. Monday’s post explained how looking at what types of lines and shapes make up your subject is one important way artists look carefully.
Today’s post will show you an additional technique, called Gesture Drawing. In Gesture Drawing you try to quickly capture the overall shape and parts of an object or creature. For example, the gesture of a baseball player at bat is very different from a football player jumping up to catch a football. You’re not trying to get detail, just that overall “gesture.”
Artists use Gesture Drawing to explore and look carefully at their subjects. They often use it to warm up as they begin work. They don’t stop to erase unwanted lines—they just keep drawing over old lines until they get the gesture right.
If you’ve ever seen photos of pages from Leonardo da Vinci’s sketchbook, you’ve see how messy and scribbly it usually looked.
And you’ll be amazed what you learn from your scribbles, so I hope you’ll give Gesture Drawing a chance!
- sketchpads are nice (they’re good if you want to hold on to drawings) but not necessary. Any paper works just fine.
- Whatever paper you use, draw all over it, front and back, just like Leonardo da Vinci!
- Drawing pencils are helpful, as well as an artist’s kneaded eraser (these erase the graphite without taking away as much paper surface) but also not necessary.
- In fact for gesture drawing, I prefer crayons because it makes me work larger and I’m not tempted to erase but just keep going!!
1. Try to get the gesture of this little speeding sailboat
2. Try drawing 2 different teapots.
Here are two very differently-shaped teapots. As you can see, I’m using a crayon and refining lines as I go. No erasing. As I look at the spout on the short pot, I see it needs to be taller, as does the handle, but I’ve got its short rounded shape pretty well. Notice I didn’t draw any of the flowers. They don’t help me get the gesture, so they’re not needed unless I go on to a finished drawing.
As I worked on the tall, thin pot, I saw that the handle was very rectangular at the top and rose above the lid, and I kept working on it until I had it more like what I saw.
4. Pets are great to draw if they hold still or from photos! My dog, Molly likes it when I draw her.
Molly is a corgi and do you see how on the first gesture drawing (the one on the bottom left) I didn’t show how long she is? I noticed it right away and on the second, gave her a little more length!! Still not enough, but I’ve learned something important about her if I go on to a more detailed drawing. I also saw that I needed to make her nose shorter and her ruff thicker.
That’s what’s so great about starting with a quick sketch or gesture of your subject–it helps you look more carefully at what you’re drawing and as you keep refining your lines, you see more accurately for if or when you do a more detailed drawing.
Now you try some Gesture Drawings of
- stuffed animals
- your pets
- pictures of people engaged in a sport
- a brother or sister curled up on a chair to read.