Drawing Helps us Look More Carefully
Project 3. Gesture Drawing
Remember the girl’s pinkie finger? It’s perfect for a gesture drawing, one method artists use to learn how to look carefully at things. It’s a sketch, done in just a minute or two, that ignores details. The artist tries to capture the gesture of a hand, a whole body, or even inanimate objects like pillows and teapots!
Gesture drawings are pretty scribbly; artists don’t stop to erase unwanted lines—they just keep drawing over old lines until they get the gesture right.
Try some gesture drawings of your hand in different poses. Challenge someone to copy your gesture. The more you practice, the better you’ll get.
You don’t need special equipment--sketchpads are nice (they’re good if you want to hold on to drawings) but not necessary. Any paper works just fine.
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, I prefer crayons because it makes me work larger and I’m not tempted to erase but just keep going!!
Here I am trying to curve my pinkie in the way the girl in the painting does. First I found it almost impossible to curl it like that (I think Fragonard exaggerated a little!) and then I had trouble getting the gesture right…as you can see! Also see how I keep refining my lines to get closer to the gesture.
Here’s another gesture where I got a little closer, but still no details and lots of lines that come closer and closer to the gesture.
Try drawing a teapot. A pillow.
Here are two very differently-shaped teapots (the tall one was my great grandmother’s and actually for cocoa!) As you can see, I’m still using my 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 longer.
As I worked on the tall pot, I saw that the handle was very rectangular at the top and rose above the lid, which I hadn’t drawn that way at first.
Now a pillow!
At first I thought this pillow had no “character” and would be easy to draw, but the more I looked, the more I saw and this gesture drawing proved to be one of the harder ones!
And last but not least here’s my dog Molly, who keeps me company whenever I’m working (well, at least when she’s not racing to the window to bark at something!) She’s going to show you how helpful gesture drawings can be to make your final drawings more accurate!!
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 legs stubbier!
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.
Project 4. How Lines Affect a Painting’s Mood
Here’s another project about lines
Remember that horizontal line in A Young Girl Reading? Here’s why it’s there: Lines have power to affect mood in a painting. Horizontal and vertical lines are quiet lines, increasing the peace and stability of a composition. Diagonal and curved lines are active and add excitement.
Compare A Young Girl Reading to The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello
https://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/paintings/paolo-uccello-the-battle-of-san-romano to see the difference line can make to the mood of a painting. See how many diagonal lines you can find in The Battle of San Romano!
Can you make the mood of one of your own pictures change from exciting to peaceful by changing the type of lines you use?
I hope you’ll have fun and let me know in the comments how you enjoyed these projects
In my next post, I’ll have some thinking and writing activities to go along with A Young Girl Reading. It’s so amazing to me how much we can think about and learn from great art!! Sooo….Be sure and sign up to receive these posts by email.
And don’t forget to visit my new website to see the art workshops and other types of presentations I’m available to do! See the details at: www.kathy-oneill.com