As far as I know, most art schools have exercises or even whole classes focusing on making gesture drawings. But actually, I’m wondering, why bother with it?
While it probably has some merits, but most of the reasoning for it provided by blogs and various teachers is quite silly. All the talk about “capturing the essence of the pose” or “catching the most important part of the drawing” seems just like some kung-fu mysticism or drawing-religion.
The closest thing to answering my question was a video I found on
by Matt Kohr, and I would summarize it in three points:
- you get well warmed up
- you focus on drawing
- you do a lot of drawings that way (so called pencil mileage)
But frankly, I don’t really have the time for such explicit “warming up” and I’d much rather warm up during actual work – drawing studies, studying anatomy, texture, proper shading and so on. Drawing gets me in the mood for drawing and well, it increases your pencil mileage too. Matt suggests to always do gesture drawings, even if it’s the only drawing you do that day, but that would probably make me do gesture drawings ONLY!
So what exactly is so cool about gesture drawings? What do they have that other exercises don’t? They’re fast and sloppy, and for me they don’t seem to bring much to the table if skill improvement is concerned. Am I missing something here?
There is absolutely nothing cool about them. But they are also not mysticism.
Life drawing is about starting with a scaffold and hanging more and more detail on it–through time and effort–until you decide to give up.
If your scaffold is not correct, it will have long-lasting effects on the final product.
Gesture drawing is a way to focus training on this crucial first step. All the hand waving is a way to distract the non-analytically minded students.