Do you struggle to create figures that look dynamic and not stiff? Maybe you've applied those "4 Actions for Accurate Proportions," and have measured and re-measured. Everything seems to be accurate. And yet, in your drawing, the figure still looks stiff as a board!
The 4 Actions can indeed help you achieve accuracy. But accuracy and liveliness are sometimes 2 different things. At the end of the last lesson, I mentioned there is actually kind of a 5th action—the gesture line.
Practicing gesture lines is a key to creating figures that look dynamic and not stiff.
What Gesture Lines Are
And Why You Need Them
Typically, gesture drawing is done from life, and under a short time limit. Each example above represents about 2–3 minutes of drawing. Below, I've spent just a couple more minutes on each drawing.
In the extra time spent on each drawing, I simply built more specific shapes on top of my original gesture lines. If you use your initial gesture lines as the foundation for a drawing, they can help your drawing retain some of the energy of those gesture lines.
But your drawing will only be as strong as your foundation. That's why—even when you're gesture drawing—you still need to apply "The 4 Actions for Accurate Proportions." Because of the limited time-frame of a gesture drawing session, it may be impractical to always use a measuring tool to apply the 4 Actions, but you must still apply the 4 Actions using your eye.
How This Applies
To You as a Painter
- Gesture drawing can give you familiarity with
(and therefore greater confidence in) drawing
the basic shapes of the human figure.
- This confidence can help you break free from
a slavish adherence to static photo references
when painting a studio work.
- With practice, the energy and liveliness of
gesture drawing can be wielded in harmony
with the objectivity of the 4 Actions to create
figures that are both accurate and artistic.
I'll share more tips next time in "Creating Figures That Look Dynamic, Not Stiff (Part II)."
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