What is Gesture?

Authored by Christy Olsen
3-minute read.

Gesture is a technique that will help you capture your first impressions and further articulate your message. It is also an abstract concept that tells the story.

5 min Gesture Drawing

This process is used to create a drawing quickly to express the intent or to capture the energy of a figure or subject's movement or motion. It usually contains what is called the "line of action," which follows through the overall movement.

These quick sketches focus on the big picture, not the details. They are drawn within a short time (in as little as 10 seconds or up to 5 minutes).

Drawing from life is often preferred over a photographic reference. It allows views of the model from multiple angles and without distortion of the lens or poor lighting conditions.

Gesture and rhythm (from Greek rhythmos" any regular recurring motion") are often used interchangeably. We usually associate rhythm with a piece of music; however, rhythm can be found in everything in the visual arts. It can also be exaggerated to move the viewer's eye through an image.

All organics or living things within the natural world have rhythm. In landscape, you will find these repeated patterns in the sea, clouds, trees, or mountains.

In still life, look for recurring lines, shapes, values, or colors with a vital element of opposite or different conditions to create a sense of movement or pattern.

In figure drawing, it's the movement that connects contours, forms, or tones. Analyze motion within a series of model poses or by observing animals. You may have to exaggerate body language or the action in your drawing to get your point across.

The "Line of Action" or directional line of the pose connects the pose from head to toe. Look for the longest axis to find the fluid line of action that connects all parts.

The repetition of short drawings without pausing forces the artist to work intuitively. The other benefit of gesture drawing are self-training. It will improve your ability to draw.

Follow Christy Olsen
on her instructional blog at christyolsen.blogspot.com
or visit her website at ChristyOlsen.com

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