They always say, “Practice what you preach,” right? For once, I think “they” have it right.
I recently began hosting life drawing panels at local conventions here in Denver. I started this trend up at AnomalyCon in March. My most recent panel was at MalCon in September. This time, instead of just leaving folks alone to draw, I injected suggestions and feedback as they were working. I had a small turnout, but fantastic feedback from my attendees. One of the recommendations I gave them was to continue their good work by practicing gesture drawing at home and out in the world. Of course, I had to explain the concept. Not everyone is familiar with the term or the awesome results that can come from this practice:
A gesture drawing is work of art defined by rapid execution. Typical situations involve an artist drawing a series of poses taken by a model in a short amount of time, often as little as 30 seconds, or as long as 2 minutes. Gesture drawing is often performed as a warm-up for a life drawing session.
I ran into an amazing instructional manual a few years back, based on suggested reading for an art class I was attending, The Natural Way to Draw, by Kimon Nicolaides. The publication date — 1941. Sometimes the best things we have to learn have already been taught for ages. I recommended it to my attendees…and then remembered my 1969 edition gathering dust on one of the bookshelves in my art studio.
I have never subscribed to the adage, “Do as I say, not as I do,” so I pulled it out, dusted it off and started thumbing through the opening chapters, only to feel a little discouraged. I don’t know about you, but I don’t happen to have a live model available 24/7 at home. I live with a wonderful, talented and visually engaging human being, but with his work schedule these days, I see more of the back of his head buried in the monitor than I do his face. Don’t get me wrong. His strong work ethic, dedication to his craft, and unstoppable passion for writing make him a constant inspiration to work hard and reach for my own dreams. But I’m sure you’ll agree, at this point, he’s not the best candidate for a drawing model.
I was relaying all of these thoughts to my erstwhile model when it occurred to me that one thing has changed since Kimon Nicolaides wrote his seminal instruction booklet. He didn’t have the internet. Naturally, I bee-lined straight for the computer and Googled “drawing model.” Lo and behold, the 1st hit on my search results page was a website dedicated to supplying timed images for gesture drawing and beyond:
Just goes to prove that another thing “they” say really is true. “Ask, and ye shall receive.”