Just what is it?
There is a lot of confusion on what is meant by gesture drawing. The word gesture implies movement, a waving of the hands. How does this apply to drawing? There is also as much lack of understanding when contour drawing is discussed. These are two different approaches to drawing. Both are valid, but give totally different results.
Both deal with drawing what is actually see, not what you think you see. Both exercises teach you something about the real world and how you, as an artist interpret that world.
Contour drawing is simply put drawing the outline of the object or subject. Sound simple enough. But it requires a great deal of concentration. You are looking for edges, edges that might not actually exist in the real world. You are looking for the visual edges. But you are going to apply a sense of touch to your drawing.
When I was taking my first drawing class, we all struggled with this. The teacher had set up a complicated still life, and tried to get us to do a continuous lines contour of what was there. Frankly, the exercise was a failure because none of us understood just what the teacher was trying to have us do. Now, years later, I look back at that class and realize just how hard explaining this can be. You are trying to say in words what is happening in the head. Contour drawing is much more than simply looking at something. You need to see it, feel it almost taste it.
Contour drawing is all about concentrating on an object. Also, it is about drawing from life, not a photograph. You need a real life object or subject. Something solid. You want to experience this object totally. Immerse yourself in it.
The Set Up
|Draw the outline|
one contineous line
|Completed contour drawing|
|Gesture Drawing of Bow|
The exact opposite is gesture drawing. It is not about edges, but volume, movement; the fullness of the whole. This is a favorite method of mine when I can see people or animals move. It is about catching the action! Seizing the moment. Gesture drawings should be rapid, fluid and very expressive. Sometimes it just might be hard to see the object/subject in the activity! Let your pencil roam the paper, fill it with the action you see happening. Draw rapidly and continuously, in one fluid line what you see happening before your eyes.
Contour drawing puts you in touch with the edges of a form, in gesture drawing you feel the movement of the whole. Remember that contour drawing is about edges, and gesture drawing is about movement.
|Gesture Drawings of Squirrels |
at the Bird Feeder