Most athletes do warm up exercises before an athletic event. Whether they are running a marathon, playing a basketball game, or riding a bucking bronc, the athlete bends and stretches to prepare their muscles for what is coming. Most athletes also tend to do mental preparation as well, getting themselves in the proper mindset.
Artists can also benefit from doing warm up exercises before beginning an art project. So what would a typical warm up exercise be for an artist?
Warm up exercises for artists could be as simple as doing 5 or 10 minutes of contour, blind contour, or gesture drawing. I have previously written about contour and blind contour drawing. If you would like to read those articles click on the links below. In the article today, I want to focus on gesture drawing.
What is a gesture drawing? A gesture drawing is a drawing done quickly with a sort of “scribbling” manner. The artist looks at something, such as a model, and tries to capture what is seen on the page. Lines are drawn lightly. As the artist continues they draw over the lines they don’t like with darker lines. No erasing is done. No detail is added. No shading is included in the sketch.
Many gesture drawings are done in preparation or warm up for life drawing class. When you take a life drawing class you draw from live models focusing on the human form. The length of the pose can be anywhere from 20 seconds to 5 minutes. The idea is to capture the essence or feeling of the pose. Many poses are difficult for a model to hold, therefore it makes sense to draw quickly. The model makes a gesture with their body and the artist captures it on paper.
Gesture drawings can also be of other subject matter. You do not have to draw only people. You can sketch a still life or a simple object that happens to be near you. But drawing from a model can be a lot of fun.
You can do gesture drawings of people in your family. It will not take a lot of time. Spend ten minutes at the most. Ask someone in the family to pose for you. You can do two five minute poses or shorter poses as you feel more confident in your drawing.
If no one is available to pose, catch family members as they are doing a chore around the house. Maybe your sister is reading a book or doing homework. Do a short gesture drawing of her at work. Or maybe your Mom is sweeping the floor. See if you can quickly sketch her movement.
One of my favorite times to sketch is when the family is watching television. You can get gesture drawings of family members while they are not paying attention to what you are drawing. Plus, they are usually not moving around much. You can do longer poses that way.
When you do your gesture drawings use large paper. Hold the pencil loosely and remember these drawings are for practice. You can draw over previous gestures, so your page of gesture drawings will most likely run together. Notice how each gesture drawing gets better as you go along. Send me some pictures of your gesture drawings. I would love to see them!