Friday, October 1, 2010

Art of the Gesture

I've had a few opportunities as of late to model for drawing sessions doing exclusively gesture poses. I discussed gesture poses briefly in a recent entry, but I'll go into more detail here. I'm writing this with sketching in mind, but much of what I say here can be generalized to photography, as well.

The intent behind gesture drawings is to capture the essence of the pose- the basic lines, form, and movement. To aid artists in doing this, I try to make my poses coherent, with everything from weight distribution to limb placement, working together to form a single, unified gesture. Oftentimes, I have a mood or emotion in mind for a given pose.

Because gesture poses tend to be more strenuous than longer poses one may hold, I try to rotate through which limb is being strained. I shift the bulk of my weight from one leg to the other. If I've had an arm stretched out in to space or supporting weight, I generally let it rest in a more relaxed position for the next pose. If I arch dramatically back for one pose, I'll leave my torso in a more neutral position, or else curled forward in the next pose. By the end of a run of gestures, I'm generally aching fairly evenly all over.

I take the time in one pose to scheme for the next one. I start with a general idea of what I'd like to do, then refine it. Are all of the various pieces working together? Am I going to be stressing a limb which is already burning? Is the pose adequately different from those that I've already struck? How will I rotate, to maximize both variety and favorable angle for the artist(s) who are working? By taking the time to consider all of these factors, I can quickly move from one well-executed pose to another.

If there's interest, I'll shoot a series of self-portraits of a few gesture poses, and go into further detail on each pose. Of course, feedback or additional suggestions are always welcome.

4 comments:

  1. I've done the "all gesture" sessions before. Fun because you can do things you'd never dream of doing for 30, 20 or even 10 minutes. Not so fun because it's a constant mental scramble thinking... okay, what should I do next? Post some self-pics if you choose, I'd love to see them if only to get some new ideas.

    Cheers,
    Bob

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  2. I have put modeling on hold for sometime, and miss it dearly, but I would love to see more detail on gesture poses. I hope when I have established myself enough on my writing I can continue to sitting for artists and photographers again.

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  3. Over the past two years or so, I've been modeling for the Salt Lake Art Institute and the instructor really pushes gesture poses, which I love. He starts each 4-hour class with a session consisting of 20 30-second gestures followed by 10 1-minute gestures, then the next session is 10 2-minute gestures. Each session goes with longer and longer poses, often ending with a 20 to 40 minute pose. I really love these classes and especially the short gestures.

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  4. Kari,

    I just discovered your blog through your link on Model Mayhem. I wish I had seen it years ago because your advice and observations are priceless. I've been working as an art model for several years now and I had to figure out this stuff for myself. Thanks. ArtModel303

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