A few times during the week I visit the mall and sit inconspicuously recording on paper a few of the multitude of gestures of people of all ages and conditions as they walk the hallway to and from their favourite shopping venue. Gestures are about communication, and I would like to discuss how I have benefitted from drawing gestures.
A gesture can be a "form of non-verbal communication or non-vocal communication in which visible bodily actions communicate particular messages, either in place of or in conjunction with, speech"(Wikipedia).
What do gestures do? A gesture drawing has the potential to communicate information about a person's physical form involving both inner and outer states of being such as emotions, physicality, uniqueness, and reactions to both the physical and psychological environment. Artists use gestures as a kind of shorthand to delineate a figure or an object without getting into much detail because they don't consider it finished. A gesture on paper might suggest a preliminary idea for a larger painting or sculpted project. It could include lines, shapes, shading, colours, diagrams, logos, words, or a description of a central idea or model.
What are the unique characteristics of gestures and how do we benefit from creating them? As stated, I firmly believe it's important not to treat a gesture like it's going to be a finished drawing. It's OK if it's vague or messy. Know that "Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor" (Lamott). Make some bad mistakes, rip it up and throw it away but don't stop. Keep going. Let it suggest with a light touch while you observe. Rather than cutting out the shape as an outline of something, work the drawing from the inside to the outside. This approach will help you to appreciate the whole. You might even imagine your drawing tool as moving inside the form in a way that structures movement and direction. Treating the overall motions within the whole form leads to a more dynamic study because we haven't made hasty decisions. By keeping everything loose with free strokes we are styling ourselves as flexible and open to new suggestions through what we perceive. Still observing intensely, while none of the marks is definite and precise, it's OK to search playfully, with uncertain awareness and confusion until the form emerges. I'd suggest this line of approach also works for a finished drawing where we begin with a gesture and eventually address all the uncertainties posed by reality.
I enjoy the fun and challenge. Sometimes I will see a family walking towards me, and I only have about ten seconds to record. Afterwards, I look at my page and ask myself what I saw first, second and later. Did I stop drawing after they passed? Why? With our gestures, we create direction and expression with brevity in mind but potentially sharpen our perceptive skills and move to produce more meaningful work. What we have done initiates inner change, and we are not intimidated by the adage, "We don't see things as they are. We see them as we are"(Nin).
Gesture, Definition. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gesture. Accessed 18 July 2018.
Lamott, Anne. "30 motivating quotes to help overcome your perfectionism". The Gratefulist. www.thegratefulist.com/blog/perfectionism-quotes. Accessed 18 July 2018.
Nin,Anaïs. "We Don't See Things As They Are,We See Them As We Are". Quote Investigator. https://quoteinvestigator.com/2014/03/09/as-we-are/ Accessed 27 July, 2018.