Friday, December 21, 2012

Gesture, Mentler, and Boldini

I've been advised to persue gesture sketches - something I've done very little of. In fact it's something I've thought very little about, and now in pondering it and checking into it I believe it's a very important aspect that I need to develop in my work. A quick google into it turned up some threads at - my old standby for art education - in particular this extremely inspiring sketchbook thread by Michael Mentler. I know, what he has on this thread aren't gesture sketches, though I believe he does them mostly from life and begins them with gesture sketches. From what I'[ve gleaned on a couple of other CA threads on gesture, there's a modern school of thought on the subject that uses gesture sketches as warmup or practice, and then you out them aside and begin the drawing in earnest. But apparently the idea originates with Nicoliades, who called them 'short poses' and said that it's essential they not be used that way, but instead as part of the process of finding the shapes for the drawing itself.

Looking at some of Mentler's work, it's easy to see parts of the original sketch still showing through here and there - he seems to start with a stick figure and strike in measuring lines to provide accuracy before proceeding to the construction phase. I like this approach, but I do believe it's also important to do the *other* kind of gesture sketches as well - not to be developed farther but to serve simply to aid you in developing the connection between eye and implement. It's been said the point of doing gesture sketches is to take the intellect out of the way - to prevent you from overthinking. To build those direct neural pathways running from the eye to the  hand, and to help you to begin drawing impulsively.

Anyway, I haven't done any gesture sketches yet, instead I got all inspired to try to draw like Mentler, who is a sort of modern-day DaVinci:

The fountain pen is really frustrating when I use it in the cream colored sketchbook - the paper isn't slick enough and it very quickly gets clogged with paper fibers and needs to be cleared constantly. In fact, all the little circles and squares and the alphabet were to keep testing the pen and see how well it's working - weirdly it always seems to cut out at the same part of each circle or square or letter.

Oh - forgot about Boldini - in one of the threads about the benefits of gesture drawing someone mentioned an artist named Boldini who's paintings are practically ALL gesture - amazing stuff!!

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