Gesture drawing, Contour drawing and Subtractive Drawing

Gesture Drawing

Rembrandt Gesture Drawing

A gesture drawing is a laying in of the action, form, and pose of a model/figure. Typical situations involve an artist drawing a series of poses taken by a model in a short amount of time, often as little as 10 seconds, or as long as 5 minutes. Gesture drawing is often performed as a warm-up for a life drawing session, but is a skill that must be cultivated for its own sake.

The primary purpose of gesture drawing is to facilitate the study of the human figure in motion. This exploration of action is helpful for the artist to better understand the exertions of muscles, the effects of twisting on the body, and the natural range of motion in the joints. Basically, it is a method of training hands to sketch what the brain has already seen. Staying “focused” means sustained concentration.

The practice allows an artist to draw strenuous or spontaneous poses that cannot be held by the model long enough for an elaborate study, and reinforces the importance of movement, action, and direction, which can be overlooked during a long drawing. Thus, an approach is encouraged which notes basic lines of rhythm within the figure. The rapidity of execution suggests an aesthetic which is most concerned with the essence of the pose, and an economy of means in its representation, rather than a careful study of modelling of light on the form.

For some artists, there is a callisthenic logic: just as an athlete warms up before exercising or participating in sports, artists use gesture drawing to prepare themselves mentally and physically for a figure drawing session. The fast pace of gesture poses help an artist “loosen up” to avoid a stiff drawing style.

For some artists, a gesture drawing is the first step in preparing a more sustained work. Other artists, who seek to capture brief moments of time in a direct manner, consider the gesture drawing to be the end product.

Croquis Drawing

Croquis Drawing  is quick and sketchy drawing of a live model. Croquis drawings are usually made in a few minutes, after which the model changes pose or leaves and another croquis is drawn.

The short duration of the pose benefits models because they do not need to keep still for a long time; this also benefits the artists because it helps them concentrate on the essential elements of the pose, or the most important parts of the drawing. An artist does not have time to draw all the details, so they learn to concentrate on the important elements. Croquis is also a good method of drawing subjects that generally do not stand still and pose, such as insects, animals, and children.

Contour Drawing

Contour drawing, is an artistic technique used in the field of art in which the artist sketches the contour of a subject by drawing lines that result in a drawing that is essentially an outline; the French word contour meaning, “outline.”  The purpose of contour drawing is to emphasize the mass and volume of the subject rather than the detail; the focus is on the outlined shape of the subject and not the minor details. However, because contour can convey a three-dimensional perspective, length and width as well as thickness and depth are important; not all contours exist along the outlines of a subject. This technique is manifested in different styles and practiced in drawing development and learning.

In a continuous-line drawing, the artist looks both at the subject and the paper, moving the medium over the paper, and creating a silhouette of the object. Like blind contour drawing, contour drawing is an artful experience that relies more on sensation than

Contour Drawing

perception; it’s important to be guided by instinct. To make a blind contour drawing, an artist does not look at the paper or canvas on which he/she is working. Another technique similar to contour drawing is outline drawing; a division between form and the space a subject occupies. All three types of drawing are considered to be gesture drawings; the practice of drawing a series of bodies in still form. An outline drawing does not include the visual amusement of human sight, while a contour drawing contains form, weight, mass, space, and distance.

 

By altering the character of the mark, an artist can emulate many aspects of the subject that relate form and space to the viewer. For example, a line can be lighter in value (gradation) to suggest greater distance between objects in the drawing. A darker portion of the contour could represent an object with little or no light source; the space is compressed or the object is lower. Continuous lines used inside the outline of a subject can add accent or cast shadow, depending on the value of the line.

Blind contour drawing is a drawing exercise, where an artist draws the contour of a subject without looking at the paper.  The student fixes their eyes on the outline of the model or object, then tracks the edge of the object with his or

Blind Contour Drawing

her eyes, while simultaneously drawing the contour very slowly, in a steady, continuous line without lifting the pencil or looking at the paper.

The purpose of drawing blindly is to force the artist’s eye to move along the contour of the subject as his or her pencil moves along the paper. Initially, this type of drawing may be difficult and slow, but an artist will find that with practice, it is an effective way of defining observation skills such as identifying and underlying the structure of the subject, relating forms, and conveying the sensual experience of the subject. Through thorough practice in this style, he/she will be skilled at drawing anything quickly and successively.

Subtractive Drawing

Subtractive drawing is a technique in which the drawing surface is covered with graphite or charcoal and then erased to make the image. Artists commonly use a kneaded eraser for this type of drawing, due to its ability have custom or fine tips.

 

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