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Pencil sketchdrawinggheno

  1. 1. presentspencil sketchdrawing lessons 32 Sketching Techniques to Learn How to Sketch with Expression and Power
  2. 2. Pencil SketchDrawing LessonsAction&GestureExpress the model’s gesturewith vigorous strokes andlet it be the guide for yourdrawing. Here’s Dan GhenoA good, expressive gesture drawing is at the core of every effective figurative image, whether it’s a loose three-minute drawing, a tight three-hour drawing, a highlyresolved three-week drawing, or an obsessivelyobserved and reworked three-year painting. Many people, especially nonartists, think agesture drawing is nothing more than a scrib-bled quick sketch. Some drawings can be noth-ing more than this. But in the hands of obser-vant artists, the initial gesture drawing meansmuch more. It establishes the overall propor-tion of the figure, quickly fixing the mood, thesweeping action of the pose, and the underlyingrhythms that give animation and life to a figuredrawing. To artists, a good gesture drawingswings like a Duke Ellington song and serves asa foundation that keeps all of their later, detailedobservations vital and alive.Leaning Figureby Dan Gheno, 2003, oil sanguine on bond paper, 24 x 18. Collection the artist.Here, I tried to focus on many goals while drawing this quick, 20-minute sketch. I tried to give a senseof physical and psychological weight to the figure as she leaned off her “line of gravity” into the wall forsupport; I aimed to create a feeling of atmosphere with my use of hazy tone that surrounds the figure,implies the supporting wall, and obscures the receding arm. I also sought to describe some of thealternating rhythms that seem to crisscross through her torso and limbs.This content has been abridged from an original article written by Dan Gheno. This premium has been published by InterweavePress, 201 E. Fourth St., Loveland, CO 80537-5655; (970) 669-7672. Copyright © 2009 by Interweave Press, a division of AspireMedia, all rights reserved. The contents of this publication may not be reproduced either in whole or in part without consent of thecopyright owner.2
  3. 3. Pencil SketchDrawing Lessons Process Drawing, Gestures (detail) by Dan Gheno, 2004, sanguine on bond paper, 13 x 24. Collection the artist. Some artists create an implied activity when linking multiple images of the same model across the page. Many artists use this simple grouping, called a process drawing, to create a pleasing pattern of shapes, but more often, they use it to suggest a sequential action in the figure, as if the model were moving. For this drawing, the model took a series of progressively evolving action positions, holding each pose for no more than five minutes. As I mentioned in one of my first line of action—that runs through the big like a loose stick figure. It sounds simplearticles on drawing for American Artist shape of the figure, capturing the overall enough—but it can get needlessly com-(January 2000), I feel that the “line of tilt of the pose. Then, you add further plicated if you don’t develop strategies toaction” is the most important aspect of lines, looking for the individual slants systematically observe, record, and retaina figure drawing and certainly at the of each limb. You can imagine these the subtleties of gesture as you delvecore of a well-observed gesture. First, action lines in your head, or you can further into the detail of form and want to establish the general action lightly draw them on the page. When Below, I suggest some methods forof the figure with a sweeping line—or drawn, the initial sketch can often look achieving a successful gesture drawing.3
  4. 4. Pencil SketchDrawing Lessons Past and Present (studies and underpainting) by Harvey Dinnerstein, studio photograph of several studies and detail of underpainting. The full, complete painting is a very large, multifigure composition (961⁄4 x 1721⁄4), depicting a psychologically, historically, and socially evocative street scene.SpeedMove quickly when you first begin your underpin the action of the pose and his calm manner, making revisions if youdrawing and don’t worry about making initial observation of detail that would later intend to push the drawing toward greatermistakes. You need to get something on appear in a more elaborate manner in the embellishment. Or, you can leave it as is,the paper before you can start making finished painting. to live as an example of a moment in timeadjustments. Notice how the sculptor Don Rodin is a sculptor of great physical or as an expression of energy.Gale moves his line randomly through and psychological nuance, but notice how Many 20th-century artist-educators,the forms, crisscrossing all over the figure he blasts into a figure with a broad water- such as Robert Henri and Kimonand wandering around the volumes of color wash, establishing all of the essential Nicolaides, were great proponents ofthe torso and limbs like wire wrapping action and movement of the figure with speedy gesture drawings, and they feltaround a form. Most people know Harvey a very basic but vital silhouette that he that one- or two-minute poses were anDinnerstein for his intensely observed, reinforces with minimum line. Speed essential and ongoing part of an artist’sdelicate imagery, but notice the brevity of forces you to observe reality with your gut, training. I practice quick gesture drawinghis sketch, an initial study for his painting making observations that have vitality, fed almost every day, using it to maintain myPast and Present. Look at the musician’s by the passion of discovery or maybe even sense of proportion and keep my skill levellimbs—you can still see an example of some fleeting anxiety. You can later stop sharpened, much like a musician playsthe long sweeping lines that he used to and look at the drawing in a more rational, scales to keep his hand in shape.4
  5. 5. Pencil SketchDrawing Lessons Contrapposto Many artists look to the torso to estab- lish a sense of action in their figures, especially the contrasting tilts of the chest and pelvis. Italian artists called this effect contrapposto. We take this concept for granted these days. For thousands of years, the early Egyptian cultures never did grasp the concept or rarely moved beyond thinking of the torso as one solid, straight form. Likewise, it took the Greeks many gen- erations to move beyond the elegantly beautiful but static forms of the Archaic period, in which they perceived the torso as one solid and straight form instead of two contrasting forms. Finally, they discovered their own form of contrap- posto, and they used it with great gusto, but it disappeared with the death of the Roman Empire. It was nearly another thousand years before Western civiliza- tion rediscovered this simple and seem- ingly obvious principle. Contrapposto literally means contrast or counterpoint. We see this all the time in the torso: If the chest tilts backward as it usually does when standing, the pelvis shifts forward. When seated, the pelvis tends to shift backward, while the rib cage of more posture-challenged people tends to slump forward. When you stand with most of your weight on one leg, the hip on the supporting leg angles up, while the shoulders angle down in opposition. The Renaissance and Baroque artists saw the beauty of this physical principle and put it to great artistic use. They frequently placed limbs in contrapposto to each other as Raphael did in his drawing Back View of Michelangelo’s David. Here, he draws one arm up and out, while putting the other arm back and down; likewise, he draws one leg back and straight, while placing the other leg forward and bent. Back View of Michelangelo’s David by Raphael, 1507–1508, pen and brown ink, 281⁄3 x 151⁄2. Collection The British Museum, London, England.5
  6. 6. Pencil SketchDrawing Lessons Bending Gesture by Dan Gheno, 1996, sanguine crayon on bond paper, 18 x 24. Collection the artist.The Line of GravityThe line of gravity is nothing more than standing figure, the line of gravity falls figure leans over to one side, the morea straight line, showing the perpen- from the pit of the neck to a point direct- the line of gravity will deviate from thedicular power of the Earth that pulls ly between the two supporting feet. If figure’s point or points of support. Theus to its surface, but this deceptively the model moves most of his weight to human body can hold these action posesunpretentious line plays an enormous one leg, the individual body parts of the for only a few minutes, so draw whilerole in planning your gesture drawing. figure shift back and forth like a spring, you can before the model falls over. ToYou’ve probably seen drawings with an until the pit of the neck and the line of hold an action pose for any length ofill-considered or crooked line of gravity gravity falls unswervingly over the sup- time, the model has to grab onto some-at their gesture base. They feature stand- porting foot. thing such as a stool or stick. This proping figures that seem to hang listlessly Even a slightly off-center line of grav- then becomes one of the model’s pointsoff hooks. Look closely—every pose, ity can destabilize the look of a calm, of support, with the line of gravity fall-no matter how simple or bland, has a relaxed standing pose. Try to grab onto ing between the prop and the pointdistinctive but subtle gesture and line some of that dynamic instability when where the model’s feet or other bodyof gravity. On a neutral, well-balanced you draw action poses. The more the part touches the ground.6
  7. 7. Pencil SketchDrawing Lessons Rhythm Figure 1 Composers struggle mightily to create rhythm in their music, looking for just the right combination of repetition and variation. Rhythm is equally important to a gesture drawing, but figurative artists don’t need to look much beyond their subject to find direction. The clothed and nude human body is filled with ready- made rhythms, its complex, intertwined forms offering inspiration for the artist’s creative manipulation and interpreta- tion. With study, you will notice the emergence of dominating, repeating patterns. You will observe several major body parts or plane edges moving into and out of the overall figure at similar angles, alternating with other secondary, contrasting forms. Although the specific rhythms change with each new pose, you will frequently notice that many of these rhythms have an S-shaped, flamelike The human body, quality to them. I sometimes begin my particularly the gesture drawings with a sweeping S-like line of action (Fig. 1, A). Then, I often nude human form, run another undulating line (B,C) from has enormous one side of the shoulder down to the opposite side of the hip. More often than metaphorical and not, I simply imagine these lines in my symbolic power. head, looking for clues that can help me Don’t squander its unlock the music of the human form. Even the individual body parts have potential, and don’t their own pattern of underlying rhythms. let your drawings— As just one example of many, look at gestural or other- the leg. The upper leg tends to swing outward toward the front, while the wise—become lower leg swings backward and inwardscholastic exercises.­­­­­­ in a classic S-shaped rhythm (Fig. 1). Even smaller subforms crisscross musi- cally throughout the legs: Notice that the upper leg is fuller toward the top on the outside and fuller toward the bottom on the inside (Fig. 1, D). You’ll also find a similar pattern in the lower leg. You will see a fullness of form toward the top on the outside of the calf muscles, and a full- er form toward the bottom on the inside calf (Fig. 1, E). Move your eyes lower, and you will find a perfect counterpoint in the ankles, with the inner ankle higher and the outer ankle lower (Fig. 1, F).7
  8. 8. Pencil SketchDrawing LessonsLine QualityThe quality of your line is very figure with a deadweight, unmodu- of curves are too suggestive of theimportant and it can make or break lated line, as Gustav Klimt and Ingres circle—they will have a self-containeda gesture drawing. Emphasize the sometimes did, letting the shapes quality, as if your figure were builtcomplex rhythms of the figure by and attitude of the figures speak for out of separate, disjointed baubles.alternating thick and thin strokes, themselves. Your line work can range You want curves to evolve one intosaving your strongest lines for the from the angular, as in some of Egon the other, not start and stop like adominant rhythms. You can also Schiele’s work, or the curvaceous, sputtering car.reinforce the interlocking, sculptural as in all of Rubens’ work, but noticequality of the shapes by emphasizing how straight and curved lines alter-the lines on forms that cross over and nate throughout their work as forms Men Hauling on a Rope and Other Studiesin front of other forms. Arbitrarily do in reality on the live, human fig- by Taito II, 91⁄2 x 13. Collection Victoria and Albertvarying the thick and thin quality of ure. Whatever you do, avoid stylized Museum, London, England.the line, as Taito II does in his study or predictable curves. A master in his own right, Taito II’s work is oftenof Men Hauling on a Rope, imposes Although you may feel a great misattributed to his teacher, Hokusai. It’s no wonder—Taito II manipulates his line in a similara cadenced, abstract line pattern upon deal of pride in your ability to draw manner. In this drawing, notice the fluid use ofyour figures. You can also draw your even, geometric curves, those kinds alternating thick and thin lines.8
  9. 9. Pencil SketchDrawing LessonsForeshorteningIf you have ever seen a late Renaissanceor Baroque painting in person, youknow the power of foreshortening. Theirdynamic figures lunge across the flat sur-face of the paintings, but their foreshort-ened body forms also seem to pulsateinto and out of space, piercing the pictureplane. These artists worked out theirplans on paper in their preparatory draw-ings, using the powerful shorthand ofline to indicate space. When drawing ges-turally, use the masters for inspiration.Look for cornering effects: For instance,in the arm, an elbow joint might jump Reclining Nude Figureout into space. Perhaps you could by John Singer Sargent, charcoal, 18 x 241⁄2. Collection Wadsworth Atheneum Museum ofemphasize it with a heavy overcutting Art, Hartford, Connecticut.line. Look for bones: Sometimes you can Sargent employs foreshortening to guide theuse the shaft of the ulna in the lower arm viewer’s eye along an energetic, zigzag ride intoor the thrust of the tibia in the lower leg the picture point the limbs back into space. Look abovefor the separation of muscle functions: Study for MalchusChart lines through the valley where the by Anthony van Dyke, black chalk, 93⁄5 xflexors and the extensor muscle groups 143⁄5. Collection Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, Rhode on the lower arm.9
  10. 10. Pencil SketchDrawing Lessons “If you want to know about people, watch their gestures. The tongue is a greater liar than the body.” —Robert Henri Foreshortened Figure by Dan Gheno, 1995, sanguine crayon on bond paper, 24 x 18. Collection the artist.10
  11. 11. Pencil SketchDrawing LessonsPositive Shapes vs.Negative ShapesSo far, we’ve been looking at gesturedrawing from the “positive shape”standpoint. That is, we’ve been dealingwith the human body as a solid formthat exists volumetrically and pushespositively outward into space. Butwhat about the surrounding or “nega-tive space” that pushes back onto andsurrounds the figure? Negative spaceis a very useful and constructive force.Artists often use background tones toestablish the limits of figures. Shadowmasses can seem to bump up againsta figure, riding along the outside ofthe form. You can also use negative space tocatch flaws in your proportions or inthe action of the figure. Imagine thatyou are drawing a model who is stand-ing with one hand on a hip. Look at thelength and width of the space between A Woman Sleepingthe arm and the torso. Do you have a by Rembrandt van Rijn, ca. 1655, brush drawing. of the positive figure forms as much,similar space in your drawing? If your Collection The British Museum, London, England. if not more than, the negative shapes.negative shape is much bigger or much Ask yourself, Why are you drawing this body in After all, the atmosphere between thesmaller, much wider or thinner, this is front of you? Even if you are drawing someone arm and the torso can measure any for five minutes, the model’s pose should suggesta sure warning sign that you need to something to you. Perhaps the model suggests a size, and although the artist may bereassess the proportions of your figure. sleepy, listless mood as in Rembrandt’s expressive the last person to realize it, the viewer drawing of his companion, Hendrickje Stoffels. As with all potent visual tools, don’t quickly knows when an arm is out ofuse this approach casually or reck- sync with the rest of the figure. Youlessly. Human beings aren’t plaster details and look to the negative shapes also don’t want to needlessly “chasecasts, and while working from the live for guidance, you may notice that the pose,” redrawing a well-propor-model, you will inevitably notice that there is now less space between the tioned arm just because the negativethe negative shapes shift one minute arm and the chest. You might be space has changed slightly. Even if youto the next. Sometimes this shift is tempted to move the inner line of the haven’t finished the detail on the arm,subtle, but at other times, especially arm toward the torso, but if you don’t you don’t necessarily need to alter itsafter the model takes a break and reas- move the outer side of the arm along position because it’s now in a slightlysumes the pose, the negative shapes with it, you will end up with a humon- different position or the negativemight morph radically. I can’t empha- gous arm that would impress the shape has changed. Instead, take thesize this warning too strongly! Quite Incredible Hulk. Even if you take an value structures on the model’s newoften, the pose will look unchanged, expressive approach to drawing, you arm position and tilt them to fit thebut as you begin to zero in on the need to monitor the width and lengths angle of your originally drawn arm.11
  12. 12. Pencil SketchDrawing Lessons Centaur Embracing Two Women by Auguste Rodin, pen, wash, and gouache. Collection Musée Rodin, Paris, France.Concepts and CompositionArt history shows us that the human gesture drawings as an opportunity to The activity is often inherent in the posebody, particularly the nude human form, examine and draw the sheer beauty and when the sketch is done as a study forhas enormous metaphorical and symbol- emblematic power of muscles rarely a painting such as Tiepolo’s drawing oric power. Don’t squander its potential, seen in a more static pose. Place the the Taito II drawing. Some artists cre-and don’t let your drawings—gestural or germ of a concept in the back of your ate an implied activity when they linkotherwise—become scholastic exercises. mind as you work. multiple images of the same modelAsk yourself, Why are you drawing this It may not magically solve all of your across the page. Sometimes they usebody in front of you? Even if you are drawing issues, but you will find your- this simple grouping to create a pleas-drawing someone for five minutes, the self more excited and motivated when ing pattern of shapes, but more often,model’s pose should suggest something you deal with some added issues that go they use it to suggest a sequential actionto you. Perhaps it’s an emotion such as beyond the visual. in the figure, as if the model is turn-happiness or melancholy that we some- Even though you are working ing, twisting, or moving back and forthtimes find existing together in many of quickly, you should still think about through an implied space. Whatever theEgon Schiele’s drawings; or perhaps the composition or give some thought to model’s activity, you can add vitality tomodel suggests a sleepy, listless mood placing the figure in an environment. your drawings if you always try to thinkas in Rembrandt’s expressive A Woman Watch your energy level rise when you of some underlying personal motivationSleeping or a somber, heavy mood as place your figures in the midst of doing as you work. However, stop when you’vein Rodin’s Centaur Embracing Two something active, such as hanging achieved your essential goals—don’tWomen. I often look upon the quicker clothes, washing a car, or stretching. overwork the drawing.12
  13. 13. Pencil SketchDrawing LessonsLong-TermDrawingThere is nothing more exhilaratingthan getting a good start on a draw-ing. And, often there is nothing moreterrifying than watching your drawingevaporate in front of your eyes as itturns into a stiff, brittle echo of yourdynamic beginning gesture. It’s verydifficult to hold onto that initial gesturewhile working on a long-term drawing.I often turn my drawing upside down,or sideways, or hold it up to a mirrorto check the gesture and proportions ofthe pose. I also do a lot of squinting to bet-ter gauge the equally important light-and-dark value contrasts that givevitality to the drawing. I’ll do anythingto maintain my objectivity. On someoccasions, I momentarily put aside thesustained drawing, grab another pieceof paper, and quickly sketch the posefrom an alternate viewpoint, trying tore-examine and reconfirm the gesturein my mind. I often encourage my students towait at least 20 minutes before begin-ning a long-term drawing or painting.Models usually settle into the poseduring this time, sometimes slumpingenough to radically change the underly-ing gesture. You can do many things inthe meantime, such as work on com-positional sketches or lay in a very flex-ible, rough placement of the figure orfigures. Robert Henri put great empha- Gesturesis on these early stages. He believed Drawing by Don Gale, Conté,you couldn’t get a good finish without 11 x 81⁄5. Collectiona good start. Speaking to beginners, he the artist.told them that it was more importantto do a lot of starts, eventually learn- same level of liveliness and vigor of supreme, but there are subtle gesturesing how to set up a useable foundation stroke from beginning to end. even in the details: the cant of an eyefor the completed artwork, rather than You must remain sensitive to the or the raising of an eyebrow, the point-spending a great deal of time practicing underlying gesture throughout the ing of a finger and the slope of a hat.the finishes on failed images. For the drawing process, forcing yourself to According to Robert Henri, “If youmore advanced artists, Henri reminded scan the model from top to bottom want to know about people, watch theirthem that gesture was paramount, and even as you home in on the fine details. gestures. The tongue is a greater liarhe admonished them to maintain the The big, basic gesture always reigns than the body.” n13
  14. 14. Giving all art aSOLID FOUNDATION Kate Sammons Kate Sammons William RoseWhether you work with sculpture, architecture, fashion design or paintings, Drawing magazineis an important resource to help enhance your art regardless of your subject matter or preferredmedium. A year of Drawing will bring you:Subscribe today and save!It’s quick, easy and secure at