Capture the Gesture

While you continue to focus on the shapes that fall within each square, look at the entire shape of each object and how they relate to each other. The plants especially have very beautiful, sweeping forms, and at this time, you should try to capture the gesture of each plant. The gesture of a tree, plant, or figure is the general overall movement of the main forms; this can usually be represented by a couple of long, flowing lines. Notice that every plant, tree, or figure has a unique gesture, which is a key quality to capture in your work. It is one of the main things that give the subjects you draw a sense of believability and character.

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Discover the Potential of Line chapterO

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Gesture Drawing PlantsGesture Drawing Plants

In this stage of the drawing, the artist mapped out all of the objects in the setup and their relation to each other. Be sure to check each square on the grid to ensure your drawing's accuracy.

At this stage, while still using the grid, you can begin to refine the shapes of the objects, attempting to make each line descriptive of each object. In this example, some lines were erased and redrawn, as they became too heavy in the earlier stages.

The artist also varied the thicknesses of the lines, using a heavier, darker line to give the illusion of objects emerging in the drawing, and a lighter, more delicate line for those areas that needed to spatially recede. The artist was also beginning to develop the design of the drawing. While looking at the entire still life setup, the artist searched for a rhythm of shapes and an internal structure between the objects. There are lines that flow from one form into another, which the artist began to exploit for the sake of creating an interesting pattern of marks that keep the eye of the viewer moving in an interesting way throughout the drawing.

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At this stage of the drawing, the artist chose to remove the grid from the table in order to view the still life setup unobstructed and in its entirety. The artist was confident that the proportions of the objects were accurate and placed on the table using correct perspective. You'll notice that most of the corresponding grid lines on the paper have been erased; this is because the artist felt that they were no longer necessary.

The overall design of the drawing was defined by the lightening or de-emphasizing of lines. The artist wanted some of the lines to remain in the background and strengthened those lines that gave a sense of form to the objects and the drawing's composition. The shapes of the objects have also been refined, including more of the details in the palm fronds and specific characteristics pertaining to each object.

Gesture Drawing Rythmn

At this point, it's important to be very selective about what you add to and eliminate from the drawing. Here, the artist almost completely focused on the rhythm of shapes throughout the picture. With a little shading in the shell, the plant, the interior of the pot, as well as the central vertical frond of the palm plant, more strength was added to the design, which also enhanced the drawing spatially. There are many ways of shading a line drawing, some of which you have seen in the various examples shown earlier in this chapter.

In order to retain a consistency of technique, the artist chose to use thin, parallel lines placed closely together which follow the form.

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