Gesture Drawing — Learning the Art of Letting Go

I’m not sure the formal definition for gesture drawing.  Leonardo DaVinci did it all the time.

Waaaay back, when I was in college, we were taught the technique in order to de-stress, to loosen up and to relate to our subjects in an entirely different way.

It is a “no judgment” form of art.  All it takes is a pencil, some paper and the inclination to look around you.  Focus on something and begin to draw…no erasing.  Keep it loose and free.  Try not to perfect it, try not to correct, simply let yourself feel the essence of the subject. This is more relational than visual.  And it’s a brilliant way for everyone to begin to draw.  The focus is less on creating a likeness than on creating a feeling.

At any rate, if you are like me, eventually you’ll tighten up.  I can start out very loose.  But then that’s never enough.  One more line, just a little more shading.  In my mind I must try a little harder, and before long it’s no longer gesture…it’s “I am irrelevant unless I can create something masterful.”  And then of course, all the fun is gone.

A gesture drawing should never take more than about 5 minutes.  When you start feeling anxious, stop.  Try drawing something else.  Or simply walk away.

The beauty of this technique is that it takes about 15 minutes out of your day.  It doesn’t have to be lovely.  It doesn’t even have to be good.  It just has to be fast, before that higher part of you brain wants to take over and tell you it’s not good.  Interesting exercise.

A pad of paper and a pencil.  No eraser.  Not because you won’t make mistakes.  But because worrying about mistakes is just not the point.





How do you know?

I’m visual. The universe speaks to me in form, shape, color and sometimes font style.  I’d call it a subtext to reality, except that it’s not a subtext.  It’s the headline, the feature show.  And it’s taken me this long in life to realize it.

A few years ago, I took a local class about compelling issues, which included a video presentation during every session.  The video was mainly people talking, expressing their points of view and providing intellectual insights.  For whatever reason, the video director chose to periodically — sometimes in the middle of someone’s sentence — switch to black and white.

Now I’m sure this was done to get our attention and to make sure the audience stayed focused on the content.  However, it had the opposite effect on me. Whenever the screen would switch to black and white, the whole context changed.  For a few minutes afterward, I heard nothing, as the image took over and did all the communicating. I had to physically redirect my attention, and the sentences spoken in the interim were lost to me forever.

You may be visual too.  If you are, you know what it’s like to:

–Purchase a book because you like the font on the pages.

–Recall the sunlight streaming into the church, the look on the pastor’s face, the swaying of the choir, but not a word of the sermon. (Don’t worry, I read it online again later.)

–Know instinctively by the looks on your friends’ faces how things are going.

–Have a desk that’s piled high because out of site means out of mind.

How do you learn?  My husband and son are auditory.  If I ask a question at home, to heads buried in books, computers, TV screens or even conversations, both of them can repeat back my exact words.  They can quote characters from movies and cartoons and real life, having only heard a line spoken once.  Astounding.

Or maybe you are tactile.  I know you well.  I teach sewing and machine embroidery, and believe me, many of you are tactile.  You nod as we speak instructions, you understand when you watch the video. But until you are asked to perform the task yourself, all the effort just goes *poof*.  Performing the task, touching the machine, pushing the buttons, head down, hands working, is the only way to make it stick.

The truth is, we all use various combinations of communication and learning styles.  Most of us need to hear it, see it and do it.

The quilt in this post is a free pattern from Moda Bake Shop, made with Bella solids. I haven’t decided how to quilt it yet, but I’m thinking about a delightful chicklet-colored variegated King Tut from Superior.  I’m not sure yet about the thread.

I’ll know when I see it.