I was reading a bit from a newsletter about gesture drawing, and how they can, given the proper technique and direction, lead to refinement of your regular work in drawing. I mean, it can, sort of, but this is weird to me, because it isn’t how I think about gesture drawing, which I learned in a different way.
Gesture drawing, in the Nikolaides tradition, is a way to discover how something feels when you draw it. It doesn’t usually look like the thing you’re drawing, and it doesn’t matter that it doesn’t. Because part of learning to draw is learning how it feels to draw, to become connected with your subject. You end up drawing more accurately because you’re getting out of your own way, not drawing how you think something looks, but translating it into paper like it was a language.
Gesture drawings are quick, aiming for essence and motion, not likenesses. They’re bits of nonsense, scribbles with soul, and it’s ideal to make them your partners.
I finally finished the 31 Inktober drawings, only a few weeks late. Sarcasm aside, it’s often worth it to finish a marathon, even when you’re far behind. Discipline can be its own reward.
Not to mention, completing things is precedent for future projects. The more we get used to abandoning the things we start, the easier it gets to never finish anything. (NOTE: This is in addition to knowing when to quit. Sometimes it’s best to change paths, and the wisdom to know when is hard won)
Several of the drawings started as sketches which I drew over for the finished piece. There’s a power in these raw sketches, and sometimes more life than the most polished completed work. A lot of time and effort goes into capturing as much of that life as possible. This is where the art is.
There it is. I was hoping, when I found the booklet with all my classmates’ drawings alongside mine, there’d be something I could point to and say, “see? It was obvious I should be making art from the beginning.
But I look at that mass of scribbled black and have to say I don’t think it’s particularly telling. It’s weird, I suppose there’s that. But here’s something else: it goes to show that very few of us start any creative path with any shred of expertise. We learn, we try, we fail, we slowly slowly slowly improve.
I know, I know: we all revert to 10-year-olds when told something is “educational.” But no, really, it’s the next best thing to drawing yourself. In the video above, Dzama and Pettibon collaborate on some large drawings. It’s beautiful and inspiring.
It’s good for us to observe art in action. And, if you never watch other artists, you’re often struggling in a vast ocean of possibility. Maybe you’re getting better at staying afloat, but it takes a long time and is exhausting.
Because I ran out of day getting into this little drawing. The pull of Flow, the siren song of getting lost in creation is the best drug, truly. It’s just tough to get started on the trail after so much self doubt and hesitation.
We all have it, or nearly all. You just need to keep reminding yourself to start, to give the blank page a little chance. Most of the time, you get something you can flow into, for a time.
There comes a moment in any ongoing project when I think I’m taking it too seriously and losing the loose qualities of early stages that made me want to continue the thing in the first place.
Overworked drawings are really a thing. Even meticulously crafted pen work needs some freeness about it.
There’s almost always room to free your work of too much control once you recognize what you’re saying and doing with it.