Monday, March 7, 2011

Gesture Drawing

     Like most of the art teachers I have worked for, Jim Rosen believes in warm-ups. Our usual procedure is for me to do four different poses over a twenty-minute period. I hold each pose for one minute, then rotate the same pose in five different directions, then move on to the next pose. 

     For the warm-ups, and for much of what follows, Rosen has each student use a rectangular aperture made of two L-shaped pieces of cardboard. Elementary geometry comes into play as each student adjusts the size of her/her aperture to match the proportions of the newprint. A diagonal is drawn on the paper, and the two L-shaped pieces are put together so that the diagonal on the paper is the same as the diagonal of the aperture, making paper and aperture proportional to each other. Each student chooses the most convenient size of his/her aperture for viewing the model. Some make them small, and hold them close to their eyes, while others make them larger and hold them farther away. Rosen uses this device to push the students into ending up with (usually) only three "shapes" on the finished drawing - the figure in the middle and the two spaces to either side, with no space at top and bottom. 

     I remove the towel I have been wearing, and for my first five-times-one pose I pick one I have used several times before - a standing archer, legs spread front to back, arms in the position of holding bow and arrow at full draw. Rosen looks at the pose and cracks "An archer - and since he is a good model, note there is no quiver." A few gentle groans greet the pun. Rosen is after just the line - the bare outline (pardon my pun) - in these drawings. He stresses they should strive for "a single quality of line." Most students do the five drawings on a single sheet of paper, sometimes partially erasing each drawing before moving quickly to the next, sometimes leaving all lines intact.


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