Gesture Drawing – Week 1
One of my personal objectives over the course of this MA is to improve my draftsmanship skills as an illustrator. Having worked in a predominantly digital space since I graduated from my undergraduate course I am keen to take this opportunity to improve my hand rendering skills.
The first step I’ve taken towards actioning this objective has been to sign up for a five week gesture drawing course run by Animation Skillnet, who offer subsidised training for the animation industry in Ireland. The course is led by illustrator and instructor Niall Laverty and is specifically focused on improving reactive, action based drawings for specialisms like storyboarding and character design.
This is straight and curve line drawing. This is what my whole thing is based on. …You can put straights and curves on anything.
Charley Harper speaking about how reductive life drawing influenced the development of his style while being interviewed in ‘At Home with Charley Harper.’ (Designtex & Birdling Films, 2014)
What initially motivated me to undertake these lessons was a clip from an interview with Charley Harper, whose work I greatly admire. In the film he describes how his early work was very realistic in comparison to the simple, geometric compositions he is now renowned for. He goes on to explain that he came to this style through a reductive process, simplifying complex natural shapes, such as the human form, into a series of lines and curves. (Designtex & Birdling Films, 2014)
This insight into how Harper had developed his distinctive style had a significant impact on how I view my own skills as an illustrator. I am now focused on developing the accuracy and expressiveness of my drawing skills so that I can make more deliberate stylistic choices in my own work.
I found this first session very enjoyable. It was eye-opening to see how rusty my drawing skills have become over the past few years. I can see from my initial attempts that I will need to work quicker in order to get more details down. I have a tendency to over-analyse what I am looking at, hindering my execution of the drawing. If I can focus more on quickly recognising the line of action then hopefully I will have time to build out a fuller composition. It was also a very freeing experience to work with charcoal for the first time. I found that my lines immediately took on a more expressive quality and am now intrigued to see how experimenting with other new materials may effect my outcomes.
Designtex & Birdling Films (2014) Designtex Stories: At Home with Charley Harper. [Online Video] 29th January 2014. Available from – https://vimeo.com/85360946 [Accessed – 6th April 2017]
Hughes, L. 2017. Gesture Drawings – Week 1. [photographs].