Sunday, September 2, 2007

Drawing People

Drawing People
Gesture Drawing
8.5" x 13"
Today's artwork is a cartoon I did on gesture drawing. I submitted it to "The Artist's" magazine but got one of those well-known to writers and artists, rejection slips. They said they didn't feel it would generate enough interest. So, here, for your enjoyment, is my cartoon on gesture drawing.
While I can draw in the cartoon style, I just can't think of many things that are funny or would make a good cartoon.
At the time that I did this cartoon, I was doing a cartoon strip for the local newspaper each week. "The Calvert General Store" was based around daily life in the town and my grandfather's dry goods store. I was also teaching art and taking night classes in figure drawing at Texas A&M University.
One day, in my junior high school class, I was going to demonstrate, then have my students do, some gesture, then contour drawing, and other exercises that we did in my university class. As we got our paper passed out, roll checked, and prepared to start class, two maintainance men came in my room to check on the large overhead gas heater in my room. Instead of climbing ladders to work on the heater, they relaxed against the window sill under the heater. I don't know if they were enjoying my class or what, but they spent a lot of that day and the next, leaning on the window sill. I never did see them do anything to that heater. Maybe they worked on it after we left the room, or maybe they were just looking for a place to hang out.
Being a rather flexible teacher, I took advantage of the two "models" in the room. I sketched them as gesture drawings, then had my students do some gesture drawing using each other as models. Then they went on to do contour, cross contour, positive and negative drawings, and then we moved on to draw things like the chairs in the room, and the chair with a person posing with the chair.
Later, I put the gesture drawing on paper the size I used for my cartoon strip, inked it , and added the Life Drawing Lab in the background, where people are contour drawings, using a gesture person as a model.
My "models" became gesture people, in a gesture world, going to a gesture art school, and struggling with having to draw real people. After all, they don't see realistic people, only more people like themselves-gesture people and contour people. They don't have anything to base a real person on, since that is not what they are exposed to. So, that would make it difficult for them to draw realistically.
Would the person who is having trouble drawing people even fail his class because he can't get the hang of drawing people? Would he struggle, practice, get more help, or just give up and turn to doing still life or landscapes, leaving the difficult people out of his work? Would more observation or maturity help him? Maybe he is just not yet ready to see people realistically.
I told my students that, with these loose, "stick" drawings, I could observe enough, and have the pose down, so that I could go back and do a more realistic picture of the models, later.
For those of you who may not have worked with gesture drawings, they just basically help the artist to get a pose down, fast. It's a stick figure that bends and moves like a person, and can even be done using one line without lifting the drawing instrument.
I try to get the angle of the head, first, with a lot of loose lines. (The more, lightly drawn lines that you have, in this type of drawing, the better chance you have of getting one that is right, or where you need it to be later.) Then I add the main stick that will be the backbone and neck, and add the shoulders and hips with a line that shows their slant. Then I add legs, and arms, hands and feet, with loose, squiggley lines. If I think I need to add extras, such as the cap and portfolio (it was actually a clipboard) in this cartoon, I will add those as sort of a note to myself.
They don't have to be just people. They can be animals, objects, even landscapes.
I often took a clipboard with paper, and a pen or pencil, with me when I had to be on duty or attend pep rallies or meetings, and enjoyed doing gesture drawings while action was taking place. It was fun to do these at the pep rallies and programs, and football or basketball games, to the rhythm of the cheers, the band playing, or the game itself. It forces you to work fast, and to be more observant. Especially if you want to develop the drawings into something more finished later.
My hand lettering is not always perfect in my cartoons, but, now, that can be done with computers. I've done a few cartoons recently using computer lettering, that I cut and paste. I don't have the program needed to do cartooning on computers.
This drawing is in India Ink on acid free Strathmore drawing paper.
Sometimes, I like those free first drawings more than those that I spend a long time on. Once I start reworking those first expressions, they just lose something, I think. The llines are different and I just can't get that feeling back.
I also tend to try to finish things by working straight through. If I stop to do something else, and go back to it, you can just tell that the new part is different. I lose that feeling that I first had. I've been known to work straight through, night and day, for several days, to finish a painting or sculpture. I'm trying not to do that, though, because my legs are all swollen and numb when I work that way. But, the time flies and I really don't notice what is happening around me, as long as I am working. I've always been sort of a night owl, too, and like to work all night. I couldn't do that and teach, and now, with my eye problems, I have noticed that I need to rest my eyes. I get to the point where I can't see enough to work, so I have to give up and go to bed. Daylight seems to be better to work in, at this stage of my life, though I do turn on several lamps and go on and work if I am doing something when night falls.
Hope you enjoyed this one, and will share with others. Thanks for reading and I hope you will check back again. If you want to be notified when I add something new, please join my Google group. There is a link in the sidebar that you can just click on to go to my group and see more of my art work. Let me know if you see anything of interest to you. I do appreciate your comments, and your interest in my work.

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