You will likely hate me for what I am about to tell you but it is unavoidable: This is one of the most important skills you need in any kind of figure drawing and it is super hard to explain. You need to just get it. Okay? Great!
For a beginner artist doing gesture drawings can feel like a waste of time. I know you just want to create something you can proudly show off. But trust me on this, you need to invest time in learning gesture. It will pay off immensely in every drawing you make later on. You will see how it pays off when your proportions are off but your gesture poppin so your drawing still looks good. Once you get good at gesture your drawings will never look stiff again. Yeah baby!
Gesture drawing is drawing the energy of the movement. It is showing the pose in its basic premise. You definitely see it but you need to get to a place where you feel it and have language to express it to be able to draw it.
1. Draw the interesting stuff
Gesture drawing is a great place to practice editing which a lot of drawing is in actuality (this is a larger subject I will tackle in a separate post). But here you have to really pull it down to it’s core. You don’t care about bangs and blush on her cheeks, you don’t care about her belt details, straps on her shoes or print on the dress. You care about the energy and emotion your subject projects and you want to show that in as few details as possible. Your goal here is to make crucial observations! What is it that makes this subject what it is?
Two great ways to make sure you’ll do this is to draw your figures small, 2 to 4 inches high, and put a time limit of 30 seconds to 2 minutes (start bigger and go smaller).
2. Don’t worry about being good at it…
This is especially important to people just starting out, when we tend to judge how good something is on how “pretty” or “real” it looks. These can get ugly. Just let them be ugly. They are serving a different purpose. In time, when you develop your dictionary of lines and start expressing poses in just the right amount of lines, you will have a chance to fully enjoy them and show them off (but by that time you will also learn that there is so much more to fashion and drawing than just prettiness) .
3. … so throw caution to the wind
Now you know these aren’t supposed to be pretty Instagram worthy posts, you can leave all your fucks at the door. You are free! This is a safe space where nothing you do has to be pretty or nice or cool or right. This is your straight up energy-feeling emotion-expressing time and give yourself completely to it.
4. Feel it in your body
This isn’t really instruction as it is a great little trick to getting to understand the pose.
Whenever possible, try to recreate the pose yourself. In taking the pose you will be able to experience the pose in your body, so you’ll know how it feels to do the pose and that will make it easier to convey that feeling in your drawing. And also it is SO MUCH FUN!