Art: Gesture Drawing

Title: Gesture Drawing: The Essence of Capturing the Moment as a Tool for Extended Investigation
Discipline(s) or Field(s) : Art & Design
Authors: Diane Canfield Bywaters, Susan Morrison, Sheila Sullivan, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
Submission Date: Spring 2007

When enrolling in Drawing II the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point art and design students have already covered the basics of drawing. This second drawing class is then geared for developing conceptual ideas within an exploration of color media. However, faculty had noticed that the building block of gesture was applied inconsistently within the Drawing II class. This assignment was to reintroduce the student to gesture in a different way: building multiple gestural images on the same page and relating those images through color and mark-making utilizing the entire picture plane. The assignment emphasizes the importance of gesture and the application gesture has in drawing and painting development.

Learning Goals

  • Loosen Up
  • Full body motion to move drawing hand (versus wrist action)
  • Quick visualization
  • Trust
  • Understanding that gesture is an unlimited root of extended drawing

Approach – Open minded, high energy, experimental and process oriented, for a kinesthetic experiential drawing.

Findings – The students resist this risk taking; and uncontrolled non-representational “scribbling”. However, once the student succeeds at this approach there is a confidence, and willingness to “go with the flow” and to let the picture grow from the page rather than be dictated by a mental construct.

Students have exhibited works created in this and related assignments in the UWSP Juried Annual Art Foundation Exhibition (juried by an outside judge). In addition, the faculty who are using this assignment and related assignments consistently receive excellent faculty evaluations, and student comments related in evaluations are consistently positive. Initially the assignment was taught without the use of master examples presented in the classroon and handouts, our findings indicate that this added information enriches the outcome. To our surprise, the act of creating the video segment of this project also enriched the experience of the students, and could be a teaching and learning opportunity for further study.

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