Friday, January 15, 2010

Gesture drawing

Quick 10 minute Gesture Drawing from Founder Darwin Leon with the idea of solving the most immediate critical aspects and making fast decisions when drawing the Figure such as:
-Basic foundation (prediction)
-Shapes and forms
-Angles - levels
-Line definitions
-Pre-lights and shadows
*With this gesture drawing exercise the artist is forced to spend more time observing the figure

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The power of gesture - sketch drawing and improvisation in the creative process using the dynamic figure

It is sometimes difficult for the contemporary fine artist to make decisions on what to draw or paint in these times of mass artists, technology and art conflicts. With the invention of photography centuries ago and the current contemporary digital art revolution, it becomes even more difficult for the modern fine artist to have some recognition in the art world.

I always say drawing is the key to the many doors and portals that will lead you to good paintings and own voice no matter what kind of style you approach. It is a slow and secure process and as any famous artist in history, influences play an important role in this process.

Sometimes we are afraid drawing from our head and we spend a lifetime drawing from pure reference. And as I mentioned earlier, with the arrival of technology and digital art, fine art drawings and paintings done from pre-established reference will become more and more less original in the art world, which I consider a very unhealthy approach for the future of the arts. Drawing and painting remind us that we are not perfect as humans, no matter how much we or we'll evolutionate in the upcoming generations of our civilization.

I invite you to draw more and more and improvise no matter how it comes out. By activating your creative process you'll enter new horizons in the realm of your imagination. Your work will become more original and pure with these exercises and will help to keep a solid future for the creative fine artist.

Here are some drawings that I created in a short period of time with the intention of contrast this idea previously mentioned.

Also in here are some previous reference links from the blog that will give you a more clear understanding:

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

"Drawing" as an artistic evolutionary statement - using C. Darwin in steps

Charles Darwin

click on image to see all steps enlarged

Evolution as an Art Statement. The Figure Network believe in the idea that art should evolve as we approach new times and that we should set an example to the upcoming art generations, and of should begin with the figure. In here I am using Charles Darwin portrait as a symbolic statement for this purpose in basic drawing steps.

For basic steps refer back to: The Power of Objective Observation

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Using "alla prima" moving into abstract expressionism contemporary portraiture

Portrait of my wife at age 29
oil on canvas

Alla prima: a painting technique in which a canvas is completed in one session, often having a thickly applied impasto.

As we move into a more creative approach with the figure sometimes it is hard for the contemporary fine artist to find a way to express or align with modernism.

I find Alla Prima a temporary effective and strong solution as far as the medium is concerned. Why temporary? Well, it is only my opinion, but it could only be stage or period in the artist's career to move on. This is only an aspect of creativity, but a great ice breaker for style development that will open the door to many possibilities in you art.

Alla Prima is just like the concept of gesturing with graphite, only this time with paint (also works great with acrylics)

In here, once you have your under painting applied onto the canvas you can use it effectively for your advantage, which could be most of the colors that will be associated with your painting.

The benefits

A strong solid painting style application foundation is the essential benefit of this concept.

For those fine artist interested on abstraction (even non-objective)this is the exercise for the comprehension of abstract approaches (I strongly recommend to review the Abstract Expressionists at the beginning-mid of the 20th century and why they did it, and their influence in today's art)

The steps

When selecting what to paint, specially where the figure is related, think about the fact that the more drama you create on your subject the more effective and impacting your painting will be.

Choose a subject with high chiaroscuro, in other words a subject with high contrast and variety of tones and values.

After your under-painting is ready begin by sketching your drawing foundation straight with your painting brush (burnt sienna or other dark earth color associated with the skin). Don't worry about corrections at this point, feel free to build multiple lines with your brush, you'll correct later as you paint.

Remember, with this concept it is our goal to have any painting done in one session (wet on wet). The technique is forcing you to paint fast with a constant loose rhythm, intense brush strokes and fast decision making.

Begin by building your basic color strokes foundation starting with your darkest values using the value next to value technique (refer to: Principles in painting basic realism)

Since we are not blending the painting should have a painterly effect.

Recommended colors and hues:

  • Burnt sienna (dark and middle tones)
  • Flesh tint (middle and light tones)
  • Naples yellow (light tones)
  • yellow ocher ( transitional value in between tones)
  • Permanent Alizarin Crimson (red) (dark tones)

Moving into Expressionism

As we approach some of the final approaches with this technique you must think about how far you want to take an approach like this one.

In here the creative process and improvisation takes place. After all your value next to value foundation, it is time to make some decisions on color application.

You can choose any colors you want as long as they are well executed. And also you are still playing with traditional color language such as warm – cool concept

The key for a good color execution is your control over color harmony or color distribution. It is really up to you how far you want to go with this technique or how abstract you want to go(don't abuse the color, you should know at which point you must stop)

Don't over due the color!!!!!!!

Color harmony or distribution is accomplished by the understanding and ability to establish foreground-background relationship where the color is concerned. (see the impressionists)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Get the best out of your contemporary portrait with a classical approach using an effective drawing economy

Portrait of a model

(click on image to view steps)

Pencil on paper

Tonal-cross contour technique

For technical text steps refer back to "
The power of objective observation, suggestion, and economy in drawing (the portrait)"
Here is a quick recap:
Light gesture drawing: no erasing
levels and angles
Target point
Correction: erasing
Line definition: heavier lines
Basic shading foundation

Monday, March 2, 2009

The effectiveness of gesture drawing and the power of improvisation

by Darwin Leon

Part 1

Gesture drawing or suggestion in drawing is definitely one of the most powerful tools you will ever use in your lifetime as a fine artist specially when drawing the figure.

What is gesture drawing?

This is the process of drawing quick, lightly without erasing with a constant movement and focused on the subject. The concept of gesturing is the idea of capturing in a suggestive way a sketch of what the brain has already seen. I strongly recommend this exercise in any art class in the planet and in any subject, technique or style. I must say this technique is universal and always works. I personally have found this approach of incredible benefit and developmental in my personal work for years now. For any contemporary fine artist the idea of suggesting in drawing is a powerful, effective and timeless tool.

What is suggesting?

Suggestive drawing is basically capturing a basic main idea of the subject matter in a fast and light sketch drawing.

The benefits of gesture and suggestive drawing

We can almost safely say that these two are totally related. When you are doing a gesture drawing you are basically suggesting. As any other technique in the arts, gesture drawing requires exercise and repetition. Repetition is the key for this exercise success. The benefits and advantages are endless. After repeating this exercise for a long time consistently you will notice a general improvement in your drawing skills such as observation, composition, line quality and proportions. Since you are drawing fast, the circumstances are forcing you to spend more time observing with deep concentration at the subject obsessively with a very objective approach.

Gesture drawing should be used in any situation and any subject matter, even when painting, your initial basic foundation must be done in a gesture drawing. This will save you a lot of time, you will create better compositions and it will become more productive. Gesture drawing is great for figure studies and anatomy as well as sketching on site such as landscapes scenes and still life. It is also great for decision making when drawing and a great builder of confidence as times passes. (see Draw anything and everything)

Your line definition will improve dramatically and your observation skills will step another level. You must become visually obsessive with your subject matter when gesture drawing. Also, you must read every single contour line of the figure and feel it deeply in your eyes until it reaches your mind solidly. Gesture drawing is the direct objective connection of brain-subject matter. When gesture drawing feel free to build multiple lines as you draw. In here you are mapping or brainstorming. In the process of multiple lines draw very loose. Don't waste your time trying to erase, it is not the point at this time. Also, don't concentrate in one area for a long time. The concept of drawing fast with multiple non-heavy lines will give you the flexibility of correcting as you go.

Build lines even for the angles. In this way you are already positioning your figure in the right places, angles and distances. For example, quickly draw a line to position the level position of the shoulders or clavicles and note from your point of view which one is lower and which one is higher. Same for the hip bones, feet angles and distance, and center line for the torso (upper body). Eventually your lines will evolve and you will discover more lines that will help you in the angles and positioning process. Eventually drawing will become more fun instead of an issue.

Adding shapes to your gesture drawing – the improvisation process

I strongly recommend to get into the habit of building shapes when gesture drawing. “Think shapes”. In here you wanna get creative. Gesture drawing and shapes must be married. The effect of shapes in your suggestive drawing creates a very positive result. Instead of always building just lines to achieve line contours, you want to combine it with shapes. These abstract shapes could be from an oval, circle, rectangle, triangle, etc. And the shapes must be associated with the actual forms that you are visually experiencing at the moment. Shaping could also be called massing. This is an extraordinary tool for placement, association and positioning. Along with your lines the shaping process will give you a better idea of what to look for. Not only for the human figure this applies but for anything that you see in nature like a simple apple. Again, this is a repetitive process. It takes some times until you control these shapes in combination with you gesture lines.

In here you are improvising. It is really up to you how far you wanna go with this shapes. The more shapes the more structured your figure will be. And when the time comes to correct, you already have a very strong basic foundation to work from. Remember, there is no way to correct if you don't have something. Shapes applies for everything and it is a great composition detector. When you have a figure or more than one, or multiple complex compositions there is the overall shape. This is visualizing and thinking big. The over all shape will give you the illusion of an abstract shape that encloses all the figures into one composition. For instance, some figures resembles the geometric shape of a triangle like the one showed in this post.

Here is a general basic hint list of what parts and muscles to look when gesturing, suggesting and massing:

  • Head (forehead, eye cavities, nasal bone, mouth, chin, high/low cheek, ears, jaw, upper/back skull, neck-sternocleidomastoid)

  • Shoulders (deltoids, clavicles, trapezius)

  • Chest (pectoralis major, sternum)

  • Abs (rectus abdominus)

  • Love handles (external oblique)

  • Arms (biceps, triceps, forearm extensors and flexors, forehand, fingers)

  • Side body( serratus anterior, latissimus dorsi)

  • Pelvic area – hip bones (visible gluteus medius)

  • Upper legs ( adductors of thigh, rectus femoris, vastus medialis, vastul external or lateralis, femur bone)

  • Knee (patela)

  • Lower legs (gastrocnemius, soleus, peroneous, tibia bone)

  • Feet (ankle, heel, arch, ball of foot, instep, toes)

  • Upper back torso ( trapezius, infraspinatus, teres minor/major, latissimus dorsi, lumbar area, external oblique, deltoid, gluteus medius/maximus)