Use Gesture Drawing To Free Up Your Creativity

One of the biggest problem that’s holding a lot of artist back is the tendency to over think a drawing project.

I’m sure you’ve been there before.

You stare at a picture forever not knowing where to begin and when you do finally start drawing, you agonize over every single stroke and curve. Erasing and re-drawing, erasing and re-drawing. The whole process becomes quite frustrating and your final art work is never as good as you’d like it to be.

This is the artistic equivalent of writer’s block and the reason you (and so many other artists) suffer from it is simple: you are trying to draw AND edit yourself at the same time.

Here’s why this is such a bad idea:

In order to draw you must engage the creative side of your brain but when you edit and critic yourself, you are engaging the analytical side of your brain. The two cannot both function at the same time.

It is the equivalent of you trying to walk forward and backward simultaneously; the result is paralysis and you end up going no where.

Ok, so how do you break this all too common habit? One simple, yet devastatingly effective exercise is the “60-second sketch”.

This is a gesture drawing exercise. The way it work is you pick out a picture of a figure that you want to draw and then draw it in 60 seconds. After 60 seconds, you HAVE to stop.

Now obviously you’re not going to be able to draw a very complete figure in 60 seconds, but that’s the point. This exercise forces you to let go of any self-editing tendency and allow your creativity and energy to flow through.

You stop obsessing about the details and begin to see the figure as a whole. This, by the way, is the key to adding life and emotion to your drawings. Do this gesture drawing exercise at least one time a day and you’ll be well ahead of 95% of artist out there.

(There’s no excuse not to…it only takes 60 seconds!)

Here’s a gesture drawing video that shows exactly what I’m talking about:

Here are some key points to remember when doing this exercise:

Always keep your hands moving. If you slow down, you are only giving yourself a chance to slip back into an analytical frame of mind. (I like to act like I just drank a gallon of Red Bull and that my hand is possessed by some artistic demon)

-Make long broad strokes. This means you should be gesture drawing not with just your wrist, but also your arm. It also helps to practice on a large piece of paper so that you have more freedom to move around.

-Warm up by doodling or drawing long vertical and horizontal lines across a piece of scratch paper. As simple as this sounds, it will wake up your hand and make the exercise much easier and enjoyable.

Now just because you are engaging your creative brain, does not mean that the analytical side is not important.

That’s not what I’m saying at all.

You just shouldn’t be trying to hone both skills at the same time. But true greatness can only come when you have both creativity and a solid technical knowledge of your craft.

In fact, by strengthening your knowledge of anatomy and the human body, you’ll find that you’ll be able to product these 60-second sketches effortlessly and that they will come out much more detailed and realistic.

I hope you found this article helpful. Please leave a comment below and tell me what you think.