Friday, 5 October 2012

The Rhythm of Life.

Michael Whynot c. 2012. Gesture for arm study.
Michael Whynot. Arm Study c. 2012. Collection of the artist.
Michael Whynot c. 2012. Gesture for figure study.

Michael Whynot. Figure Study c. 2012. Collection of the artist.

How does one begin a drawing, considering the varied, intertwined elements that go into the making of a good one?

The answer to that question has to be gesture. Which brings up the next, obvious, question: And what, exactly, is gesture?

I might describe gesture as the thrust of movement, the rhythm of life which flows through the figure. It is not, necessarily, a contour seen on the figure, although it may be. If you study the individual masses that comprise any form and then search for a line or thrust that unites them, you have probably discovered the gesture. You will often find that this line or thrust resolves itself into a C or S curve; a line of beauty.

This gesture is elusive; it can disappear in the blink if an eye or the clumsy touch of the pencil. And once it disappears, all the careful measuring, modelling and shading in the world will never resurrect it. So balance becomes the battleground upon which draftsmen continually struggle. How to advance a drawing, utilizing proportion, anatomy, perspective and tone without killing the fragile gesture. And that is a question which I am unable to answer. How much is too much? How do you know when it is time to stop? It becomes, painfully, obvious once the gesture it dead, once you have gone too far, but sensing that moment when all the elements resonate in harmony...?

Therein lies the mystery of art.

I have included two of my gestures and two drawings derived from them. Please excuse the lightness of the gestures as this is a quality I find inherent in them: nothing too distinct or exact. The drawings resolve themselves as I begin to layer on more elements.

If you have ever attended a life drawing session, then you know that they usually begin with short timeframe gesture poses. During these poses you will see everyone drawing furiously, trying to get everything in before the model changes their pose. But once the longer timeframe poses commence, you will notice people carefully measuring and placing individual elements of the figure without any concern for the whole. Gesture is forgotten. It has become an exercise, in and of itself, instead of a foundation upon which to build.

All lines are not created equal; the rhythm of life may be seen in a line, drawn with feeling, by a sensitive hand; whereas a lesser hand draws merely a line.