Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Gesture and Creativity.

Leonardo Da Vinci. Study of battles on horseback and on foot.

Leonardo Da Vinci. Study of battles on horseback and on foot.

Leonardo Da Vinci. Group of riders in the Battle of Anghiari.

Leonardo Da Vinci. Study for the Burlington House cartoon.

Michael Whynot. Gesture Study, 2013.

Michael Whynot. Gesture Study, 2013.

In my last post, I talked about the neglected skill of capturing gesture from life as a foundation for future work. Today, I would like to take gesture one step further and discuss its role in the creative process.

Once the draftsman has a solid grasp on capturing gesture from life, it is a short leap to begin exploring gestures from your imagination. Complex and multi-figure compositions do not always lend themselves to life studies (although individual figures, within the total composition, may do so). The initial design of the composition must emerge from the imagination and is best explored through gesture (see my previous post on nature versus imagination).

Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius, by an standards, and was famous for his use of this brainstorming technique. There are many surviving sheets of his rapid sketches which offer primi pensieri (first ideas) for many of his complex compositions.

I have included three sheets of his battle studies and one study for his Burlington House cartoon. Notice that these are in no way finished drawings - simply quick, explorations of his thoughts made visible on paper.

I have also included two sheets of my own gestures done, this morning, from imagination. They are very loose, done in under 20 seconds per figure. The draftsman should play with them; move them around in space and follow where they lead.

Although the source of creativity is mysterious and complex, drawing appears to focus, direct and enhance this process.