Crit + Advice for Approaching Gesture (Longer Poses)

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    Hi I'm recent to gesture drawing (around 4 months? so maybe not that long), and I've been having problems approaching 2-5 minute poses. I think the time paralyzes me and I get extremely self-conscious. Usually I can only make limited marks in fear of contradicting myself. Any tips on approaching this issue or the drawings itself (it's a five-minute pose btw)?

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    Nice job on your post, Siwead, that's very good. According to what I've seen there, then you're on the right start. If I was critiquing constructively, then you shouldn't erase your lines too much, in you next drawing, in 180 seconds. And do you know why?? As a result, your forces and edges will become even more boldest in strokes.

    Hope it's been totally beneficial, cheers.

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    It's a very nice work, and you're right considering 4 mounths is not that long, evolution takes time! My advice is drop the eraser, draw with a pen if you have to.
    You have to force your brain to make the decisions. You already have the limited time set to push you forward, but the safety provided by the eraser is keeping this limited time from making it's job. Don't worry, it's gonna be a real mess, but it's part of the process. So make many mistakes, but don't erase them, let them there staring at you so you try working on them the next time you practice. And remember, the less you erase the more you do with this 5 minutes.
    And of course, studying anatomy helps to build the confidence to make this decisions.

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    I agree with Jeshua with trying not to erase that much with quick scketchs. Although I have not try myself to draw with a pen in five minute poses.

    I have some general comments that have help me to approach 5 minutes sketches:

    - Try to look at the major angles of the drawing: The angles of the legs, how the torso is moving, the relationshinp between the ribcage and the pelvis... if you don't know where to draw for example the right arm try to understand how that arm is located with relashionship to the things you have already drawn.

    - Rely in your intuition of proportions: in five minute sketches there is not enough time to draw while being very accurate with the proportions. Try to keep the things in order but don't strees to much over it. In these sketches the fluidity of the poses is more important.

    - It is useful to have a state of mind in which your are trying your best but you have dropped your expectations of how the final piece is going to look. This is a state of mind that can be difficult to invoke and sometimes it helps to warm up with really short poses (like 30 seconds).

    In general, don't be afraid of doing ugly drawings. That is part of the process and a very necesary one.

    There is a last thing I wanted to mention: there is a nice feedback loop between longer posese and short poses. While in longer poses you can try proportions and the like that huge amount of time can make your drawing stif. And as you saw in short poses the fluidity is more natural but the figure lack detail and proportions. It is a good advice to do both, some short poses and some longer poses. They improve together.

    Hope this comments are helpful to you

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    Deleted user

    Hi, i used to have the same problem, i think that it's important to embrace failure, there will be a ton of poses that won't look right and that it's the point after all, to make mistakes so you can recognise them and get better. When i started thinking like that i felt a lot more comfortable and realised i had enough time because i calmed down and even made less mistakes. Also, i actually started with 30 seconds poses, so when i went up to 2 min poses it felt like a lot of time, so maybe go for shorter periods and get used to that? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

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    Hi I dont know if this will reply to any user in particular - or just the forum but to anybody who contributed to this thread thanks a lot : ) I definitely have been playing it safe with my mark making and not thinking critically and sticking to a pattern of what I thought worked. Obviously, that's good for certain applications (e.g only making CSI curves) but it definitely felt like I was holding back but I can't thank you guys enough :D this is my first time posting my art online so I'm so glad I did so here


    You're welcome!


    so im not sure if your going up in time or down in time, but if accuracy is what you are worried about, try flipping the canvas upside down and horizontally when you are in a situation where your not sure if your making an error, it becomes much easier when seeing the image in a new light. sometimes i just draw pictures completely upside down for practice because it makes me draw the shapes a way im not use to and they usually come out better. dont worry too much about time because you can go back yo the picture again if you really want to. i dont think in life your really ever bound to 5 minutes for a client.


    You have a figure in front of you (photo, life, whatever). Quickly analyze it (quickly if timed). As an example my Figure 26. Look for things that are related (line up). On the right side of the figure, notice the head, elbow, knee, leg, and foot line up. The left side of the body forms a backward "C". In this "C" the head, left arm, hand, and leg line up. What I would do is make a stick figure to set up these relationships. In reference to the figure you are drawing, fill out the various items. Placing the items where they go and correct in shape (as a sketch with no real detail). Once you have this set up to your satisfaction, you can the for the shapes to correspond to the figure you are drawing. Continue to refine the figure until you are satisfied with it. You should make a study of human anatomy - both muscle and bone structure. Even if you are drawing a clothed figure, you need to know these subjects so you will know what is under the clothing. The internet has a lot of free information on these subjects. Do not think this will happen overnight. It will take a while -Remember: Practice makes better. I would recommend you use the Line-of-Action (L-o-A) hands & feet section & its faces/expressions section. For additional figures to draw, you can go to "On Air Video".

    Also, date your works. Why? You date the works so you can go back through them to see your progress. If you practice, you will see progress.

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    Try to suppress the time limit and focus on the essentials of the pose. Remember, that this is only a practice: You don't have to render a pose perfectly. Just repeat practicing and you will notice your improvement.


    hello siwead

    this is a nice gesture drawing that communicates a lot of movement and form.

    i think the main problem here (as you say) is the time constraint, though i don't think in the way you imagine.

    first of all, if you're self conscious about how your practice pieces look, then compare them to your own pieces and spend some time thinking about how your drawings have improved. the size of the improvement can be as small as you like - maybe you're just working on drawing straight vertical lines, maybe circles, maybe a specific body part and its constituent curves. there's always something to be learned from how your drawings change. if you find yourself panicking a bit less, then feel free to compare your drawings to ones that you consider high quality, or maybe even the reference image itself. there are lots of levels of practice.

    second, if you're getting paralyzed by complexity, maybe you're thinking of too much at once. this site has a really solid explanation of a progressive practice session (short practice first, then long) that i think is a good framework on which to model more flexible practice. the key takeaway is that the time constraint is there to get you to focus on different levels of detail at a time. the shortest practice sessions only give you time to interpret the core of the pose, maybe even just the spine, then as you get into longer and longer sessions, you can start to consider maybe the orientation of the limbs, the hands and feet, then the smallest appendages, folds of skin, facial expressions, etc. i wouldn't take the time restraints this site mentions as canon, but they're a good starting point, and if you hit a point where you're getting paralyzed by placing a line wrong, it might mean that you're giving your brain time to look at details that are small and not relevant to the level of detail you're considering.

    as an example, if i were practicing drawing different perspectives of an object on a table, let's say my shoe, i wouldn't start with practicing the entire shoe from each point of view, but rather i would start with a defining shape or line and how that changes based on where i'm looking - maybe it's a bounding box, maybe it's a line that runs down the tongue of the shoe, maybe it's a basic wedge that represents the foot in the shoe - regardless of what i chose, i would start with that simple feature then add smaller ones in each longer practice session. your average tree is the perfect example - short practice sessions only care about the trunk, the center of gravity and structure, but as you move further into detailed practice, smaller limbs and eventually leaves make it into the picture.

    if i were you i think i would limit the bulk of my practice to mostly very short drawings, maybe even 30 seconds or less, with a few longer sessions once you've warmed up. not only will this help you get your eye in and help you learn the core structures that you're drawing, but it'll actually get you into the habit of doing that with every drawing, not just the short ones. i found that my own figure drawing improved a lot once i started warming up and treating each drawing as a sequence of increasingly detailed studies, starting always with the guiding gestures.

    good work and happy practicing :)


    I love that sketch! The gesture is very express, and would work quite nicely as a finished work. Your proportions seem a bit off, but that can happen when you are working quickly. Short draw times can be very nerve wracking. The best thing that I can suggest is don't think. Try dropping your time down to say 60seconds you literally have no time to think or second guess yourself. Just focus on mark to page, and let your eyes and muscles do the rest. You know how to draw you just need to trust yourself.


    I honestly can't find anything to critique-- I happen to love it. For a quick amount of time, you captured the pose, you made it engaging to look at, and I think you used your lines to make movement and energy happen in the drawing. Wish I could give some constructive criticism, but I just like it too much to want to change anything!


    The lines you are making look great. I can easily see the pose that you're going for. As for being self concious, throw that in the trash. This is practice, make cotradictions, make mistakes, screw up entire images, then move on to the next. Your goal here is to learn, not to impress anyone.

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