Today I experimented with gesture drawing with my art students at school. One of my own high school art tutors introduced me to this technique from this invaluable book:
"The Natural Way to Draw" by Nicolaides
Gesture drawings are always quick - usually under 60 seconds. They are made up of one continuous line; you never lift your pencil. They are loose and fast, passionate and unhinged. I knew this was going to be difficult for my often rigid, inflexible, concrete, logical students.
Nervous about what I thought would be impending torture for the kids, I got together my materials. I asked a co-worker to model for us, we gathered a timer, some paper and pencils and embarked on our great loosening adventure. Every 30 seconds the model created a new action pose. We scribbled and soared, up and down and all around, creating quick impressions of each action.
For some kids, this was a very freeing experience, for some this was the most difficult thing I've ever asked them to do. By the end of class, we were all laughing and relishing in the uninhibited art that we were creating. I heard "This is my favorite art project ever!" more than once today.
Free, limitless, quick, no rules, abstract rather than the concrete, coloring outside the lines; these are skills and ideas that are infinitely difficult for most of my kids. Check out their work. I was so proud of what they came up with. I realized today how much I underestimate them. I stick with their label and think "Oh, they just couldn't do this" and I "modify" their curriculum until they aren't challenged. They proved me wrong today. Ah, but they do most days, don't they?