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Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Power of Gesture

Our gestures express our identity.  Whether in our handwriting,  our gait, or the movement of an arm while talking, folks who know us recognize us as quickly by our gesture as by our voice.

Gesture is movement   Gesture drawing is quick drawing capturing the movement within the subject.  The subject itself might not be moving, but our eyes are in perpetual motion as they scan its visual makeup. Long, subtle curves cause our eyes to move more slowly, short abrupt curves, faster.  We zip right along straight lines and leap from segment to segment when a line changes direction.

When we record these visual movements with a quick, linear drawing--as if doodling--we express the shape's gesture.  Our spectators recognize  the subject by what it's parts are doing rather  than by how it is described.   It is so simple, yet many artists find it challenging.

But for Larry Roebal, it's mere "doodling."
Larry Roebal's "doodle" for April 15, 2011
Almost daily for over the past three years, Larry "doodles" an image from the day's news. Using ballpoint pen, drawing on top of the news article that grabs his attention, he quickly renders a drawing of the news article's subject, then posts the drawing to his daily blog.  Larry calls these gesture drawings "doodles."

Three hundred years ago, there was another "doodler" doing very much the same kind of thing.  You might have heard his name:  Rembrandt.
From the sketchbooks of Rembrandt van Rijn  1606-1669
And five hundred years ago, there was an artist named Michelangelo who was himself quite the doodler .

 From the sketchbooks of Michangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564)
This thing we do that Larry calls doodling is an artist's most immediate tool for exploring and discovering  the subject's inherent essence.  It's a means for sharpening our observation skills while doing visual research.  And even though it's not results-oriented, the outcome has a life of its own.

Call it doodling, call it gesture drawing--its label is insignificant.  What is significant is its power to capture and express visually the heart and soul of the subject in the handwriting of the artist.

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