Although I’m a big planner, every project I work on has its own learning curve, and inevitable changes occur the more I work. I do have plans at some point to do a full out gesture drawing tutorial where I demonstrate how to draw from a live model, cover anatomy, the real deal. However, the logistics of that tutorial idea are complicated, largely because you need a lot of space which we just don’t have right now. Some day!
I do however, get tons of questions about gesture drawing, and I wanted to find a way that I could teach gesture drawing without working with a live figure model. Last December, I had so much fun sketching our friend’s bulldog. He was incredibly challenging to draw, as he literally could not sit still for even a moment, but I found that to be a really exciting challenge to tackle.
After that experience, I realized finding someone with a pet like a dog or cat would be the solution for a gesture drawing tutorial. I liked the accessibility of the subject of a pet; too often people tell me that they have to draw from photos because they don’t have access to a live nude model. Yes, drawing a dog is not the same as drawing a live nude model, but you can definitely get great drawing practice and learn from it! While the subject may be different, the same fundamentals of drawing can be applied with an animal.
Naturally, I turned immediately to Lauryn Welch, who let’s just say has a mild obsession with her cats Tor and Spicy. Our joke at Artprof.org is that the first thing Lauryn will do when she sees you is stick her phone’s home screen in your face and exclaim “Look at this photo of my cat!”
My initial approach to this cat drawing tutorial was to cover the fundamentals of gesture drawing and to keep the tutorial as simple as possible. The tutorials we have at Artprof.org really range in terms of length, we have tutorials that are as short as 7 minutes, while our oil painting tutorial is almost 2 hours long. I like having that balance so that people who want to more complex techniques can get it, but that there are lower commitment tutorials that are quicker to absorb. Coming off editing the oil painting tutorial a few months back, I was ready to shoot something short and sweet.
Except that once Lauryn and I started chatting while drawing on site at her house with Tor and Spicy, I realized just how much had to be covered in order to teach gesture drawing without leaving out important points.
After that first shoot, I took home that footage, edited it, and made a list of all the points we covered. I looked at the list and realized how many concepts were missing. Lauryn came to our studio last weekend where we went through all the missing parts.
On top of that, once we started talking, we slid into other topics such how to learn from looking at gesture drawings from art history, and critiquing each other’s gesture drawings. Which of course resulted in a trip to the library to check out tons of books to find just the right gesture drawings that fit our discussions in addition to several hours of searching for public domain images online.
The process of finding gesture drawings from art history is addictive and fun, nothing more exciting than discovering new drawings! Here’s an ink wash below by Eugène Delacroix that I had never saw before. In fact, I never looked closely at Delacroix’s drawings before so this was a whole new universe of drawings I had never encountered.
Gesture drawing by Eugène Delacroix
By the time I had edited the footage from the second shoot with Lauryn, I realized that the footage of us drawing on site from the first shoot felt incomplete. We were missing some shots from specific points of view that were crucial towards illustrating certain ideas, so of course, we scheduled a third shoot in June!
So much for a “short and sweet” tutorial. We haven’t even done the third shoot yet and the edited footage is already at 40 minutes. I guess this is what I get for being compulsively thorough in my teaching practice.