Friday, April 10, 2009

How to Capture Movement

Salsa Dancer
18 x 20

This is a quick sketch of a salsa dancer that I did a while back.  It is fun to pick an artistic element to focus on when sketching. Drawing dancers are a great way to study movement.  I love a piece of artwork that captures movement. I grew up fascinated and somewhat obsessed with dance and ballet in particular.  So much so, that for a while I spent every waking moment (aside from school) dancing.  Dance is such a beautiful way that people express themselves and drawing or painting is a great way to capture that expression!  I may not be able to pirouette through life anymore, but I can certainly draw those that are! 

Some tips for capturing movement in a sketch: 

1. Draw with a loose hand.  If you are too meticulous and rigid, you will have a tough time communicating any motion in your drawing.

2. Look at your subject more than your paper.  I know this one is hard for many of us, but if you are concentrating too hard on your drawing rather than your subject, you risk missing the essence of your subject.  Especially if you are drawing from life, don't look away from your subject!  If you have to look at your paper, make it quick!

3. Use a blocking-in technique. In the drawing above, you can see how I "blocked-in" her sleeve.  It is a quick way to capture the shape of something and it doesn't have to be perfect! Even if it take you a few tries, blocking-in can give your drawing a rustic, loose quality that can be quite charming!

4. Don't forget value! The darkness or lightness of something can help translate movement to the paper.  Having light, dark and medium values is crucial to almost any piece of artwork, but especially when one is trying to capture movement! Think of a light, quickly sketched line vs. a dark, heavily sketched mass vs. a broad swash with the side of your charcoal.  These different techniques all describe a different kind of movement and all are really useful.  Variation is definitely more exciting to the eye and helps to move the eye around the paper.

5. Draw in circles.  This is definitely one of those rules made to be broken, but I find that it is easier for me to draw with a loose hand when I draw using quick circle-like movements that describe my subject.  My great-aunt Harryette showed me this trick when I was 7 or 8 years old and it has really stuck with me.  She was a genius at drawing horses.. she could draw them in her sleep!  She taught me that a horse can be drawn using all circles and it really works!  I think any animal or human can be drawn the same way.

AND finally.... LOSE THE ERASER!  This is the best way to learn to draw!  It teaches you to get it right the first time and so what if you have a line out of place?! It only gives your drawing more character!

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