-By Jesper Ejsing

The other day I went to model drawing evening with a couple of other artist from my studio. I love model drawing and this was a joyful returning for me since I have been out of the habit for a couple of years. I always draw on large paper A2 size and use a thick pencil. One of those that are graphite all the way through. It prevents me from going into too much detail and help me from not rendering.

But the session got me thinking a lot about my other drawings. What I noticed, I did, when drawing from a nude model was, that I started the first 30 seconds searching for the gesture or the special thing that made this pose unique. The direction of the spine, the weight point of the figure and the twist and turns in the torso that made it precisely that gesture. The lines to describe the gesture was usually simple. Having a model in front of you makes it a lot easier and you just have to look for the small pose gestures and draw/capture them.

But in doing illustrations you have to make that stiff up yourself, and this is where it gets really hard. But I think that I will force that a bit more from now on. Searching faster for gestures in my composition. This is not new knowledge, it is something I remember having read in Walt Stansfields Drawn to Life books and that made a huge impact on me, but I seem to forget it, and then it all surfaces again after a model class like this.

Trying to be a viking

Capturing a realistic gesture is vital to portraying a character seeming to be alive. When I first started out as a professional artist I had Todd Lockwood giving me feedback on a large painting I just did that I was really happy with. He told me that he would never stage figures in a fight scene flat footed but would rather have them mid motion. Back then I thought he was an idiot and I was annoyed because I really liked the painting I did, but looking back at it I slap my forehead at my own ignorance.

Capturing a pose and a gesture is my only mission these days. Often it means I have to get out of my chair and try out the pose for myself to see if it feels strange or if there is a detail I missed. But I think this is the key to paint figures that seems alive.

I will start model drawing weekly from now on. looks like it is a huge gain – who would have thought? And strengthening my gesture drawings will hopefully keep me away from theatrical poses.