Drawing movement Part 1

After a long break away from the drawing board, I decided to spend the month of August exploring movement as a way to spark some new work for later this year. My intention was to examine movement in the figure, in wood, water and other elements, in order to feed that fluidity into new tree inspired pieces.

‘Rapids’ Charcoal on paper

Many people have commented that my work reminds them of dancers, or human or animal figures, so I felt it was a good time to explore this more deeply and in a more intentional way. When I’m drawing trees I’m always looking for movement, even though the trees move too slowly for me to see I know they are always in motion.

A framework for studies in movement

To give this idea some structure, I created a studio project for myself with quite definite boundaries. I know from my experience of sustaining a studio practice that this is a helpful way to get back into the flow of making after a break.

My rules were:

  • Fill a basic A4 40 page softcover sketchbook (I bought a class pack of 10 from Dryad educational supplies where I get my workshop materials from).
  • Work fast and focus on the process not the product. Spend no more than 20 minutes on one drawing.
  • Suspend judgement or critique until the book is filled, then review and decide direction for the next one.
  • Dry media only, to allow for rapid working without drying time. I used graphite sticks and blocks, charcoal, conté and sanguine pencils, putty erasers and kitchen roll cloths. Pages we lightly fixed with spray fixative.
  • Work from video, photo and sketch sources only. This included some live online life modelling sessions, some recorded and lots of trawling my own photo and sketchbook archive. (This way I removed two major distractions – searching woodland for new trees and the internet for images!)
  • The drawings are for creative development only, not for sale or showing.

I began with lots of super-quick life model poses focusing on the gesture, capturing brief moments of pause amid movement.

These dynamic poses by @mariano_modelovivo are such a joy to draw. He’s a superb life model – check him out if drawing bodies is your thing. He did 2 sessions for London Drawing which I attended live in 2020 and I’ve bought the recordings so I can keep going back to them.

From the first week of the project I observed how quickly my drawings changed in response to the subject and how satisfying it is to make a LOT of drawings you don’t have to care about – very energising!

To be continued…