The thinking hand: drawing in motion

The Guardian-11 years before

What will I learn? To engage with the idea of movement and enjoy discovering a drawn equivalent for it.

In certain situations, movement appears unceasing. The challenge is to find and observe moments that build an idea of the whole.

Try drawing clouds moving against the skyline, crowds walking down a street, or a river running through rocks.

Set up the drawing with an idea of the space you intend to observe. Begin to draw the objects that appear stable (the buildings and street furniture, for example). This gives us an idea of the space any movement...takes place in and a sense of its scale.

Start to find shapes for the movement around the stable forms; fragments of people can build into a swing of energy curling round a street corner. Find ways of contrasting the tumbling, rolling forms of a cloud with the unmoving shapes of architecture.

Sometimes movements can form patterns revealing a cycle of shapes. In these situations it becomes possible to allow a drawing to accumulate: each time the movement is repeated, you can add to the drawing.

Try to establish the limits of the range of the movement you are watching, so that as the movement completes each cycle, a broad shape might begin to emerge that encloses the whole movement. Mark out this shape.

At the extremes of the cycle of movement (the widest points), look for a characteristic shape in the object that is moving - in the example of a person drinking, perhaps the back of a hand or the tilt of a glass. Each time the movement returns to one of these points it becomes possible to assemble a characteristic fragment of the form.

Try drawing objects that surround the movement but are not moving themselves. Keep adding to the drawing, building on the initial marks, allowing the drawing to accumulate with each cycle. As rhythms start to form begin to add selectively, thinking about the emerging pattern in the drawing.

The first drawing engages with the contrast of stability and movement. Fixed points in the visual field allow us to register the stream of continuous movement. Look at the quality of the marks you have made in the drawing, thinking about how they reflect speed, direction and flow, and how these differ from your drawing of stationary objects.

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